Tutorial: Crochet Colourwork

IMG_0818 Hello there! I am posting today to share a fun tutorial with you. Remember my Moroccan bag? Well the pattern is still in the works but I realised it would be very useful to create a tutorial for the crochet colourwork techniques I use in my patterns and then I can refer you to them whenever necessary.

I currently use two crochet colourwork techniques: stranded colourwork and tapestry crochet. Both techniques allow you to change between two (or more) colours in a single row and unlike knitting it doesn’t matter if your design has long colour changes. You can use these techniques to play with colour in any way you want but I particularly like to use them to create designs based on charts. For working with charts,  UK double crochet (US single crochet) is a good stitch to use, since it is sort of like a small square. Also, for both techniques I work on the back loop only (BLO) since in my opinion it gives the best result.
My Moroccan bag pattern uses tapestry crochet
My Moroccan bag pattern uses tapestry crochet
Stranded colourwork, as its name indicates, creates a fabric where the unused colour is carried at the back of the work as a strand (this is basically what you do for fair isle knitting). If you are working something like a hat or glove make sure your strands are quite short so that you don’t catch them with rings, hair pins, etc. I make my strands 3 stitches long maximum which works for me.
My Night to Day wrist warmers use stranded colourwork
My Night to Day wrist warmers use stranded colourwork
With tapestry crochet the unused colour is carried inside the stitches, creating a bulkier and stiffer fabric, however I have seen beautiful blankets done with this technique so you can adapt it to your needs by changing hook sizes and yarn weights.I leave you with a photo tutorial for each of these techniques, as usual let me know if you have any questions and I hope to post the pattern for the Moroccan bag soon!

 

Tapestry crochet tutorial (UK terms)

As I mentioned before, I always work on the back loop only (BLO) for any colourwork technique. For demonstration purposes, let’s say that we have a chart that tells us that we need to work 4 stitches in one colour and then 4 stitches on a different colour, alternating them along the row. Remember that with tapestry crochet you always carry the unused colour inside the stitches, and you do this from the first stitch of the row.

I have worked a couple of rows of dc to use as a base and make it easier to show you, but it would be the same instructions if you were working your first row into a chain. It also applies if you are working in the round.

Chain 1.

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2. Insert your hook on the BLO of the first stitch.
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 3. Grab your second colour and hold it behind the back loop and over your hook.
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 4. Yarn over and pull up a loop.
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5. Yarn over and pull through two loops on hook. First dc completed, and the pink yarn is secured inside the first stitch.
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6. According to our chart we have to work 4 stitches before changing colour so let’s continue in the same way.
Insert hook in BLO, place unused colour behind back loop and over hook, yarn over and pull up a loop.
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7. Yarn over and pull through two loops. Second dc completed. Repeat the same steps to complete the third dc.
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8. Now, to get a neat colour change we need to change colours one stitch before: if I need my fifth stitch to be a different colour, I need to change yarns on the fourth stitch.
So let’s begin the fourth stitch as normal, which is still in grey.
Insert hook in BLO, place unused colour behind back loop and over hook, yarn over and pull up a loop.
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 9. Now drop the colour you have been working with (grey), yarn over with the other colour (pink) and pull through both loops on hook.
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10. Perfect! We will need some adjustment here to make sure all stitches are the same size so before continuing pull that grey yarn to make that last stitch look nicer.
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 11. And now we just continue the same way, let’s work until the next colour change to make sure it is all clear.
Insert your hook in BLO, place unused yarn (now grey) behind back loop and over hook, yarn over and pull up a loop.
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12. Yarn over and pull through two loops on hook. Repeat for next two stitches.
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13. Since we need to have four stitches of each colour we will need to change colour on the next stitch.
Insert hook in BLO, place unused yarn behind back loop and under hook, yarn over and pull up a loop.
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14. Drop the yarn you have been working with (pink), grab unused yarn (grey), yarn over and pull through both loops on hook.
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15. Now adjust your stitch so that it looks just like the others and you are ready to continue your row! You should have something that looks similar to this on both sides, it creates a reversible fabric.
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Stranded colourwork tutorial

For stranded colourwork you change colours the same way, you just don’t catch the yarn inside the stitches like tapestry crochet. Because you leave strands of yarn at the back you can only work this technique in the round, however for demonstrating purposes I am using a flat piece to show you the technique just so that it looks more clear.

