Crochet Techniques: COLORWORK

Candy Cane Hooks from Twinkie Chan
The other day I had a random crochet lightening bolt. Usually I get inspired with a new design or color scheme, but this time it was a little different. I had an idea to do a blog series on different crochet techniques that I've learned or taught myself along the way. If you're new to crocheting, hopefully this will help advance your skills and give you the confidence to try new patterns that you may have been shying away from. If you've been crocheting for a while, I'll have advanced tips to push you even farther!

Keep in mind this is how I do things. I've developed my techniques over 5 years, but not every crocheter or designer does things the same way. Since I mostly make hats, that's what I'm going to focus on. Some of the techniques will be a little different when crocheting a flat piece. Today it's all about COLOR! It's one of my favorite things! 

Changing Colors at the end of a Round:
The first thing you should master is how to change colors at the end of a round. There are a few different ways I do this, depending on the pattern. The main goal is to conceal your seam, so you don't have an ugly line running up the back of your hat. 
For a simple beanie (using any st: sc, hdc, dc...) like the one above and most of my patterns: 
With "old" color work last stitch to the last two loops on your hook. YO with new color & pull through. JOIN with new color.

Several of my patterns follow different rules though, but I always let you know if it's different. It's SO important to read the notes in any pattern. A good designer will let you know how to get the best results possible.

Jogless Stripes Tutorial:
Next up, I want to let you know about NeedleNoodle's tutorial on Jogless Crochet Stripes. It's basically my favorite tutorial out there. She uses her method to make amigurumi (those cute little crochet animals) but I've used it in my sc hats, and Playin' Hooky Discs. So go check it out!

Color Charts:
The next trick to master is crocheting patterns or pictures using a graph. Most crochet (and knit) graphs are laid out on a square grid, like graph paper, and crocheted with sc's. But if you've ever crocheted anything completely in sc's, you'll notice that the sts don't line up directly on top of each other. They slant! I had a lot of trouble with this when I was attempting to make a Canadian Maple Leaf Beanie. I started out with this grid and got something that looked more like a spaceship with lobster claws.
Then a crochet friend of mine, Benjamin Krudwig clued me into a little trick. Why not use a hexagonal grid to lay out your design? Such a simple idea, but it really changed the way I thought about tapestry crochet! Here's what happened:
It actually looked like a maple leaf! I Googled "Hexagonal grid", printed one out and played with the design until I was happy with it. It's also what I use for my Old School Beanie. This is the exact same pattern using a square grid (left) and a hexagonal grid (right):
Remember, when working any type of complex colorwork, finish the last st of your "old" color to the last two loops on your hook. Then YO with your new color and pull through to finish the st. Continue working with your new color until you need to change again!

That's all for this time. There's always more to learn though so feel free to leave your tips or ideas in the comments for everyone to see!

You can try these tricks out with pretty much any of my patterns, so check out my store and get inspired!!!