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I just read an article about Laurinda Reddig’s book “Reversible Color Crochet” has me itching to do some colorwork. I’ll be taking her class on this technique at the Knit and Crochet Show in July, and I can’t wait!
Intarsia is just one (very fun!) type of crochet colorwork. Do you know the other types?
This is the first kind of colorwork most people learn. Each entire row or round is worked in one color, and color changes happen at the beginning of a new row or round. My Round the Mullberry Bush and Striped Booties patterns use stripes in their simplest form. Stripes are easiest when done in rows. When worked in rounds, the color changes can look a bit messy if you’re not careful. There are several techniques such as invisible joins and standing stitches that can help create cleaner, crisper stripes.
Stripes can be much more than just straight lines too – in my Criss Cross Applesauce and A Little Twisted squares, I combined stripes with post stitches so that some stripes dip down and overlap the previous one for a bit of added dimension.
This is the technique most people think of when they think of crocheted colorwork. Intarsia (in both knitting and crochet) is done by working each color section with a different ball or bobbin of yarn. If you’ve ever done a graphgan, that was probably intarsia. My Poinsettia Bottle Cozy uses this technique as well.
With intarsia, one color is rarely carried behind another, unless it’s just for a stitch or two. As you work each row, you switch yarns every time you come to a new color section. Depending on how complicated your pattern is, you could be working with 4 or 5, or even dozens of separate balls or bobbins or yarn at one time, which can make this a more difficult technique. The key is clean, crisp transitions between colors. It can be quite a mess if you do your color changes badly! If you do it carefully, you can hide all those color changes and create a truly reversible piece. That’s what “Laurinda’s Book” is all about.
Unlike intarsia, tapestry crochet is done by carrying all the colors along with you the whole time, and working each stitch in the appropriate color. This is similar to the way fair isle knitting is done, except the carried yarns are encapsulated within the stitches rather than “floating” behind them. Because you’re carrying the yarn, there’s a limit to how many colors you can use before it starts to look bad. Most tapestry crochet is done with only 2 or 3 colors at a time. It’s also often done in the round, so that all the stitches are worked in the same direction. I haven’t worked a lot with this technique, and I think it’s the one I want to try next. This Swirls Tapestry Crochet Shoulder Bag pattern by Rebeckah’s Treasures is an absolutely gorgeous example.
Working with 2 active loops at the same time:
I don’t actually know if there’s a formal name for this, but it’s much easier than it sounds! It’s a way of using 2 colors in the same row, but working them one at a time. First you work across the row in one color, leaving chain spaces where the 2nd color will go. Then you drop the active loop of the first color, go back to the beginning of your row or round, and work across again in the 2nd color. With the 2nd color, you work over the chains of the first color, filling in those spaces that were left and covering up the chains. I used this technique for the heart detail in my For Emily poncho. Another fantastic example of this technique is the Moroccan Tile Stitch by Moogly, which is actually where I first learned it.
Interlocking / Intermeshing crochet:
This is very similar to the above technique, in that each row is worked twice, once with each color. The main difference is that the stitches are usually worked behind or in front of the chains, rather than over them. This is usually done with a simple filet crochet stitch, and the technique is sometimes called double filet crochet. The overall effect is of weaving two layers together as you go, and it generally creates a reversible fabric. I have not done this myself yet but it looks fascinating. The Underground Crafter did an entire series on this technique last year. Here’s a round up / summary of her posts on the subject. I believe she’s going to be hosting the next CGOA CAL, with a pattern that uses this technique (but that’s still a secret, so you didn’t hear it here!)
I’m sure there are other colorwork crochet techniques as well – do you know of any that I’ve forgotten here?
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