Color Pooling 105: Stripes

Have you ever had a happy crochet accident, or been inspired by a mistake? (I’ve had my share of mistakes, and not all of them happy!) One of my common frustrations with crocheting the argyle crisscross pattern using color pooling is that the pattern can stop shifting or crossing and start to stripe instead. This is incredibly annoying, but the striping is pretty cool, and it makes a classic pattern.

This accidental striping inspired me to see what other kinds of stripes I could get using color pooling techniques with various variegated yarns. Turns out you can get different kinds of striping effects depending on the variegated yarn you use and whether you crochet in rows or in the round. To learn more about crocheting the argyle print in the round, see Color Pooling 104.

To start, you will need a variegated yarn that has a repeated color pattern. To determine whether or not your yarn has a repeated color pattern, pull out a strand from a ball of variegated yarn and note the colors in order before they repeat. One complete set of colors is called a color sequence. It doesn’t matter how many colors there are in the color sequence or how long each color is, as long as the sequence repeats in the same way throughout the skein. How long each color is in the sequence (and the stitch you use) will determine the width of each stripe.

Note that you can get any variegated yarn to stripe if the color sequence repeats; however, some striping patterns can only be done with certain types of color sequences. Let’s look at a couple of different color sequences and examine how you can get them to stripe.

In some sequences, each color appears only once before the sequence starts again. I call that an ABCD sequence. (If it has three colors, it would be ABC; five colors would be ABCDE.) The number of colors doesn’t matter; they just need to repeat. The number of colors is the number of stripes you’ll get per color sequence.

color pooling

In some sequences, a color appears more than once. The most common sequence of this type is ABAC (e.g., medium grey, black, medium grey, light grey). Sometimes each color is the same length; sometimes the C color is two to three times as long as the other colors. Red Heart Soft’s Garden colorway has an ABACDC sequence (as seen below).

The benefit of creating stripes with a variegated yarn is that you don’t have to buy skeins of different colors to get the stripes, and you don’t have to cut and join yarn at the color changes and weave in those pesky ends! You just need to buy the number of skeins it will take to complete the length of the project (be sure to check the dye lot!).

Striping in the Round

The easiest way to stripe is to work in the round. All variegated yarn with repeated color sequences will stripe. Here’s how to do it:

1. Make a swatch to see how many stitches it takes to get through a color sequence in the stitch you are going to use.

2. Decide how big around the project will be (one color sequence, two color sequences, etc.).

3. Multiply the number of stitches it takes to get through one color sequence by how many sequences around you want your project to be. This is your starting chain (plus however many chains extra you need for turning).
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4. Crochet your foundation chain with the number of stitches you need; end at the beginning of the color sequence. (Note that you might need to crochet extra chains to get to the beginning of a color. Extra chain stitches can be pulled out by pulling the tail through.) For a cleaner start to Round 1, make sure the yarn around the hook is the first color of Round 1. Chain one.

5. Crochet Round 1. Make sure each stitch contains just one color; otherwise, the stripes will look a little less crisp and neat.

6. Join each round with a slip stitch and chain to start the next row, or crochet continuously to avoid a joining seam. Do not turn your work. (*Note: Tall projects worked continuously can contain shifting, or diagonal striping. This is because crochet stitches do not line up exactly on top of one another, but are offset.)

7. Adjust your tension to make sure the colors stripe exactly. Yarn dyeing can be a little imprecise, resulting in slightly longer or shorter sections of each color; crochet more loosely or tightly to get the same number of stitches per color throughout your project.

Striping in Rows

There are more variables in creating stripes when working in rows. Sometimes the striping happens every row; sometimes it happens every other row. Why and when it happens depends on whether your yarn has an ABCD or an ABAC color sequence.

ABCD Color Sequences

In color sequences where the colors only appear once, the colors will not line up when you crochet in rows. That’s because when you turn the work, the colors are flipped, and the sequence seems to be in the opposite order: ABCD turns into DCBA. You will be crocheting the colors in the ABCD order in your new row, but the row below will look like it’s in the DCBA order. When you crochet in the new row, color A will be on color D, and color B will be on color C; when you turn the work again, Row 1 will be back in the ABCD order, but Row 2 will be in the DCBA order.

Working in rows with a ABCD yarn creates stripes that only line up every other row. This striping will be visible, but not quite as obvious as you might like. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to make it more visible. Crocheting in the back loop only will make every other row pop out more, and make the other rows look recessed. Moss stitch (single crochet, chain one) is another good way to make every other row more prominent.

Sequences with an odd number of colors (e.g., ABC and ABCDE) will produce one solid stripe of the center color as long as you crochet through the entire sequence before turning. For example, if you crochet through the ABC sequence once and then turn, the As and Cs will stack in alternating rows and the Bs will stack in every row. *Note: You can crochet through the color sequence more than once. As long as you crochet through the entire color sequence a specific number of times, the As and Cs will always stack on each other and the B’s will always stack on each other.

ABAC Color Sequences

You can create solid stripes or alternating stripes with ABAC color sequences, depending on how you crochet. If you crochet through the entire color sequence before turning, the striping will happen every other row (as in ABCD color sequences).

If you want solid stripes, you have to turn in the middle of certain colors to make sure the colors stack. The key is turning in the middle of a color so that when you turn, you finish that color on itself. Writing it out on paper can help you see where you need to turn to get the colors to stack.

In an ABAC pattern, you can turn in either the middle of B or the middle of C, or both. If you’re crocheting something like a narrow scarf, turn in B and C: Start Row 1 in the middle of C ; crochet through the second half of color C, all of color A, and halfway through color B. Turn. In Row 2, crochet through the second half of B, all of color A, and halfway through color C. Turn. Continue this pattern until your project is the desired length. The colors should line up, although you may need to adjust your tension to make sure it happens neatly.

If you’re making a wider project, you’ll turn in the middle of color C:Start in the middle of color C; crochet through the second half of color C, through all of colors A, B, and A, and half of C. Turn. Crochet through the rest of C, all of A, B, and A, and half of C. Continue in this fashion until you reach your desired size. The colors should always stack on each other in stripes; again, you may need to adjust your tension to make sure it happens neatly.

Experiment with Various Stitches

You can make your projects as wide as you want as long as you follow these guidelines for turning at specific places in color sequences. You can crochet in various stitches as well—just make sure you’re adjusting your tension to create neat stripes. I love color pooling stripes (obviously!), so I’ve experimented with a number of stitch patterns and color sequences to create scarves and swatches. For example, the grey scarf shown above was crocheted in moss stitch (single crochet and chain one); the peach and green swatches (done in single crochet) show striping in an ABACDC sequence where the turning was always done in the middle of B or D.


There are many ways to pool color with variegated yarn. Have you tried all the techniques below?

Color Pooling 101: The Argyle (crisscross) Pattern
Color Pooling 102: The Zigzag Pattern (half the Argyle)
Color Pooling 103: Making Wider Projects with the Argyle Pattern
Color Pooling 104: Making Argyle and Diagonal Stripes in the Round

More Projects to Crochet

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