Intarsia Crochet Basic a.k.a. Tapestry, Graph, or Picture Crochet

Intarsia Crochet Basic teaches the beginning of this skill. Its too bad that this is where most lessons in Intarsia Crochet stop. Why do they stop? You've accomplished your goal and are crocheting some really beautiful things. However, this skill can go way beyond just artful color changes within a crochet fabric.

You need a solid knowledge of crochet. If you are totally new to this idea start by learning to change color with no knot. Then learn how to make the checkerboard stitch.

Intarsia is traced back to the 1300s (mostly in Italy) and is the skill of creating pictures or designs using different colors of wood, bone, stone and other materials - inlayed together - to make a design or picture.

It's unclear when this skill came to fiber arts, however it started first with weaving and knitting around the 1500s, and moved to crochet shortly after.

This is called Intarsia, Tapestry, Graph, or Picture Crochet. It took on the term Tapestry from the weaving skill. Picture Crochet came about as a simple descriptive term. And, Graph Crochet came about because you follow a Graph as your pattern (you may have heard the descriptive 'new' word Graph-gan).

As I said above, the first step is learning how to change your color so it forms a better 'line'. To do that please review color changing and the checkerboard stitch.

Next, download the Intarsia Crochet Heart Pattern. And read the Intarsia Crochet Basic instructions below.

Intarsia Crochet Basic Instructions

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

Count your blocks across the bottom, +1, this equals your chain. In this case there are 18 blocks, +1 = 19. So you would chain 19.

Remember to chain 1 and turn with each row.

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).

Each circle represents the place you will do a color change. Most patterns do not have the circles on them, so carefully look at your 'picture' and draw circles to help you see where color changes must happen.

Intarsia Crochet Basic Color Change

Look at the picture above, third row. You can count 8 solid blocks, 2 blocks with circles, and 8 solid blocks on the other side. The block BEFORE the circle is always the block you make the color change in.

In other words, you would single crochet 7 white blocks. Start the 8th block like normal, drawing up a loop. Finish the stitch with your next color (in my case, blue).

There are two stitches in the center. So your next stitch (in blue) would be a normal single crochet. The second blue stitch would start normal (draw up a loop) and end with pulling the white through both blue loops on the hook.

The nature of crochet is NOT even like knitting. By following the color change 'rule' stated above you have the base color where you want it, and the color change actually folds over the next stitch.

MAKE SURE your yarn always stays on the back of your work (the wrong side). This can really twist your yarn unless you take care of it as you crochet. I discovered that you can't really 'see' the yarn if you bring it across your work, so the threads don't twist. So as in the picture below, I simply bring the yarn to the back. You can see it goes to the front of the stitch. Practice keeping your yarn straight while crocheting and don't worry if it crosses in front. You'll need this little skill if you ever start crocheting with 3, 4, or MORE colors at once, beyond Intarsia Crochet Basic.

Watch the video below to actually 'see' this in action.


There are times you will want to carry your yarn through the second color by crocheting around and over the thread. There are times (for exact color) you will drop the color. For this pattern that would require you to work with 2 skeins of your outer color, and 1 skein of your inner color. I strongly suggest you try both to get a feel for it.

Sometimes, carrying a color through can actually change the final color appearance. On some items you may want the slight color change. On some items you'll want the exact color.

NOTE: The smaller the squares on your graph paper, the more definition you’ll get on your pattern. Start big (like the picture above), work your way to small.


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