Crochet Basics: Common Questions & Answers
Hello, my dear crocheters! I keep answering some of the most common questions you have and to anticipate some questions you didn’t know you had about working with color in crochet. Today I invite you to learn how to change colors within a row or round, why the color changes might look messy, how to incorporate two or more colors on the same row or round, what to do if yarn gets tangled on the wrong side when you work with colors, and more. I hope that this information will lead you down the road to gaining the confidence needed for good crocheting. And I hope you will find solutions to every problem you’ll ever face in crochet.
Question 1. How do I change colors within a row or round?
Follow this procedure on the last stitch before you want the new color to start:
Work until there are two loops on the hook. Leaving a tail of about 6" of the new color, yarnover with the new color.
2. Pull through both remaining loops on hook. Now continue working in the new color.
Question 2. Why do my color changes look messy?
Make sure you are starting the new color soon enough; that is, when there are still two loops of the old color left on the hook. Do this even at the end of a row/round, when the first stitch of the next row/round will be in a new color. Or for an even nicer color change at the end of a row/round, fasten off the old color and start the new color with a standing stitch. If you have been securing the tail of the old color by working over it in the new color stitches, you may be getting some telltale color showing through. Wait until the piece is finished to worry about those ends, then work the tails into the back of the same-color stitches.
You could be having problems with the tension on the old and new stitches; if so, simply adjust the size of the stitches when you weave in the ends.
Question 3. How to incorporate two or more colors on the same row or round?
Work with only one color per stitch. The challenge is what to do with the other color. The solution depends on how far the other yarn has to travel to its next stitch. You «may carry the unused yarn loosely across the back of the work (called stranding), catch it behind/under the stitches you are working, or drop it and start a new length of yarn for each section of color (called intarsia).
Question 4. What is intarsia? How to work it?
Intarsia uses separate lengths of yarn for each section of color. Start by determining how many different color sections you will be working across the row, and cut a corresponding number of yarn lengths in the appropriate color. The length of each separate yarn may vary based on the area to be stitched. Work in the first color (Color A) as indicated, then drop color A and begin the next color (Color B), allowing Color A to hang on the wrong side. When you have completed the B section, start with a new, separate length of Color A (or the next color), and continue across the row, using a separate piece of yarn for each color section. On the following row, the color or yarn you need should be waiting there for you to pick up as you come to each color change. If you prefer, you can work from full balls of yarn rather than shorter strands, but take care to rearrange the yarns as needed to prevent them from tangling. Remember to start each new color on the last “yarnover, pull through” step of the old color to avoid color bleed.
Question 5. My yarn gets tangled on the wrong side when I work with colors. Am I doing something wrong?
You aren’t doing anything wrong; it’s just a feature of some types of color work. Some crocheters wind lengths of yarn onto yarn bobbins to make the yarns more manageable. Others prefer to cut long lengths of yarn and allow them to hang out and look messy on the wrong side of the work, pulling each strand free of its brothers as they work (my favorite). Still others prefer to use one of several types of commercially made yarn holders.
If you alternate the way you turn the work at the end of each row (clockwise one time, counterclockwise the next) the colors will untwist themselves every other row. This only works, however, if you don’t twist the colors when you pick up a new color; just drop the old color and hold it to the right (Lefties: to the left) when you pick up the new color.
Question 6. Why does my fabric pucker when I’m working with different colors?
You are pulling the yarn floats too tightly across the back of the fabric. Take care to allow plenty of slack as the unused yarn travels across the back of the stitches. You may want to use one of the other color methods instead.
Question 7. Can I carry unused yarns up the side of the fabric?
If the yarn doesn’t have to travel very far (no more than a few rows), it’s fine to carry an unused yarn up the side of a piece. Make sure you keep it loose, and catch it once or twice in a turning chain. However, cut the yarn and start it again if you are using lots of different colors. If carried vertically, several yarns together create too much seam bulk.