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Grist: How Close Do I Have to Get?

Regarding Jillian Moreno’s post “Grist: A Secret Measurement for Substituting Yarn.”

Does the comparison need to be spot on or is there such a thing as “close enough”? Can there be wiggle room of a yard (or 6) per ounce?

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I have this same question. I’ve been using this notion of grist ever since I read the piece in MDK and I get how the same weight yarns can actually weigh a lot differently, and in some cases the difference is so great that it’s clear a yarn is not a good substitute. But when it is less obvious, how much of a difference is too much? Is it 10% or 30%? Or should one note the difference and also factor in other variables like ply and twist or something I don’t even know about?

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Well, M. This wasn’t a hot topic at all, was it. LOL Have you worked anything out?

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Ha! I’ve been out of town on vacation and not checking The Lounge very regularly, so forgive the delay in responding. Interesting the crickets that greeted my post. I’ve posted a couple of times on this and received nothing. I’ve decided to accept a 10% difference-- It’s hard to get exact. What are your thoughts?

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I can’t think of a definitive percentage answer to that question, and I wish that I could.
Right now I’m knitting a sport weight with a 23/24 spi recommendation at a worsted gauge of 20 spi and I love how it looks and feels for the sweater that I’m making. I would, most likely, not make this exchange for a hat or mitts though.
I’m sure that doesn’t answer your question… what are you making or is this a general question?

Thanks for weighing in—This is a general question. Checking the grist really appeals to me, because it reveals a lot about the comparability of yarns as substitutes in patterns. It sounds like you’re saying you have to just see how you like the substitute yarn for your project, which is easier and cheaper to do if you have the potential substitute yarn in your stash, vs. buying something new for the project. I’m asking to give myself some guidance on what yarns to consider and which to rule out definitively before that whole swatching process.

Honestly, I don’t know that I have any thoughts! I feel like I don’t know enough and substituting yarns is total mystery. I’m thinking about kind of reverse engineering it by looking at photos of yarn substitutions I like and comparing it to the designer’s original yarn. Maybe something will click!

So, for me, grist is just one of many factors. Yarn composition and construction affects all sorts of things when you substitute, like stretch, drape and stitch definition, so grist is maybe a starting point. Also, grist can change depending on the production of the yarn - I’m a spinner, and I most often use grist to check for consistency from one skein to the next. Which led me to start to compare commercial skeins, and find out that yes, some didn’t just feel different, they were actually heavier or lighter from skein to skein in subtle ways. All this really means that no matter why you’re checking, you’ve got to swatch.

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