To make a neat colour change, keep an eye out in your crochet pattern or instructions for the approaching change. As you make the last stitch in the old colour, pause before the last step of that stitch. For the final ‘yarn over and draw through all loops on hook’, substitute the new yarn, so you draw the new yarn through your loops. This gives a cleaner edge to the colour change.
Left: last loop of previous stitch uses new colour; Right: first complete stitch in new colour
Need more details? For full illustrated step-by-step instructions, jump to:
You have several options for what to do with the yarn colour you aren’t currently using:
Carry the yarn along the top of the row you’re working into. This is known as tapestry crochet, and is an excellent technique to use if your pattern continually switches between two or more colours of yarn. However, it adds bulk to your stitches, so if you only use colour changes for a few rounds, and don’t carry the second yarn the rest of the time, the piece may end up looking bulkier around the area with the colour changes. Also, if you aren’t careful, the carried colour can show through between your stitches, particularly if you stuff your work firmly, which can stretch the stitches open slightly.
Left: The grey yarn is carried along the top of the row; Right: The row of shadowy areas (marked with arrow) are actually the grey yarn peeking through – notice that the ‘shadows’ only appear in that top row where I carried the grey yarn
Drop the yarn to the back (inside) of the work and pick it up again when it’s needed. This is a quick and easy method if you’re changing back again after one or two stitches, but leaves a long annoying span of yarn inside your work for any more than that. Note: it’s important to leave the right amount of yarn so the float (the loose length) will lie smoothly against the inner surface of the piece when it’s been stuffed (judging this becomes easier with practice!). If you pull the float too tightly, it’ll buckle your work, but if you leave it too loose, the stitches either side of the float can work loose and look untidy.
A view of the inside after several colour changes of several stitches each time (note that this is a demo piece only!). I don’t recommend leaving connected strands of yarn this long inside the piece; they can cause difficulties when you try to stuff your work.
Combination: drop the yarn and hold it with an occasional stitch. You can minimise the difficulties from the float by catching it on the back of the work (by crocheting over it) every few stitches, to keep it in place and reduce the length of the float. This is less visible than tapestry crochet and safer than leaving floats of 3 or more stitches.
Drop the yarn to the back (inside) of the work and cut it. Knot this end together with the loose end of the new yarn. This can be a bit time-consuming, but if you tie each pair together after you’ve crocheted a couple of stitches past the colour change, it’s not too much trouble. A tip: the knot is simply to prevent your stitches from working loose, so don’t pull the ends too tightly when knotting them together; the goal is to maintain the tension in the yarn so the stitches stay even.
The two ends knotted together inside the piece. Tie the knots as you go – it can be difficult to reach them once you’ve crocheted a few more rounds!
My preference is to use a combination of all these methods, depending on the pattern. I generally cut the yarn and tie the ends together to give a smooth neat finish, but if I’m just making one or two stitches in the second colour, I usually drop the yarn to the inside, or crochet over it, so I can resume using it a couple of stitches later. I also (almost) never carry a dark colour behind white, as the dark colour is very likely to show through the gaps between the white stitches.
My best advice is that, if in doubt, check your work as you go: push some stuffing against the stitches and see if the result looks satisfactory from the outside, and try a different method if you don’t like what you see! With practice, you’ll get a feel for where you can get away with using a faster method, and where only cutting and tying will do.
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Please note that I can only answer questions related to PlanetJune patterns and tutorials (see details), and I can only respond to questions or comments written in English. Thank you :) - June