Knit Picks Mighty Stitch Yarn

Tapestry Crochet Color Change,
Carry Yarn

Tapestry Crochet Color Change is just a little bit different than a standard crochet color change. Because crochet stitches do not layer one on top of the other (like knit) you actually need to change your color before you finish your stitch. This allows the new color to lay on top of the stitch, rather than having a bit of the old color in the design. It also creates a crisper line definition to actually make pattern designs and pictures look better.

I use this method of color changing for more than just tapestry work. In many of the items I crochet, I want a ‘crisper’ look to the color change, and this is so easy why not use it?

This lesson covers carrying one color while crocheting with the other. And, changing colors in the middle of your work. Tapestry Crochet Color Change is a foundation lesson. Follow along with the lessons and we will create a checkerboard design and make a simple checkerboard dishcloth. 

Tapestry Crochet Color Change, Carrying Colors

In Tapestry Crochet most of your color changes happen in the row (instead of at the end). After all, you are creating designs or pictures within your work. But first I want to explain what it means to “Carry” a color.

Basically, you will be crocheting with one color, and carrying the second color just under the stitches. In order to do this you hold the yarn over the row, and crochet around it. By doing this your second color ‘travels’ with you and is in place when it’s time to do a color change. This eliminates the need to cut, tie, and hide ends while you work. 

However, it also shows a bit of the color on the inside. For some patterns this is beautiful. As a matter of fact, many checkerboard and plaid patterns call for this. It’s also the easiest way to do basic picture work.

One Hard & Fast Rule: If you are going to carry a color, do it for the whole project. If you are going to cut and tie, then do that for the whole project.

The reason is simple: Carrying a piece of yarn, under your stitches actually raises your stitches just a little bit. That ‘little bit’ changes your gauge per row. So, if you carry colors through a full piece - except one area - your entire work will look a little warped because the ‘gauge’ has changed.

How To Start Carrying Colors

Most patterns will tell you what color to do your first chain in. If it doesn’t you need to know which color to use. Ask yourself, “What color are my first few stitches going to be?”

The answer to that question is the answer to what color your chain should be. My answer is, “My first few stitches will be white.” That’s the color of my chain - white.

I’m working with a blue and white checkerboard pattern, so in this case I need to add blue at the beginning. To add the second color at the beginning, lay it across with the loose end on the outside. This should also be over (or on top of) the chain.

In this picture my blue is laying over the chain, and I’m about to make my first stitch using white. As I crochet white into the chain, I’ll hold the blue over the chain, so I crochet around / over it. This puts the blue inside the stitches, and the blue effectively travels with me.

Tapestry Crochet Color Change, Changing a Color, Carrying a Color

With Tapestry Crochet Color Change, because you are carrying the next color with you, while you crochet, the next color is in place when it comes time to change colors.

At the LAST stitch of the current color, (if you are doing boxes of 5 stitches - your last stitch would be number 5) insert your hook into the correct place …..

….. and draw up a loop just like you normally would.

This puts 2 loops on your hook.

Instead of bring the white yarn through the 2 loops, you would drop the white yarn, and catch the blue. Pulling the blue through the 2 loops will keep the white in the correct location, but that blue loop will fold over the next stitch.

IMPORTANT TIP, Straighten Out Your Yarn - Yarn Tension

Just before you change the color, take a moment to gently pull the yarn you’ve been carrying. This is a snuggle. Don’t pull so hard that you bunch up the stitches.

It will always happen. The yarn you are carrying will always bunch up a little. If you do pull too tight, simply straighten the stitches back out, before you continue.

When you snuggle the yarn in it will straighten up and seat itself into the work.

So don’t forget; When doing Tapestry Crochet Color Change, ALWAYS take the time to snuggle your yarn in.

At The End with Tapestry Crochet Color Change


Don’t forget to bring the yarn you’re carrying up over the stitches of the row after you’ve chained 1 and turned.

You would most likely laugh if you knew how many times I’ve forgotten to do this and needed to pull out a few stitches.

One important thing to note is that a loop at the end is common. You will take care of this when you snuggle your yarn (see above). Just remember not to pull too tight or you’ll pull the end out of shape.

