Crochet in Color: Creating Colorwork in Your Crochet

By Toni Rexcoat

Learn how to crochet in color with these expert tips, such as this crochet changing colors project shown.

Project from Crochet in Color.

There are so many yarn colors available now. I have spent fifteen or twenty minutes staring at the shelves in my local yarn store, unable to decide between the myriad of colors a single yarn brand may offer. Which one should I choose? The answer is simple. Who says I have to pick just one?

The idea of selecting multiple colors and then combining them to create a crochet colorwork afghan, shawl, sweater, bag, or other accessory can seem daunting.

In her book, Crochet in Color, as well as her DVD workshop, Colorful Crochet, Kathy Merrick offers several tricks for choosing your perfect yarn color combinations:

Learn how to combine different yarn colors in your colorwork crochet projects.

Project from Colorful Crochet.

  1. Play with color combination in embroidery yarn. They are relatively inexpensive and come in hundreds of colors. Test color schemes playing with tones, shades, and color groupings.
  2. Take inspiration from photographs, paintings, or woven fabrics. Combine the colors that are used in your inspiration work to create crochet colors with the same feel.
  3. Watch out for screamers. White, black, and bright yellows can function as “screamers,” drawing excessive attention. Try adding small amounts of these eye-catching colors, but don’t get carried away.
  4. Color can surprise you. Choose a number of colors that you really like, then try adding a color that you aren’t normally very fond of using. You might be surprised at how well that color compliments your color scheme.
  5. And most importantly, have fun. Choose colors that you love. The most important person to please is yourself.

Now that you have chosen your favorite color combinations, it’s time to try them out with some crochet colorwork techniques.

Tapestry Crochet Tips

The most common crochet technique to paint or create pictures with crochet is through tapestry crochet. Because it is worked exclusively in single crochet, tapestry crochet is easily accessible to beginners and still quite enjoyable for advanced crocheters. This easy crochet technique uses two or more colors at the same time, crocheting with a single color at a time while working over the top of the unused colors.

When working tapestry crochet, you do not fasten off a color before switching yarns, but instead change colors by working to the last yarn over with the current color. Work the last yarn over and draw through two loops with the new color. When working tapestry crochet, work the single crochet stitches tightly. This keeps the stitches from distorting and helps cover the colors worked over. Tapestry crochet is particularly popular for geometric designs, at the right you’ll find a few tapestry crochet patterns you might really enjoy.

Reversible Intarsia Crochet

Intarsia crochet patterns have only recently joined the crochet colorwork scene, though it is a common knitting technique. Intarsia crochet is worked with individual balls or bobbins of yarn used each time you’re changing colors in crochet patterns.

The individual bobbins of color are picked and worked as you crochet across the piece. When a new bobbin or color is reached, the old one is dropped. This method allows you to use double or treble crochet stitches without stranding the unused colors on the wrong side of the piece. Because the yarn is not stranded, you can crochet fully reversible pieces, making it perfect for afghans and scarves. Like tapestry crochet, the patterning or pictures created through colorwork are clear on both sides of the work, but unlike tapestry crochet, intarsia crochet makes it possible for you to work in crochet stitches other than single crochet. Here are a few examples of how in intarsia crochet, changing colors can create stunning results.

Crocheted Stripes

Stripes are the easiest way to create crochet colorwork. Inherently youthful, crochet stripes are a simple way to add color to a project and an accessible technique for even the newest crocheter. You can work the stripes evenly, or crochet stripes of varying heights to add more visual interest. And you can incorporate stripes into any project from afghans and pillows to sweaters and amigurumi. At the right you’ll see just a few of the fun ways for changing colors in crochet using stripes.

Whether you find yourself inspired by tapestry crochet, reversible intarsia, or simple crochet stripes, jump into crochet colorwork today by ordering a workshop, book, or pattern that inspires your creativity.