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Have you struggled to get a yarn that a designer recommends for a project, or just felt you’d prefer using something else from your stash? Put your yarn substitution skills to good use and unleash this fiber folk superpower. To help with the task of finding matching alternatives, YarnSub comes to the rescue of knitters of all levels.

YarnSub is a free-to-use website specializing in yarn substitution that is thoughtfully developed to help fiber folk find alternative yarns for their projects.

Yarn Sub's site header image
YarnSub’s homepage sends you straight to the search field, the first step of finding yarn alternatives.

To give you a sense of its history, YarnSub was created in 2014 by Wendy Peterson, who spotted a need in the online fiberspace, and her husband David, a programmer. As told by Wendy, Ravelry is part of this early history. Cassidy Forbes, Ravelry co-founder and head developer, was “really happy to share data” from Ravelry’s yarn database, which gave Wendy access to a treasure trove of information for around 5000 yarns.

YarnSub wanted to focus on offering expert-based recommendations to make yarn substitution as smooth as possible. To achieve this ambition, Wendy built her own categories, such as yarn construction and fiber content, learned from books on fiber, and got to know a lot of yarn herself by knitting an endless number of swatches.

YarnSub will easily become part of your fiber survival kit

On frontstage, where the magic happens, YarnSub is a user-friendly resource that shows you yarn alternatives in a couple of clicks. You can compare yarns in terms of their ‘matching level’ along a number of features. On backstage, YarnSub combines the amazing knowledge developed by Wendy Peterson with an extensive database of key features for a large collection of yarn brands.

Ready to try?

No need to be a master of crafts to be able to substitute yarn and develop this skill throughout your projects. What helps is to find good resources (like YarnSub), to practice (no fear! Just swatch when in doubt), and to gain a sense of what you prefer to knit or crochet and to wear.


YarnSub offers you two main search options:

  1. Type in the exact name of the yarn brand for which you hope to find an alternative (e.g., the original yarn in a designer’s pattern)

  2. Search by type of yarn and its characteristics (e.g., fiber content, weight, gauge, price, texture)

Example of original yarn for which a search for alternatives is made.
Example of original yarn for which a search for alternatives is made (Source: YarnSub)


YarnSub shows you the matching yarns and their ‘match level’ including “excellent,” “good,” and “reasonable” matches or those that are “not a good match but might work for some projects.”

This is complemented with precious details about each alternative, including ‘matching’ pros and cons, and points of concern when picking an alternative. You can filter the results by fiber content and price level.

Finally, try out one of YarnSub’s suggestions or gain a better idea of alternatives to look for by getting to know yarns similar to the one you wish to replace.

Example of one of the alternatives suggested by YarnSub.
Example of one of the alternatives suggested by YarnSub (Source: YarnSub)

In addition, the YarnSub team produces a monthly newsletter aptly called Yarn Geeks, and archives its extensive collection of articles and valuable book reviews. You can support the team’s work by reporting discontinued yarns, a kind of information that is crucial but difficult to find otherwise.

YarnSub is a work of love and dedication, seriously committed to providing a superb resource to expand the skills of making. It promises and delivers “powerful yarn searches,” thereby making the process of finding yarn alternatives smooth, pleasant, and empowering.


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