A step-by-step guide to tapestry crochet

Tapestry crochet is a wonderful technique for creating unique and beautiful colourwork patterns in crochet. Unlike some other colourwork techniques, it has the advantage that there are no “floats” at the back of the work and, especially when worked in rows, the front and back of the work look the same.

Read on to find out how it’s done and you could be creating your own wonderful tapestry crochet projects today!

What’s in this tapestry crochet tutorial?

In this tapestry crochet tutorial, I will take you through the tapestry crochet technique, step by step, with photographs and explanation showing you exactly what to do at each stage. This post contains all you need to be able to go away and actually do some tapestry crochet yourself.

If you’d like to also watch a video demonstration of the tapestry crochet technique, check out my YouTube tutorial explaining how to do tapestry crochet, which covers everything I mention below in a video.

What is tapestry crochet?

Tapestry crochet is a way of crocheting with two or more different coloured yarns at the same time, carrying the unused yarn(s) along as you go, and switching to a different colour whenever specified by the pattern. It can be used to produce some really beautiful and original designs.

Before you start – what hook size to use?

One of the most important things for getting a good result with tapestry crochet is selecting the right hook size for your yarn. Tapestry crochet works best when the stitches are slightly tighter than usual. This helps to ensure that the unused yarn is covered by the used yarn. Because of this, I always suggest going down a hook size from the usual or recommended hook size for your chosen yarn.

For example, for a DK yarn, I would suggest using a 3.5 or 4 mm hook. For an aran yarn, I would suggest using a 4.5 mm hook.

Of course, everyone crochets slightly differently, so you may wish to make some test samples with a couple of different hook sizes, to make sure that you are happy with the the result before you start work on a particular project.

Two key skills for tapestry crochet

There are two key skills to learn in order to do tapestry crochet. The first is how to change colour. The second is how to crochet over the unused yarn. Neither of these is particularly difficult and once you have mastered them you will be set!

How to change colour

The following explanation applies to doing tapestry crochet with tr (US dc) stitches. However, the same principle applies whichever stitches you are using.

When instructed to in your pattern, join a new colour or change your yarn from yarn A to yarn B by making the last tr stitch with yarn A as follows:

  1. With yarn A, yoh (yarn over hook), insert hook into work, yoh and pull through work (3 loops of yarn A on hook).

2. Still with yarn A, yoh and pull through two loops on hook (2 loops of yarn A on hook).

3. Drop yarn A, pick up yarn B.  Yoh and pull through two loops on hook (1 loop of yarn B on hook).

You’re then ready to make the next stitch with yarn B.

If you’re doing a stitch other than tr (UK) or dc (US), simply use the same approach to pull the new yarn through on the final pull through of the previous stitch, so that it is ready on your hook to make the next stitch in the new colour.

How to crochet over the unused yarn

When you pick up the second yarn (yarn B) to start crocheting with it, do not cut or fasten off the first yarn.  Keep both yarns going as you crochet, making your tr stitches over the unused yarn to cover it and carry it along as you go.

Arrange your work so that the unused yarn lies along the tops of the stitches from the previous row.

A final tip

When you pick up a yarn to start crocheting with it again, give the yarn you have just picked up a gentle tug to ensure that it fits snuggly (but not too tightly) through the stitches you have just made and does not bulge out.  This will help to ensure that the unused yarn is covered by the used yarn. 

And away you go!

Have a play around with a couple of yarns and see what patterns you can create. It’s a great idea to have some squared paper to hand to sketch our your ideas first.

If you’d like to try a tapestry crochet pattern, my Cara Blanket is a great one to choose if you are new to the technique. It works up really fast and has just a small (but very pretty!) band of tapestry crochet.

Alternatively, check out my pattern page or these posts for even more tapestry crochet inspiration:

Finessing your tapestry crochet technique

Once you’ve mastered the basic technique, as described above, check out these posts to take your tapestry crochet to next level:

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