Let’s assume we have the same chart that tells us to change colour every four stitches for each round (remember we can’t work rows with stranded crochet).

1. Chain one. Work 3dc in BLO.

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2. Insert hook in BLO, yarn over and pull up a loop.
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2. Drop the colour you have been working with, grab the second colour (you can do a slip knot here but it is not necessary), yarn over and pull through both loops on hook.
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 3. Adjust that last stitch by pulling that grey yarn to make it look more like its brothers…
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4. Pick up the pink yarn again to continue with this colour. Work 3dc in BLO.
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 5. Insert hook in BLO, yarn over and pull up a loop.
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 6. Drop the colour you have been working with, grab the other colour, yarn over and pull through both loops on hook.
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7. Repeat the previous steps to finish your round. You will have something like this on the back of your work.
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Finally, I want to show you how to make those strands shorter if you wanted. The strands are as long as the stitches between colour changes (in this case four) but this may not always be the case or maybe you think these strands of 4 stitches are too long for you. To shorten the strands we simply use the technique we already learned for tapestry crochet to “catch” the yarn inside the stitch. Let me show you.

If we continue with the round we are working with, let’s say we want to the strands half as long, meaning we need to “catch” that unused strand between two colour changes.

1. Work one dc in BLO.

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2. We want to catch the yarn in the next stitch. So, insert hook in BLO, place unused yarn behind back loop and over hook, yarn over and pull up a loop. Yarn over and pull through two loops.

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 3. Continue normally until next colour change and then catch the yarn again before the following colour change. I caught the yarn on the second stitch of each set of four stitches, but you could do it on the third or wherever you want. You will get something like this on the back. Shorter strands!
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Uf! That was long, hope it is useful 🙂

x

Sol

Free Xmas Pattern and Tutorial: Mini Fair Isle Hats

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*Ravelry link*

Well we are definitely in holiday season: lights are starting to appear, Christmas songs can be heard in every shop and markets soon will follow in my part of the world. And what better way of getting into the Xmas spirit than crocheting this cute little fair isle ornaments!

This pattern works up very quickly, it only has two rows of colorwork but I have prepared a full tutorial so that you can follow it no matter what level of crochet you are comfortable with. I used a DK yarn and 3.5mm hook, but you could also use a 4mm (see the small difference in size in picture below).

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And here it is!

Mini Fair Isle Hats Tutorial

This pattern is worked in the round, starting with a row of foundation double crochet. It has two rounds of colourwork where the unused colour is carried as strands on the inside of the hat. The pompom gives the final touch for this cute little Xmas ornament.

Size

8cm (3″) tall

Materials

3.5mm hook (could be replaced for a 4mm if necessary)

DK yarn in two Xmas colours (or any of your preference), I used Stylecraft Special DK in Lipstick, Spring Green and Cream from a blanket I have in progress

Needle to weave in ends

 Pompom maker 2cm diameter (bought or made by yourself)

Abbreviations

ch – chain

st – stitch

sl st – slip stitch

fdc – UK foundation double crochet

dc – UK double crochet

dc2tog – UK double crochet decrease

BL – back loop of chain

Stitch guide

fdc: Follow this link for a tutorial.

dc2tog: insert hook in stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, insert hook in next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, yarn over and pull through 3 loops on hook.

Notes:

  • When joining each round, slip stitch to first dc (not turning chain), pull very tight to make that stitch as small as possible, then chain one, and pull tight again to make that chain very small. This technique by Crochet Ever After helps keep a straight and less noticeable seam.
  • The first st of each round is done in the same st where you joined with a sl st.
  • I have written the instructions for the cream/red hat so those will be the colours I will reference to, just keep your own colours in mind when following the pattern.
  • Number of stitches in parenthesis shows how many stitches you should have at the end of the round.

