Checkerboard Placemat
Crochet Lesson Pattern

The Checkerboard Placemat is a crochet lesson pattern teaching you to work with the basics of intarsia crochet (also called graph crochet or chart crochet). You will learn how to create your own graph to make this, and see additional instruction to help you learn and practice. All while creating this delightful placemat. If you don't know how to do the checkerboard stitch, or need a little more help with it, start here.

Each checkerboard placemat measures about 14.5 inches wide x 12 inches tall. It's a quick crochet project that's easy to bring with you. I got one done in less than day. You could also use this pattern to make a table runner by simply extending the center (small squares) until you have the length you wish.

Materials & Supplies for the Checkerboard Placemat

Crochet Hook: I used an I/9 - 5.5 mm hook. Gauge isn't important with this pattern so you could use a hook that's comfortable for you. Using a smaller hook will result in a smaller placemat, a larger one will make a larger placemat.

Yarn: I used Red Heart Cherry Red and White. Any 4 ply, worsted yarn will work well. Keep in mind that yarn varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and the size you end up with will be different depending on the yarn you use.

Other Supplies: You will also need a scissors and a yarn needle.

Gauge for the Checkerboard Placemat

As stated above, gauge is not important for this pattern. However, my gauge was 16.5 stitches per 4 inches by 15 rows per 4 inches.

Each large square equals 14 stitches by 14 rows. Each small square equals 7 stitches by 7 rows.

Creating Your Graph

I strongly suggest you create a graph of your checkerboard placemat and work from the graph. Not only will this give you a way to track the rows you've completed, it will also give you experience in working with Intarsia Crochet (in its simplest form), and working from a graph. You can print free graph paper here. Make sure you print a piece that has at least 56 squares (wide) by 42 squares (high). Having additional squares can give you extra room for writing notes. 8 squares per inch is easy to see and has enough room to draw your placemat.

Once you get to the website (look just above for the link) you will see the form (this is just a picture, not an active form) and how I set mine to produce the graph paper needed for this project.

So use this link and go to the website. Use the picture below to help you set up for your graph paper. Download the PDF of your graph paper, and print it.

On your graph paper the first 14 squares will be white, followed by 14 squares of red, 14 white, ending with 14 squares of red. If you create 4 boxes (14 x 14) you will have the first 14 rows of the pattern. It's helpful to mark your boxes by color, using a highlighter pen works well, or you could simply put a large dot in the boxes that should be red, or hand write the words "Red" and "White" (Note: you can write whatever colors you are using if you don't want red and white.)

The next 14 rows will have large boxes on the outsides, with small boxes on the insides. The small boxes are 7 by 7. Remember to stagger the colors so you get the checkerboard. You can look at the finished checkerboard place (see picture above) to create your graph.

The last (or top) 14 rows will be exactly like the bottom ones.

Note: At this point do not worry about the center outlining or the finishing edge of the checkerboard placemat. You will do that after you are done crocheting. The top stitch is optional, to set the center apart from the outside and really bring out the checkerboard look. The edging is optional, to give your projected a finished look.

Following Your Graph

Once you have your graph created you can follow basic Intarsia instructions to use it. I've included some basic instruction here (but it is still advised you use the link above to get the full instruction if you are new to this kind of crochet).

Unless otherwise instructed, always work these graphs from the bottom up. Each little block represents one stitch.

Count your blocks across the bottom, +1, this equals your starting chain. In this case there are 56 blocks, +1 = 57. So you would chain 57.

Remember to chain 1 and turn with each row.

Unless you are left handed, you will always be crocheting from right to left. HOWEVER, you will be reading the graph from right to left on one row (the right side of your fabric), followed by reading from left to right on the next one (the wrong side of your fabric).

Color Changing

The 'trick' of color changing is VERY important with this pattern. DO NOT color change like you would with normal crochet. This is fully explained in the Checkerboard Stitch Pattern. Please review this before you start.

In the last stitch of each color block, you begin by pulling up a loop as you normally would. For the big blocks it would be stitch number 14. For the small blocks it would be stitch number 7.

You finish the stitch with the next color. By doing this the new color folds over the next stitch. 

Base Instruction

So, to begin you would use white and chain (ch) 57, then start to single crochet (sc) into your chain (the second chain stitch from your hook) with white.

Row 1: Single Crochet (sc) 13 stitches as normal.

In the 14th stitch you will add red. Begin your Single Crochet (sc) stitch as normal, pulling up a loop. Drop the white and pull a loop of red through to complete the stitch.

