Yarn Substitutions in The Chinese New Year

 Yarn Substitutions in the Chinese New Year can be a scream!

But before I get to that, let me mention that the Chinese New Year did just commence earlier this month and is the Year of the Goat. Which brings to mind the ending scene of “A Christmas Story” where Ralphie and his family end up in a Chinese restaurant when their holiday turkey is devoured by the neighboring dogs.

I remember a long time ago, my mother would always shop in the stores in Elizabeth, NJ. THAT was the place to go! These were the days, mind you, before shopping malls. Downtowns were only open on certain nights of the week, and in Elizabeth you could shop late on Monday  and Thursday nights. A huge downtown shopping area, chock full of streets awash in shops of every color and caliber. Men’s and women’s, antiques, movie theatres, hobbies, bookshops, music, furniture, sprinkled in with diners, dives, historic old churches, stately city government buildings, and old newspaper huts crammed into the spaces next to the train station stops. Two of the bigger stores were Levy’s and Georkes Department stores. I loved the latter; they had a whole section dedicated just to books on their mezzanine level. Their elevators were so upscale; every one had it’s own elevator operator. They would wait for everyone to enter safely, then throw the steel “cage” across before letting the heavy golden door run across the opening from right to left. (If you’ve ever watched the closing scene of “The Maltese Falcon” you know what I mean)!

My mom was from Elizabeth and my grandparents had a two-story frame house in The Port, right near Front St. where Bethlehem Steel Company was located, so I knew Elizabeth pretty well. Those were the days when girls went to Battin High School and boys went to “Jeff” (aka Thomas Jefferson H. S.).


“The past is really almost as much a work of the imagination as the future.”   Jessamyn West

One of these little places to eat was a Chinese restaurant. Because we were always in Elizabeth every Wednesday afternoon for catechism classes, my mother decided to have us catch a little supper someplace besides our kitchen at home. I remember this place as being particularly enticing; warm and well-lit, with the nicest waiter who couldn’t stop by our table enough to make sure we were not in need of anything. 🙂

Egg Drop soup for chinese new yearI do recall ordering the egg-drop soup, probably because it sounded so funny. And it was delicious! Something I’d never eaten before, and would be sure to have the next time we stopped in. Then there was the tea. Brought to us in little teapots, even as an eight-or-nine year old, I certainly felt elegant. In fact, that one time we ate dinner in that little Chinese restaurant was a memory I’ve never forgotten.

About a month later, (I don’t recall the time of year, only that it was cold and windy and I wanted to get inside as soon as possible), my mom and I were all set to have another little sit-down in that Chinese restaurant. We thought it was on Broad St., but no, there was no restaurant there. So, we walked around to E. Jersey St. where we figured we must have not been paying attention to where the restaurant was, and surely it would be here. But, again, no restaurant. So, walking around wondering where it could be, we inquired of a shop owner as to what had happened to the Chinese restaurant and shouldn’t it be here?

It was here, they replied, but it closed. CLOSED?!! No!! That pretty little place with the soft lights and delicious food? The genteel waiter who couldn’t do enough for us? Closed!? Say no! Never again to taste that delicious egg-drop soup?! Are you kidding me!

Sometimes, I feel just like that when I’m ALL SET to buy the prettiest yarn that’s advertised with a knitting pattern I just love, only to find out the yarn is now discontinued and will no longer be manufactured. WHAT?!  So, why is it in this knitting pattern already!? Why, if this magazine knew the yarn was going away would they print it as “what to use” for this pattern! Very frustrating. No?

That’s why yarn substitutions in the Chinese New Year can be such fun!

In an earlier post entitled, Matching Yarns to Your Knitting Projects, I’ve included ideas on which yarns to use for which projects and what to do when you can no longer find the yarn that’s recommended for a knitting project.   🙁

Yarn substitution doesn’t need to be rocket science. Keep in mind every knitting pattern calls for a specific amount of yarn. A bundle of yarns for chinese new yearIn other words, yardage. Always check the recommended yarn to see what the yardage is for that particular yarn. If using multiple skeins or hanks, multiply the yardage by the number of skeins to be used. Then you can go anywhere! Find any yarn that’s comparable and know you’ll have enough.

Looking for soft acrylic yarn? Try this.

Have to have your favorite cotton yarn? Try this.

Wondering which yarn to use to knit your next sweater with? Try this. It’s what I’ll be using.

In the many decades that have come along since the little Chinese restaurant closed in Elizabeth, I’ve found other restaurants that have done nicely; taken the place of those that are no longer open for business. So it is with yarn, too. What is no longer for sale, can easily be replaced by another. Sounds almost cruel, but that’s how it goes when substituting yarns in the Chinese New Year.

As always, take your knitting to heart!               Glitter heart




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