How to Change Colors in Crochet

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One of the things that causes problems for crocheters learning to work with different colors is how to change colors in crochet. It’s not difficult but the yarn management is a little different depending on where in the piece you are changing colors and how colors change across a row.

Changing Colors at the End of a Row

The most basic method of changing colors in crochet happens when you’re working stripes. You’ve worked to the end of a section in one color and want to add in the new color.

The best way to do this is to work your last row in the first color up to the last stitch. Work the last stitch as usual, except you will want to start working with the new color for the last part of the last stitch.

For example if you’re working double crochet, on the last stitch, do your yarn over, pull up a loop, yarn over, pull through two loops in the first color. Drape your new color over the hook, leaving a long tail to weave in later (this serves as your yarn over) and then pull through the two remaining loops of the old color. For single crochet, you would do the yarn over, pull up a loop, then change colors to finish the stitch.

Begin the next row as usual, working with the new color.

This little change makes the color change look better in your project.

Change Colors in Crochet in the Middle of a Row

There are a couple of different ways in which you might need to work with more than one color in a row. When you’re first starting a new color, it works the same anywhere in the row as it would at the end: just work the last part of the last stitch that should read as the first color in the second color, and then work as many stitches as you need to in the next color.

If you are going to work with your first color again in the same row, you have two options, what we’d call stranded or intarsia in knitting.

Stranded means you would carry along the original color as you go, essentially moving it along the row to where you need to use it again. In knitting you just strand it along the back (thus the name) but in crochet you can catch the strand under the stitch you’re working to carry it along. You can see where I’ve carried the pink yarn above the first row of red in the photo.

This isn’t completely invisible but also isn’t super noticeable, especially over short distances. You’ll have to decide for yourself what counts as a short distance. For me, it’s five or six stitches.

If the section between color changes is longer than whatever your definition of “too long” is, you’ll need to use the second method, which involves joining in a new ball of yarn where you start working the first color again. This gives you cleaner lines but more ends to weave in.

Working in Different Directions

I was recently working on a project where the edges of each color shifted from row to row, meaning sometimes I would need to carry the yarn in different ways in order to use the same ball.

For instance I might need the new color a few stitches earlier in the next row, so I would need to strand the yarn as if I were carrying it below the stitches, but the stitches aren’t there yet. You have to make sure this is loose enough that you can easily reach where you need to stitch, but not so loose it will show a lot when you do stitch over it.

Then you just make the stitches over that strand just like you would if you were working in the other direction.

Of course I could also have started a new ball of yarn instead of carrying the yarn under stitches that didn’t exist yet, but again, it’s about finding out what works for you when you need to change colors in crochet and what looks best to you.

It’s also worth noting that color changes that look super obvious to you as the person who made the project will probably not be noticed at all by the average person, unless your stitches pull in or are super loose where you make those changes. Focusing on stitching evenly is a lot more important than the particular technique you use to change colors.

Do you have any color changing crochet tips? I’d love to hear them!

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