Instructions:

1. With the cream colour make 24 fdc (here is a tutorial for this stitch). Make sure your tail is not too short, since you will be using it to close a little gap once finished.

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2. Form a circle making sure you are not twisting the stitches.

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3. Join to first st with sl st. Pull tight to make it as small as possible. As you can see there is a small gap, we will sew both sides together at the end.

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4. Keeping your hook where it is, make a slip knot with the other colour.

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5. Pull the red loop through the white one and pull tight (pull the white yarn tight as well).

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6. Ch 1, pull tight. You will continue working with the red yarn, leave the white in the back and don’t cut it since you will pick it up again soon.

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7. Dc in the back loop (BL) of the same stitch where you did the sl st. From here onwards all dc should be in the back loop only. Dc in next st and every st across (24st).

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8. Join to first st of the round with sl st, pull tight.

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9. Ch 1, pull tight (You should pull tight after the sl st and ch 1 when closing every round from here onwards, but won’t keep repeating it :P)

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 10. Insert your hook in the BL of the first st (where you did the sl st) yarn over and pull up a loop. Drop the red yarn, yarn over with the white and pull through both loops on hook.

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11. Insert your hook in the BL of next st, yarn over and pull up a loop.

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12. Drop white yarn, yarn over with red yarn and pull through two loops on hook.

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13. You will repeat steps 10 to 12 until the end of the round (one red st, one white, one red, one white…), but first I will show you how to keep your yarns from tangling. Like on step 10, insert your hook in the BL of next st, yarn over and pull up a loop.

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14. If your yarns are tangled already, untangle them and put the white yarn on your left, the red one in front of you. Now you need to pick up the white yarn, so drop the red in front of you and pick up the white from your left. You will notice that the white goes under the red when doing this. Yarn over and pull through 2 loops.

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15. Let’s do one more so that it is clear. Insert your hook in BL of next st, yarn over and pull up a loop.

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16. Now drop your white yarn to your left, and pick up the red from the front.

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17. Yarn over with the red and pull through both loops.

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18. If you continue dropping the white to the left and the red to the from your yarns won’t get tangled. Continue this way until the last st, which should be a white one.

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19. Dc in last st without changing colour.

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20. Still with the white yarn, sl st to first st and ch 1 (pull tight!)

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21. We will do the exact same steps for this round as for the last one, except we will do opposite colours, so if the st was red in the last round, in this round you will do a white one and so on. So the first st of the previous round is red (the one where you did the sl st), since we are working with a white yarn already we don’t need to change colours. Insert your hook in the BL of the first st, yarn over and pull up a loop.

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22. Drop your white yarn to the left and pick up the red in from of you. Yarn over and pull through both loops.

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23. Repeat steps 10 to 12 until last st of round, which should be a red st.

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24. Dc in last st without changing colours.

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25. Sl st to first st, ch 1.

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26. And you are done with the two rounds of colourwork! It is quite easy from here. Still with the red colour, dc in first st and each st across. Remember we haven’t increased or decreased so you should still have 24 st.

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27. Sl st to first st.

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28. Drop the red colour, pick up the white, yarn over and pull through loop on hook. Pull the red yarn tight.

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29. Ch 1 with white and pull tight. You won’t be using the red yarn again so you can cut it now, leaving a tail long enough to weave in comfortably.

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30. Dc in first st and each st across. Sl st to first st, ch 1.

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31. Dc in first st, dc in next 3 st.

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32. Dc2tog in next 2 st (see stitch guide at the top).

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33. Continue this way (4dc, dc2tog in next 2 st) until the end. You should finish with one dc2tog in the last 2 stitches. Sl st to first st, ch 1. (20st)

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34. Dc in first st and each st across. Sl st to first st, ch 1.

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35. Dc in first st, dc in next st, dc2tog in next two stitches.

