Thursday, September 30, 2010

substitutions revisited

Have you ever had a friend ask you for a recipe and then tell you what was made wasn't as good as yours? So you ask....ok, how did YOU make it? The answer: well, I didn't have chicken, so I used turkey. I didn't have onions, so I used scallions. I don't care for mayo, so I used sour cream. Oh, and I like hard boiled egg, so I put that on top. you took my CHICKEN SALAD recipe...and made...turkey, scallion, sour cream and hard boiled egg salad. Well, no wonder that doesn't taste like my recipe cuz it is as different as night and day now. *grin*

Same holds true for substitutions in crocheting and knitting. There's a techie saying "garbage in garbage out" and that applies here as well. Why would anyone want to take the time to make something to have it turn out lacklustre, ill fitting, the wrong size, etc.? Not me...that is unless I'm experimenting and letting the craft take me where it will. However, if I'm putting in the hours and concentration for a hand crafted item that I want to turn out "perfect" or at least "correctly," I am aiming at its best result and "doing my homework" before I make substitutions that may not work.

Of course, you can take a fine thread doily pattern worked with a small hook and substitute sport weight cotton and a larger hook, knowing that the result is going to be LARGER. Instead of a doily you have, perhaps, a table topper. Good. Nice. Fine. You didn't however, use those larger supplies thinking you were going to get the same result as the pattern intended, right? Right! A little research is necessary before intention or necessity.

I had a student recently come to me with a rug pattern. (You know who you It was vintage. It was ancient. The company had gone out of business years ago, the yarn had not been manufactured in...forever...and PROPER substitutions had to be made for the item to work out .... correctly. My personal first inclination with rugs is to work them in cotton yarn. Of course, wool or acrylic can be used...that is YOUR decision, and is suggested in the pattern you choose to follow. Caron currently makes an acrylic "rug" yarn that it believes rivals acrylic rug yarns from by-gone years ago. I don't have personal experience with Caron's rug yarn (disclaimer) and am not pro or con as to it. The point is, that step 1 is to make that decision: what kind of fiber is appropriate and what is YOUR choice? Step 2 is choosing a similar yarn weight. Step 3 is....getting enough yarn to complete the item. Do your research. How many yards did the original pattern require? Step 4....use the correct hook or needle size. Step 5: Does gauge matter? If it is meant to FIT, it matters and you'll want to work a gauge swatch before beginning your piece.

Pulling all of the above information together will assist in finding the correct substitution for your item. With the proper supplies, luck isn't required...but I wish you luck anyway. :)

Happy crafting, Donna

1 comment:

  1. Hi Donna, You're back! This post sounds like me. I am new to crochet but think I can just "do what I want" and it doesn't always work out!!! I have to be more careful at what I choose. I think I do it because I want to experience the "creation" and not necessarily want it to look like the picture. I have always done that with sewing for instance. I see how I want it to look in my mind and then make it. Until I have more experience, I shall heed your advice! Great to hear from you. Take care, Ann