DO NOT CUT THE WHITE. From this point on you will crochet holding your unused color against the row and crochet around it. AND, for your color change, also hold the red end and crochet around it. You can drop the loose end of red at about stitch 12 and snip it. 13 stitches red.

Stop every few stitches and make sure the yarn you are crocheting
around is pulled tight. Not too tight that it makes your work pucker,
but you also don't want the yarn to pucker under your stitches.

On the 14th stitch of red start the stitch as normal with red, drop the red and pick up the white to finish the stitch.

Holding your red against the row and crocheting around it, Single Crochet (sc) 13 stitches of white. On the 14th stitch of white start the stitch as normal with white, drop the white and pick up the red to finish the stitch.

Holding your white against the row and crocheting red around it, Single crochet (sc) 14 stitches.

Rows 2 - 14: Chain (ch) 1 and turn. Make sure you pick the color up that you are crocheting around, and make sure that yarn is snuggled into place, just give it a little tug.

Continue following your color pattern, and your graph. Remember to do your color change on the 14th stitch.

Rows 15 - 21: This is where you start crocheting the small blocks in the center. Your two, outside blocks, will still be 14 x 14. But you'll be adding 4 inside blocks of 7 x 7. Also note, your outside blocks are going to be the opposite color now.

Follow your graph. Remember to do your color change, on the inside 4 blocks, on stitch number 7.

Rows 22 - 27: In the next 7 rows the inside blocks are going to alternate in color. The outside blocks will stay the same.

In the picture below you can REALLY see why the outlining (done at the end) is so important. That one, last, little step will set your center blocks apart and give the checkerboard placemat a very professional look.

Rows 28 - 42: The last 14 rows are going to be the same as the first 14 rows. You will change large block color again, and the center will be large blocks as well. 

Exterior Edging for the Checkerboard Placemat

Don't get over excited and cut both ends (I know I do that too many times). Cut the red and tie it to the white - leave a long tail (about 3 - 4 inches) so you can weave it into the checkerboard placemat later.

You will be doing one round of edging in white (this masks the beginning chain) and one round of edging in red.

Chain (ch) 1.

Make sure you have the 'right' side facing you, so you will be going across the top first. Single Crochet (sc) to the corner. 3 Single Crochet (sc) stitches into the corner.

Note that you will not be turning your work as you crochet, you'll be going around the entire checkerboard placemat in the same direction.

Single Crochet (sc) down the side picking up each row. 3 Single Crochet (sc) into that corner.

At the bottom crochet around the beginning chain, into the first actual stitches. This hides the beginning chain and it is also a more solid edge. In the picture below I've marked your hook position with a blue darning needle. It feels a little strange as you are actually crocheting upside down into that row. Single Crochet (sc) across the bottom, 3 Single Crochet (sc) into that corner.

Single Crochet (sc) up the last side, catching each row. Finish the last corner with 2 Single Crochet (sc) stitches (you started it with 1).

Leaving long tail ends (about 3 - 4 inches) cut the white and tie on red. Single Crochet (sc) around again. At each corner find the center of your 3 previous stitches and Single Crochet (sc) 3 stitches into that one.

Top Stitching aka Outlining

The lesson on Top Stitching / Outlining, is located here (please click and get your free copy).

ON THE BACK of your Checkerboard Placemat, in a corner where the small squares meet the large ones, pull yarn around a post and tie it into a knot. See pictures 1 and 2 below. Make sure and leave a long tail end so you can weave it in later.

Turn your work over, insert your hook into the same position, pull a loop up and through - holding your yarn on the back. 

Its very important now to guide your hook in a straight line, stitch by stitch. Basically, you will be doing a Slip Stitch, only on the top of the checkerboard placemat.

In the next space between stitches - from the top of your work, through to the back - insert your hook, loop the yarn from the back and pull up another loop. Your hook will always face the direction you are going.

Finish the stitch by pulling that loop through the other. Move to the next space between stitches, pull up another loop from the back, finish the stitch by pulling that loop through the one on your hook. Continue all the way around.

You will simply turn your work at a corner and continue top stitching.

At the end cut your yarn on the back (leave a long tail) and pull it up through to the front. Pull that end through your last loop and pull it tight. Pull that loose end to the back so you can weave it in (I knot mine to the beginning thread, just for security). 

This is the simplest form of Intarsia Crochet. In this lesson / pattern for a checkerboard placemat you've learned the 'trick' of color changing, and a stitch technique to carry your yarn colors through your work. Yes, actual Intarsia Crochet is a little more involved. But the simplest of techniques can be used to create beautiful items. With advanced Intarsia Crochet you can actually create works of art from photographs or involved designs. And, when it comes right down to it, it isn't difficult. Yes, you CAN DO IT.


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