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!!!



  1. so, you need me to buy something from your shop, and then you will send me a copy of the hexagonal grid and how to use it?

  2. My Old School Beanie uses a hexagonal grid, but you don't have to buy the pattern to play around with your own designs. It takes a little getting used to, and the best advice I can give you is to play with it until you can see where the stitches lie in your hat (or whatever) in relation to the grid. It's mostly a matter of training your eye.

  3. Just Google "blank hexagonal grid" to get started. :)

  4. Using a hexagonal grid is brilliant for tapestry crochet! Thanks for the tip!

  5. I love your hats! My most popular tapestry crochet papers that take into consideration stitch shape and placement are free online downloads at http://www.ravelry.com/stores/carol-ventura-designs and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TapestryCrochet/files/ , but you need to join the groups to have access.

    Carol Ventura

  6. When changing colors, do you cut and weave in ends.. or carry the other yarn through the work?

    1. I'm sorry, I knew there was something I was forgetting to write about. I carry the yarn through the work (I crochet over it) when I'm doing tapestry-type crochet. But if I'm doing stripes (like my Brain Waves, Ziggy, Strata...) I drop the yarn to the back of the work and pick it back up when I need it again. I hardly ever cut it in the middle of a hat!

  7. Excellent post! Especially with the bit about hexagonal grid... so important!

  8. First, I love those crochet hooks!! Second, great tip about adding the next color yarn. Makes a difference, thanks!