Tapestry Crochet: Learn to Paint with Crochet
Have you ever tried tapestry crochet? With this technique you can create anything from simple motifs to elaborate images using multiple colors.
Tapestry crochet usually involves only single crochet, so it is accessible to a beginning crocheter. One key tip with tapestry crochet is to always crochet tightly. If the stitches are loose the image can become distorted. If you crochet tightly already you can try the hook size recommended for your yarn weight. If you do not, try the next hook size down. Tapestry crochet fabric is solid and the geometric or image quality of the work is eye-catching, so this technique works wonderfully for wall hangings, bags of all varieties, table runners, baskets and more.
In tapestry crochet, you to use two or more colors to create your design. Each yarn used needs to be the same weight to ensure that the stitches are the same height and to prevent the fabric from pulling. It is also helpful to use yarns that have the same fiber content as each fiber has its own characteristics.
You will only use one yarn color at a time and sometimes that color will be used for only a few stitches. In tapestry crochet, colors are not fastened off when you switch. Instead, you use one of two options for dealing with the unused yarns: Carry the unused yarn on the wrong side of the work, letting it "float" across the back, or crochet over the unused yarn. If you carry the yarn on the wrong side of the work, the project needs to be of the type that the wrong side of it will not be seen, such as bags, pots, table mats, or even a vest or coat where the wrong side will not be visible. If the wrong side of the project will be seen or you do not want to have to deal with long floats, you can work over the unused yarn. Simply lay the unused yarn along the top of the unworked row or round, then work over the top of the unused yarn as if it were a part of the previous row. If using this method, be sure to swatch in the same manner. Working over another yarn will make your stitches taller and change your gauge. It is also likely that a bit of the color from the yarn you are working over will show through the stitches worked over it. Make sure this does not affect the final look of your design in an adverse way. It is not a good idea to work over more than one or two strands of yarn as the stitches can become disproportionately tall and too much of their color may show through the stitch.
Carol (Norton) Ventura is a genius with tapestry crochet, creating everything from bags with simple designs to elaborate self-portraits. In fact, her work The Harvest, won the Interweave Crochet Award in the Crochet as Art category at the recent Crochet Guild of America 2009 Chain Link Conference. In her book Tapestry Crochet, Carol Ventura walks through the technique of tapestry crochet and provides several projects from basic motifs to more elaborate pictures. You can create your own designs or borrow them from other crafts such as needle arts or drawing. Try creating your own design on a piece of graph paper. Typical square graph paper does not exactly match the placement and height of single crochet stitches so swatch your design before beginning the project. Tapestry Crochet includes special graph paper that mimics the shape and angle of the crochet stitches to help you transfer your vision into a crocheted piece.
The Allspice Hat, Diamonds Silk Scarf, and Tapestry Crochet Bag all incorporate tapestry crochet. These are fairly simple projects, so pick up your hook and try them out. For a brief tutorial on how to change colors in tapestry crochet visit the blog.