If you ever do pull too tight, you can always pull the stitches in the opposite direction to straighten them back out. This works for snuggling your yarn in the middle of the row too.

Tapestry Crochet Color Change - Row End Color Change

Rarely will you need to do a color change at the end (or beginning) of a row when creating a Tapestry. However, there are some designs that run the full length of your fabric. And plaids and checkerboards will change colors at the end.

The easiest method would be to simply change color before you chain and turn. Because most tapestry pieces have a border this rarely presents a problem. However, if you want a crisper appearance to the row end do your color change into the last stitch, just like a normal color change (see above), Then as you chain 1 and turn you’ll be bring up the next color. As I said above, it rarely matters as most tapestries have a boarder.

Tapestry Crochet Color Change - TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR WORK

Tapestry Crochet Color Change -Tip #1: ALWAYS keep your yarn in the same order.

This goes for multiple colors as well, but we’ll talk about that a little later. If your yarn sits beside you make sure the yarn is in the same order (maybe blue on top, white on bottom). If your yarn sits in front of you keep it in the same order (maybe blue on the right, and white on the left). The ACTUAL order doesn’t matter. What matters is that you always keep it the same. So if you stop your project in the middle, make sure and take note of the order of your colors - and set it back up the same when you start again.

Here’s why: Take a look at the picture. This is specific to crochet tapestry, you will always have little threads that sort of bleed over. As you progress and work with thinner yarn and smaller hooks these will blend in much better.

However, if you don’t keep your colors in the same order this will become very apparent, and the threads will begin looking jaggy. They will change location - just enough - to change the look of the tapestry.

If you’re COCD (Crochet Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - hehe) the ‘strange look’ will drive you nuts. This is not something that’s often taught in tapestry books.

Tapestry Crochet Color Change - Tip #2: A way to keep your yarn from tangling.

This method works wonderful for simple color changes (2 or 3 colors). There are other methods for more advanced tapestry work. Out of habit crocheters drop their yarn behind their work. In simple tapestry projects you can change this habit and keep your yarn from tangling.

In the tip above I mentioned the importance of keeping your yarn in the same order. For this example I’m going to say that my white is on the left, and my blue is on the right.

When changing color from white to blue, the yarn on the left (the white), can be dropped in front of the work. Pick up the blue to change color. Then bring the white back up to crochet around it.

This keeps the white on the left and the blue on the right. No twisting and tangling. Just remember to snuggle it tight.

Then, when changing color from blue to white, the yarn on the right (the blue), can be dropped behind the work. Pick up the white to change color. Then bring the blue back up to crochet around it.

This keeps the blue on the right and the white on the left. Again, no twisting and tangling.

As I said above, this works for simple tapestry (2 or 3 colors) where you are carrying one color while crocheting with the other. And as I present more advanced lessons I’ll show you more advanced methods.

Want More Lessons and Ideas About Tapestry, Fairisle, and Intarsia Crochet?

See The Index on the Website:

How To Read and Work With Graph Patterns

This lesson is so simple that you’ll wonder why graph patterns ever made you nervous, lol. Reading and working with a graph pattern, no matter if it’s for Tapestry, Fairisle, Intarsia, or even Filet Crochet, opens up a world of beautiful patterns. Want to get an idea of what’s possible? Just do a search for Cross Stitch Patterns (but don’t forget to come back here).

Checkerboard Dishcloth / Trivet
Free Practice Pattern

This pattern includes both a little written instruction, and the simple graph pattern. It’s a super easy little pattern that will allow you to practice color changes, work with your yarn tension, and using the graph pattern to crochet your project. Practicing what you’ve just learned (see above) is just as important as reading the lessons.

Go Beyond Checkerboards
Available in Mom’s Crochet Shop

This ebook includes a design for Brickwork, Gingham, Houndstooth, and Jigsaw. Often people don't realize that these historic designs did originate from the checkerboard.

Learn More

Click the button, "Free Lesson Download" to download your free PDF copy of Tapestry Crochet Color Change.

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Notice of Copyright © by Sandy Marie, May 2017. All rights reserved.

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