What’s the difference between tapestry and mosaic crochet?

What’s the difference between tapestry and mosaic crochet?

People often ask what’s the difference between tapestry and mosaic crochet. Sometimes, these terms are used interchangeably and, even if people do know that there’s a difference, they are not always sure exactly what that difference is.

Both tapestry and mosaic crochet are forms of colourwork crochet, where you use different coloured yarns to create a pattern. However, there are some important differences between the two techniques, which I will explain below.

starry spruce table runner mosaic crochet pattern
The Starry Spruce Table Runner – mosaic crochet
winter forest cushion tapestry crochet pattern
The Winter Forest Cushion Cover – tapestry crochet

Tapestry crochet

Tapestry crochet uses two or more different coloured yarns, all of which are brought along with you as you crochet so that any given stitch can be made with any of those yarns.

The yarns are carried along by crocheting over them as you go, so that they are not loose on either side of your work (there are no floats). This means that the tapestry crochet pattern is visible on both sides of your work.

You then simply pick up the yarn you want to make a stitch with in the last step of the previous stitch so that it is ready on your hook to make the next stitch.

geo georgie blanket tapestry crochet pattern
Making a Geo Georgie Blanket with tapestry crochet

For more details about exactly how to do tapestry crochet, check out this step-by-step guide to tapestry crochet.

Mosaic crochet

In mosaic crochet, a single yarn is used for any given round or row. You make different stitches depending on whether or not you want that yarn to stay visible for that stitch eventually. In the next row or round, when another colour yarn is used, you can “fill in” or crochet in front of some stitches in a previous row to “change” them to the new colour.

For stitches that are just for a current row, single crochet stitches are used (UK double crochet). For stitches that are also “filling in” stitches from a previous row, double crochet stitches are used (UK treble crochet) into the relevant stitch from two rows before, thereby covering up the stitch from the row below.

In some versions of mosaic crochet, the front and back loops of the previous row are used depending on whether or not you want a particular stitch to stay visible. If you want a stitch to stay visible, you make it in the front loop. If you want a stitch to be “filled in” or covered with a different yarn colour later, then you make it in the back loop so that another stitch can then be made in front of it, in the unused front loop.

In other versions, if you want a stitch to stay visible then you make it through both loops of the previous stitch. However, if you want to skip a stitch with a certain colour yarn, chains are made to skip that stitch, and then they are crocheted in front of with a different yarn colour in a later row.

mosaic crochet sample
Mosaic crochet

Because of the nature of mosaic crochet, it is great for geometric patterns. However, it does result in a “one-sided” item, i.e. the pattern you create on the front will not be visible from the back.

Also, some (but not all!) versions of mosaic crochet can involve cutting your yarn at the end of each row, which can result in a lot of ends to deal with.

What’s the difference between tapestry and mosaic crochet? Answered!

Both tapestry and mosaic crochet use different coloured yarns to produce striking patterns. They can both be worked either in the round or in rows. Both techniques can be used to produce beautiful blankets, cushions, garments, accessories and many different kinds of home decor items.

Instructions for tapestry and mosaic crochet designs can be either in written form, or in the form of a chart. Often, both kinds of instructions are provided. However, tapestry and mosaic charts are read in different ways.

Tapestry and mosaic crochet result in items with their own unique style or appearance. For some one who has experience with both techniques, it can be easy to identify by eye which technique has been used.

The key differences between tapestry and mosaic crochet are summarised below:

Tapestry crochetMosaic crochet
Uses multiple yarns at any given time, carried along until needed.Uses a single yarn at any given time.
Any number of different colours can be used for a given row or round.A maximum of two different colours can be used for a given row or round.
Creates a pattern by picking up the yarn you wish to use for a stitch at the end of the previous stitch so that it is ready on your hook for the next stitch.Creates a pattern by “skipping” some stitches (e.g. with chains or crocheting in the back loop) and then filling them in later with a longer stitch in a different colour yarn from a later row or round.
Any kind of stitch can be used, e.g. single, half double, double, treble (or double, half treble, treble, double treble, in UK terms) . However, usually, the same kind of stitch is used for a whole row or round so that the stitches are all the same height.Stitches are generally made using only single crochet and double crochet stitches (double and treble in UK terms).
The pattern is visible on both the front and the back. However, when an item is worked in rounds, there is a clear “front” side of the work.The pattern is only visible on the front.
A yarn is only cut when you finish working with that colour.In some versions of mosaic crochet, the yarn is cut at the end of each row.
Comparing mosaic and tapestry crochet

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