Yarn Substitutions

This is going to be a long blog. Make a cup of tea and get comfy!

If you’re a big fan of Rowan, you may have heard the rumours that their range of yarns is being cut rather dramatically for Autumn/Winter. On first hearing the news – I must admit I panicked! But once I knew all the details, I thought it was brilliant.

The new streamlined ‘core’ range incorporates all of the old favourites such as Kidsilk Haze, Felted Tweed, Big Wool and many more. New yarns with pattern support will still be introduced each season, but these ‘Rowan Selects’ will be limited edition while stocks last.

Over the years, the Rowan range has grown and grown. It had become rather complex, and I think this streamlining process will mean more focus on our favourite yarns and stronger pattern support. It will make it easier for small independent retailers to stock Rowan and for larger retailers to stock the whole range (if they couldn’t fit it in the shop before!).

Long term – it will make it easier for me to design with Rowan because using the core range means I can be pretty confident that the yarns will remain more consistent and not be discontinued quickly. I always try and use yarns that I feel are ‘safe’ and I also try to stick to standard weights where appropriate so that it’s easy for you to substitute the yarn if you want to. For this reason I wouldn’t normally dedicate a whole blog to yarn substitutions because it’s normally just the odd yarn or shade that we’re losing. But because some of my most popular patterns will be affected by the changes to the Rowan range – I thought a blog might be helpful for you.

If you’re planning to knit any of the projects below – don’t panic! Yarns don’t disappear immediately after being discontinued so you should still be able to get hold of them from your local Rowan stockist or online. However – I would highly recommend that you start panic buying Fine Tweed and Rowan Fur immediately!

Wool Cotton

Used for the Lovebirds and Tile cushions in Cute Little Knits, Wool Cotton is 50% wool and 50% cotton. It’s a standard DK weight so very easy to substitute. The content of the yarn doesn’t matter too much, as long as you go for a DK it will be fine. I would recommend Rowan Pure Wool Superwash DK – there are good substitutes for all the colours used (apart from the brown).

Creative Focus Worsted

This is the only yarn discontinuation which will effect patterns in my new book The Knitted Nursery Collection. Creative Focus was used for the Circular Felted Rug and Felted Toy Basket, as well as the Bobble Bathmat in Cute Little Knits. For these three projects the finished size isn’t too important, so it could be substituted for any felt-able yarn of a similar weight. To ensure the yarn will felt you will need to check it is 100% (or mostly) wool – and also that it is hand-wash only.

Creative Focus is also used in my Bow Slippers from Cute Little Knits and the mens’ Felted Slippers above. Size starts to matter a little bit more here – but bear in mind that the size after felting can vary a bit anyway (read my tips on felting here).

I tested swatches in Kid Classic and Cocoon against the Creative Focus and here are the results:


These were all knitted on 5mm needles (same number of rows and stitches) and washed in the machine at 30 degrees. The Kid Classic is pretty much the exact same size – just fluffier and the texture isn’t as thick. Cocoon is very slightly larger, the texture is very similar but is more dense. I think either of these would be an okay substitute – just make sure you do a test swatch in your machine!

Fine Rowan Tweed

I’m trying to keep emotion out of this – but I love this yarn so much! However – it is a 4ply and therefore pretty easy to substitute. I think Superfine Merino 4ply would be lovely for the Triangle hat and the Tweed Tie would look great in Summerlite 4ply. Or if you want to keep the tweedy look, you could go for something like Jamiesons Spindrift, which would work really well for the Little Hearts from Cute Little Knits and Shuggie & Steve Sheep faces, but if you’re knitting the hat you might want to check it’s not too itchy!

The yarns I used for the Rowan Winter Animals (Mohair Haze, Fine Tweed & Fine Boucle) have now all been discontinued, but I still have kits for these available on my shop.

I will have limited stock of Triangle Hat kits at Yarndale, which aren’t currently on my shop – so please contact me if you would like to buy one now to collect at Yarndale.

Rowan Tweed

I have only just discovered how beautifully this yarn felts, so I’m sad to lose it. But as per Creative Focus above – choose a felt-able yarn and test it in your machine.


I tested Rowan Tweed against Kid Classic, both knitted on 4mm and washed at 30 degrees. Kid Classic is a lot fluffier and it shrinks more. The Gadget Cosy and Satchel patterns are felted at 40 degrees and I think you might be okay with Kid Classic washed at 30. However – I think the tweed effect from felting this yarn is so lovely that I would suggest trying to get hold of the Rowan Tweed. If that’s not possible – then perhaps try Jamiesons DK. Whichever you choose – make sure you felt a test swatch to check you’re happy with it before starting the project!

Rowan Fur

Okay – so this is where I really struggle to not be emotional! I understand why this yarn wouldn’t become part of the ‘core’ range, but I really love designing with it! Shuggie and Steve Sheep are my favourites and you’ve all given them lots of love. And my Fur lined Bow Slippers are so warm and cosy!

Because both of the yarns used for Shuggie and Steve are being discontinued, I won’t be making any more kits. All of the Steve kits have now been reserved for collection at Yarndale apart from one – so please get in touch of you want to reserve the last Steve! I also have low stock of Shuggie kits because he was very popular at Woolfest. Shuggie is available from my shop.

I have limited stock of Panda & Big Bear kits (£25 for Panda/£30 for Big Bear). As these are limited edition they aren’t available from my shop so please contact me if you would like to buy one to collect at Yarndale or to get a price for postage.

With Harrie Hedgehog and Sammy Squirrel being brand new (patterns not available yet!) I was hoping the Erika Knight Fur Wool would work as an alternative, but it’s a lot thicker and comes out far too dense on small needles.


So I’m afraid the only options are to use one of the many acrylic eyelash/fur yarns out there. Or to panic buy Rowan Fur!

I hope this blog has been helpful for you. As I mentioned earlier – the yarns are still available out there so if you have one of these projects on your list it would be a good idea to stock up on the yarn now. I will start a thread on my Ravelry group regarding substitutions so if you have any questions please get in touch there. Also – if you’re a retailer and have stock of any of the above yarns please comment below or post in my Ravelry group so that we can all panic buy from you! x

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