Editor’s Inspiration: colourwork
Until fairly recently, complex colourwork has been the province of knitters – think fair isle, intarsia and mosaic knitting – but stranded crochet and tapestry work are lighting up blocks of crochet everywhere!
I love learning new stitches! The crochet community’s appetite for learning is voracious, and we love anything new – we’re the magpies of the crafting world, flocking to anything bright and shiny that we haven’t seen before. CALs (crochet alongs) are hugely popular for precisely this reason – an opportunity to learn new techniques and construction ideas with a group of like-minded crafters.
Crochet is all about colour – we work stripes flat or in rounds – granny motifs are built of colour changes, and part of the fun of crochet projects is designing your own particular colour scheme, so what do I mean by colourwork? I mean using yarn to paint pictures.
Intarsia crochet is where a picture or motif is crocheted into a block of solid colour background, using one or several different colours. The threads are picked up from floats of yarn at the back of the work, and carried along throughout the motif. This means that on the right side of the work, the picture shows neatly, and on the back, you can see the threads and ends from where you’ve picked up and dropped different colours. Ends can be woven in afterwards, but because this technique is generally one-sided, it’s best used for cushion covers, or bags, or small blankets where there will be a fabric backing, or the wrong side hidden away.
Intarsia motifs are worked using a chart – one square of the chart equals one stitch. Stitches are worked back and forth, from the bottom of the chart to the top, from right to left on the right side, and left to right on the wrong side. It sounds more complex than it actually is – once you get started, you’re just working your usual stitches and switching threads as you go!
This chart shows a block of 20 rows and 17 stitches across: to work it, you begin at the bottom right hand corner of the chart, and work four rows of Colour A. When you reach row five, which is a right side row, you will work three stitches in Colour A, then switch to Colour B and work 11 stitches, and then switch back to Colour A for the remaining three stitches.
Little Doolally has a photo tutorial that shows you how to change colour, and what the work looks like on both sides. Click here to read more…
This sweet little gift bag is a free pattern from Little Doolally, and it’s an ideal first project to try intarsia!
The tapestry crochet technique is ideal if you want to make a double sided fabric, but you’re restricted in the number of colours you can use, because you’re going to carry the different colour yarns along with you, buried within the stitches of your background colour.
This super video tutorial from HappyBerry Crochet shows you how to carry the yarn along and switch colours neatly in creating a little heart motif.
Take a look at Julie Harrison’s Big Heart Blanket! Squares worked in tapestry crochet with heart motifs, are then joined together to make a blanket – absolutely fantastic. The heart is a simple chart to follow, and your crochet is neatly portable. Tapestry crochet is a fabulous option for blankets because both sides are equally neat.
For a fun first project, follow our fabulous Crochet Club tutorial from Kate Eastwood to make a super shopper with tapestry crochet heart!