What’s the Best Stitch for Tapestry Crochet?
From single crochet to treble crochet, tapestry crochet projects can be made with a whole range of different stitches. But what are the differences between these stitches? And how do you know which is the best stitch to use?
This post explains the key differences between different stitches in tapestry crochet, and how to select the best stitch for your project.
What is Tapestry Crochet?
Tapestry crochet is a colourwork technique. It involves using two or more different coloured yarns. Different stitches are made with different colours to create a pattern. The unused yarn or yarns are carried along under the stitches as you go, so that they are ready when needed again.
For a more detailed explanation of what tapestry crochet is and how to do it, check out this Step-By-Step Guide to Tapestry Crochet.
What should I consider when choosing a stitch for tapestry crochet?
Tapestry crochet can be worked with stitches ranging from single crochet up to treble crochet and possibly even beyond. However, each stitch will give a different feel or thickness to the crocheted fabric. It will also result in a slightly different appearance. It’s important to consider both of these factors when selecting a stitch for a tapestry crochet project.
Thickness and drape
Generally, the smaller or shorter the stitch, the thicker and stiffer the resulting crocheted fabric will be.
For some projects, such as purses, bags and pot holders, you will probably want quite a dense fabric with few gaps in it. For these kinds of projects, using the single or extended single crochet stitches can be a good choice. These stitches are short and, especially with tapestry crochet, can product a thick, dense and relatively stiff fabric.
On the other hand, if you’re making a project such as a blanket, you may not want it to be too stiff, preferring it to have more of a drape. For these kinds of projects, a slightly taller stitch such as a half double or double crochet can work really well.
However, you should also take into consideration the yarn you will be using. If it is quite a thin yarn (4 ply, for example), then you may still be able to use a fairly short stitch like the extended single crochet stitch without making the fabric too thick or stiff.
Garments like sweaters and accessories such as shawls can also benefit from not being too thick or stiff so that they have a nice drape. For these kinds of items, consider using either taller stitches (such as double crochet) or a thinner yarn, or both.
The colourwork pattern
It’s also really important to consider the actual colourwork pattern that you are trying to create with your stitches.
You can think of colourwork patterns as being made of pixels where, in most cases, one stitch creates one pixel.
Smaller stitches such as single crochet produce a “pixel” which is like a small square. However, the taller the stitch, the more the pixel becomes rectangular in shape. This can then of course affect the types of colourwork patterns that you can create with the stitch.
Different stitches also line up slightly differently and this can vary depending on whether you’re working in rounds or rows (see below for more on this!).
They also have slightly different shapes, interlocking with adjacent stitches in different ways.
All of this affects how a colourwork pattern will appear when worked in a particular stitch and should be taken into account when selecting a stitch for your colourwork design.
Working in the round or in rows
Crochet stitches are not symmetrical – they have a directionality to them. When crochet stitches are worked in rounds, they are all made in the same direction. However, when they are worked in rows, the rows are worked in alternating directions.
This means that stitches look different when worked in rows to when worked in rounds. This difference is even more apparent when doing tapestry crochet because it is accentuated by the colour changes.
When swatching, you should take into account whether your final project will be worked in rows or rounds. Make your swatch in the same way so that you can see how your colourwork pattern will really look in the final item.
What’s the best stitch for tapestry crochet?
Here’s an overview of using different stitches in tapestry crochet:
Single crochet produces a dense fabric with few gaps. It also provides a small square pixel for creating colourwork patterns. This can be great for intricate designs. However, when worked in rounds the stitches do not line up exactly. This produces a slant in the resulting colourwork pattern.
extended single crochet
Extended single crochet can also be used to produce a relatively dense fabric (albeit slightly thinner than single crochet). However, its extra height can give it more drape than using just single crochet. Also, the stitches line up better vertically, so you do not get a slant in any colourwork pattern worked in rounds.
half double crochet
Half double crochet is a good “middle ground” stitch as it provides a short rectangular pixel but has good drape and is not too dense. When worked in rows, it can result in a slightly “ribbed” effect.
Double crochet is a great choice for projects which require a flexible fabric with good drape. However, its tall rectangular shape can limit the types of colourwork patterns you can create with it.
Have a look at the pictures on this page to see how various stitches appear in tapestry crochet. The caption beneath each photo explains whether the stitches are worked in rounds or rows.
Tapestry crochet with special stitches
There are also many ways in which you can create different effects by using some slightly less standard stitches in tapestry crochet. Here are a few examples:
dc2tog + 2dc in same stitch
If you want to break free from the pixel grid dictated by using plain dc (or any other) stitch, consider using dc2tog in some stitches, preceded or followed by 2dc in the same stitch.
Using these stitches can give a much smoother (or less pixelated) outline to your colourwork pattern.
Back loop only
Working your stitches in the back loop only can give the colourwork pattern a slightly cleaner or more regular look. However, it also results in a slight rib along the top of each stitch.
Waistcoat stitch is a variation on single crochet, where each stitch is made in the “V” of the stitch below. This can give a lovely knit or “fair isle” look to tapestry crochet colourwork projects.
What’s the best stitch for tapestry crochet? Answered!
As you’ll appreciate from this post, there is a lot to think about when choosing a stitch for a tapestry crochet project.
You should consider:
- the yarn you want to use,
- the colourwork pattern you’d like to create,
- whether the project will be constructed in rows or in rounds, and
- how dense or stiff you’d like the final fabric to be.
Once you’ve considered all these point, the comments above will give you some good ideas as to what might be a good stitch to try. For example, if you want a dense stiff fabric, use a shorter stitch. If you want a more flexible fabric, use a taller stitch.
However, you also have to take into account the colourwork pattern you want to create. In order to know how a particular stitch will work out, the only real way to find out is to swatch.
Sketch out your colourwork design on some squared paper and then see how it works up using different stitches. Then, you’ll be able to find the best stitch for your tapestry crochet project.
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