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36. Continue this way (2dc, dc2tog) until the end. You should finish with one dc2tog in the last 2 stitches. Sl st to first st and ch 1. (15st)

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37. dc2tog in first two st, place a st marker in the st just finished.

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38. dc2tog across until last st. Dc in last st. Sl st to marked st, ch 1 (8st).

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39. dc2tog in first two stitches, place a marker in st just made.

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40. Dc2tog until the end. Sl st to marked st (4st). Fasten off.

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Weave in ends and close the small gap in the first round. You don’t need to close the gap at the top since the pompom will cover it. Make a pompom and attach it to the top, use a piece of yarn or ribbon to make string.

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Let me know if you have any questions, I know some pictures are not great but days are very grey at this time of year. I hope to get better with the pictures with time 🙂

If you want to make the Santa hat in the first picture you just need to make a the first white row of fdc in white and then change to red for the rest of the pattern without changing colours. Easy peasy!

x

Sol

Craftsy Class Review: Fair Isle Crochet

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Hello there! How’s autumn (or spring) treating you? I think I am still in denial and have refused to turn the heating on yet but I know the time will come sooner rather than later. As I mentioned in my journey update  I want to do some reviews for you of online classes and books I have found useful and I will begin with the first online class I took called “Fair Isle Crochet”.

Before I get on with the review I would like to make clear that I have not been sponsored by Craftsy (trust me I am not that popular), I bought this class with my own money and the opinions written here are my own. So first, if you haven’t heard of Craftsy they offer online classes of various things such as knitting, crocheting, cooking, sewing, gardening, cooking, quilting and much more. The videos are available on any device you want, in HD quality and you can keep them forever, there is an app for iPad and iPhones and you can even watch the class offline. You will get your list of materials and patterns needed for the class to download and then you are ready to go. You should note that Craftsy is US based so their patterns will be in US terms.

First, I really liked the quality of Craftsy classes. Videos are in good quality, you can slow them down, make notes on the video, ask questions to the instructor, join discussions and share your projects. If I had an iPad I would find the app very useful, wouldn’t really watch the videos on my phone but maybe some of you would like that.

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The class was Fair Isle Crochet by Karen Whoolie and covered the following: introduction to fair isle crochet, reading charts and working fair isle crochet. After this you are talked through 3 patterns using this technique: a shawl, a trivet and a hat.

The first three lessons teach you about this technique and how to work it, and I learned some really good things such as how to keep your designs from leaning, how to get nice floats, what type of stitch is good to use for fair isle, how to change colours and I specially loved the way she weaves in ends, which applies to any crochet project and not just fair isle. The instructor is very clear in her explanations and I think someone that has never done fair isle before could follow it with no problem.

The only thing I didn’t like is her way of getting a reversible fair isle fabric with clean colour changes and no leaning of the design. I was quite excited to learn how she would achieve this because it is something I have always wondered and only have been able to do it in the round. If you are working flat once you turn your work around the designs look a bit distorted unless they are big shapes, anything more intricate gets a bit lost. She does achieve this but her method is so painfully slow and it leaves a million ends to weave in so I was a bit disappointed. It is fine for a trivet and she does explain how to make it easier to hide the ends but I just wouldn’t use her technique in a project because I would get bored very quickly. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the first three lessons to apply them for projects in the round.

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Finally there were the projects. Of course not everyone is going to like all the patterns but they each teach you a bit more about how to work fair isle. The only one I would do for myself would be the hat, but I still enjoyed seeing the lessons for the other projects and seeing the technique in action.

Overall, I recommend this class to anyone interested in learning fair isle crochet, if you already know the basic technique then maybe you should see if you like the patterns and decide if it’s worth it for you. The class costs £25 full price but to be honest I wouldn’t have bought it at that price. They do sales VERY often and got mine at £9.50 which is very reasonable for the content and three patterns. 

Hope that was useful 😉 I just started another class on Craftsy about tunisian crochet so stay tuned because this time I am going to share my learning experience with you guys step by step… more soon!

x

Sol