Crochet Colorwork Methods and How to Do It

Crochet Colorwork Methods and How to Do It

Colorwork in crochet refers to techniques that allow you to incorporate multiple colors into your projects, creating beautiful patterns, motifs, or designs. Once you learn to hold your crochet hooks and work the basic crochet stitches you can work out any colorwork pattern. You can start by working with multiple color yarns and then move forward with unique methods and techniques.

Now colorwork in crochet can be easily worked with multiple yarns. Work with a palette of matching shades or contrasting colors for effect. This requires nothing more than changing yarns. You can opt to snip out the yarn (old color) and weave in the ends with a finishing needle and introduce the new yarn (new color). Or, you can carry the yarn when it is required for the next color change. You can refer to our easy guide on changing colors when crocheting.

Here are three common methods for crochet colorwork:

Stranded Crochet

Stranded colorwork in knitting came from Scandinavia, Iceland and the Shetland Islands but found its way into crochet. The stranded colorwork crochet technique uses multiple colors while working in the same row or round. The name comes from stranded loose yarn strands or “floats” that are carried between stitches along the back of the fabric. It is best recommended for small patterns with color repeats where the floats are short as it is very unmanageable and messy to work with longer floats.

The technique works best for non-reversible patterns, where the wrong side stays away from the spotlight and helps hide the “messy-looking” network of yarn. In this method, you carry both colors of yarn across the row, working with one color at a time.

Step 1: Start by holding the main color (MC) yarn behind your work and the contrasting color (CC) yarn in front.

Step 2: Insert your crochet hook into the stitch, yarn over with MC, and pull through. Before completing the stitch, drop MC and pick up CC, then yarn over and pull through to complete the stitch.

As you work across the row, carry the unused color along the back of the stitches, catching it with the working yarn to create floats.

Pay attention to the tension of your floats to avoid puckering or distorting the fabric.

Tapestry Crochet

Worked with two yarn colors, Tapestry crochet is the oldest crochet technique of changing colors and creating geometric or artistic patterns. You can carry both colors of yarn throughout the entire row but only work over one color at a time. This creates a dense, sturdy fabric that is perfect for items like bags, baskets, and home decor. The unused color is carried along the back of the work and is picked up when needed.

Intarsia Crochet

Intarsia crochet is a technique where you use separate bobbins or balls of yarn for each color block in your design. You do not carry the unused color along the back of the work, but instead, you drop it and pick up the next color when needed. This creates a fabric with fewer floats on the back, which is ideal for items like blankets, sweaters, and scarves.

Both techniques require some practice and patience, but they can produce beautiful results. It's up to you to decide which technique is best for your project and personal preferences.

With both Tapestry and Intarsia crochet, you change colors by dropping one yarn and picking up the next at each color change.

Step 1: Start by crocheting with the first color until you reach the point where you want to switch colors.

Step 2: Drop the first color and pick up the new color, leaving a tail of the first color behind.

Step 3: Begin crocheting with the new color, working over the previous color's tail to secure it.

Step 4: When you need to switch back to the first color, drop the second color and pick up the first color again, working over the tail of the second color.

This method is great for creating large, solid color blocks or motifs.

Overlay Mosaic Crochet

Overlay crochet involves crocheting a base fabric in one color and then adding decorative stitches or motifs in contrasting colors on top.

Start by crocheting your base fabric in the main color. Once it is complete, you can use a different color to work surface stitches, such as slip stitches, single crochet, or puff stitches, over the base fabric. Follow a chart or pattern to know where to place the overlay stitches. This method allows you to create intricate designs or images on top of a solid-colored background.

When working with multiple colors in crochet, keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep your tension even to avoid loose or tight stitches.
  • Weave in loose ends as you go to minimize the finishing work.
  • Practice color management by twisting or carrying the unused yarn behind your work to prevent tangling or snagging.
  • Use stitch markers or bobbins to keep your yarn organized and prevent confusion.

Crochet Colorwork Methods and How to Do It

What to do with the yarn tails?

The many yarn tails can be dealt with any multiple ways.

Carrying Unused Colors  

On any right side (RS) row of your project, crochet over the unworked strands and carry them through stitches until needed again. They will not be visible on the RS but look like a labyrinth. The floating technique of carrying yarns is much better. Simply yarn over (YO) to change colors, while letting yarn float across the back of the work. It is not necessary to carry the colors for every project.

Snip out the tails

You can snip the yarn tail whenever you do not need to work with it. You can weave the ends while working on the project or get them done later after your project is finished and blocked. Thread your finishing needle with yarn ends and go through the stitches to bury them in the fabric.

Remember, colorwork in crochet may require some practice and patience, but it opens up endless possibilities for creating unique and eye-catching projects. Enjoy exploring different color combinations and techniques to add vibrant personality to your crochet creations!

With the range of handcrafted crochet hooks and accessories from the Lantern Moon Collection, enjoy crocheting any project and pattern with all types of yarns. The premium crochet hooks made from ebony wood have a liquid-silk finish that allows stitches to glide. Whether you are a beginner or a skilled crocheter, explore single-ended as well as interchangeable Tunisian crochet hooks and sets.

Happy crocheting! 

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