Crochet colorwork can be such a gratifying technique, but often intimidating working with lots of strand of yarn at once. I’ve got some tips and tricks that will help you tackle any colorwork project. In just one small swatch we will work through three techniques to achieve the look we are after. Let’s get started by understanding some of the best tips and terms surrounding crochet colorwork. Stay tunned until the end of the post where there is a FREE Crochet Sheep Bobbin to make your own!
Changing Colors- This by far is the most important step to successful colorwork. In all of the crochet colorwork techniques I use the same method for changing color. To do this clean color change work the last stitch before the color change as a regular single crochet right up until the very last step.
Step 1: Single Crochet- Insert hook into the next stitch, yarn over and draw up a loop, there will be two loops on the hook, now we will STOP.
Step 2: For carrying yarn: If working in the round move the working yarn to the back of your work and toward the stitches just completed. If working in rows move the working yarn either to the back of your work on right side rows, and to the front of your work on wrong side rows. Now yarn over with the new color and draw up a loop working through the two loops on the hook.
For Intarsia or Tapestry: Now yarn over with the new color and draw up a loop working through the two loops on the hook and continue to sc over the yarn strands not currently in use.
Step 3: Tighten up any slack from your previous color and continue with the new color until your next color change.
Fair Isle– This technique originates from a tiny island just north of Scotland and is included in the Shetland Islands. This island, and yes it’s call Fair Isle, is known for this traditional style of colorwork.
This technique is most commonly used in the round, in items such as sweaters, hats, and socks. Usually there are no more than 3 to 4 stitches in the same color. The patterns are build out of alternating colors in the stitches. Often the color strands are carried along the back of the work when not in use.
Below you can see areas of the Rumplemintz hat pattern worked fair isle in both crochet (on the left) and knit (on the right). While this method is more traditionally knit, it can also be used for crochet, especially when utilizing the crochet Split Stitch.
Tapestry Crochet- This technique works multiple colors in one row or round, but there is less of a need to weave in ends. The yarn colors not in use are worked over by the current color and they will sit within the stitches being worked. The colors are not fastened off after each color change. While this method may sound complicated, it’s actually quiet simplistic. It’s a great way to create graphic designs and pictures. This method can be used on patterns like the crochet Sheep Bag or the Alp Tote Bag.
Intarsia Crochet- This method is often used when working blocks of color together and can be reversible. Individual balls or sections of yarns are used and kept in each section. Bobbins are very handy for this type of crochet colorwork. Each color is worked across an area and then that color is dropped as the next color is picked up. This technique is not confined to single crochet as other methods tend to be. Here are a couple of examples of Intarsia in crochet and knit with the Parallel Wrap. It’s a fantastic method for geometric shapes.
The best option for the sheep bobbin image is to upload it into your cricut or other style of cut machine. Set the dimensions of the image to 3 1/2 inches by 2 inches and cut out several! They are so great to have around and easy to use. When the yarn isn’t in use it can be tucked under the sheep’s head so it doesn’t unravel everywhere and cuts down on tangles.
We will be using the following visual chart and different techniques to create a small crochet colorwork swatch. The written instructions are also found below.
← Row 1 [RS]: (with pink sc) x 19
→ Row 2 [WS]: (with pink sc) x 19
← Row 3 [RS]: (with pink sc) x 3, (with green sc) x 13, (with pink sc) x 3
→ Row 4 [WS]: (with pink sc) x 4, (with green sc) x 11, (with pink sc) x 4
← Row 5 [RS]: (with pink sc) x 5, with green sc, with pink sc, with green sc, with pink sc, with green sc, with pink sc, with green sc, with pink sc, with green sc, (with pink sc) x 5
→ Row 6 [WS]: (with pink sc) x 6, with green sc, with pink sc, with green sc, with pink sc, with green sc, with pink sc, with green sc, (with pink sc) x 6
← Row 7 [RS]: (with pink sc) x 7, (with green sc) x 5, (with pink sc) x 7
→ Row 8 [WS]: (with pink sc) x 8, (with green sc) x 3, (with pink sc) x 8
← Row 9 [RS]: (with pink sc) x 9, with green sc, (with pink sc) x 9
→ Row 10 [WS]: (with pink sc) x 19
← Row 11 [RS]: (with pink sc) x 19
Begin working Rows 1 & 2 with the main color pink yarn.
For the colorwork Rows 3 & 4 we will be using the intarsia technique. this means you will need a bobbin of green and pink. As you work rows of intarsia remember to keep the tails on the wrong side of your work. For this exercise the wrong side of the work is the even rows. Click on the images below to make them bigger and scroll through the visual instructions.
For Rows 5 & 6 we will be practicing our fair isle technique by carrying our work on the wrong side. With this method we only need two color strands. It is okay to cut the extra pink color strand on the right side to weave in later. I did not weave any of my ends for this project so the whole process can be seen. Click on the images below to make them bigger and scroll through the visual instructions.
Here is another look at the the FREE Yarn Sheep Bobbin. Simply click to download and print on your cutting machine or by hand. And lastly I want you to go seize the day!!! Remember to enjoy your craft and your crafting friends. Creativity should be fun and the comforts of day!