Whether you're looking to become a more advanced crocheter or want to expand the scope of your current projects, this guide is here to help. Colorwork is one of the most satisfying and visually appealing parts about creating stunning crochet pieces. But it's not always something that can be learned from books alone; sometimes you need to learn from others.
The first thing you should consider when working with colored crochet is what colors will look the most appealing. While it's important not to get too hung up on this, as it is ultimately the design that matters most, you should still try to choose colors that work with and enhance one another. Usually this means using a primary color and then mixing it with shades of that same color, or if you're feeling particularly adventurous, creating your own custom shade of yarn from scratch. This is, however, not always the case; in fact, it is not uncommon for colorwork designs to be worked using two or more colors that contrast one another. For instance, a classic example would be combining white and black yarn. If you want to try your hand at this sort of thing, it's best to have some knowledge of the basic techniques that will allow you to begin playing with color.
When working with two colors of yarn that contrast one another, there are a number of different ways to approach the project. You can alternate between the two colors evenly, or change them out at random intervals. If you're mixing multiple shades of a primary color, it's very common to use this sort of intermittent technique to create contrast amongst the different shades. But these are only a few of the techniques you can use – there are in fact nearly endless possibilities for mixing colors and patterns, with each pattern displaying varying degrees of difficulty and results. Here are just some of the basic concepts that you'll want to know if you're interested in working with more than one color:
Be aware of where your patterns overlap
When working with different color schemes, you will often have to scrap one pattern and start a new one at the point where two colors meet. This is due to the fact that most yarns are not 100% long enough to complete any given pattern without having to take up more yarn from another source. It is also important to know that not all colors will mix and blend well, so when beginning a new color it's best to switch over at the end of a row where yarn for both colors have already been secured. If this isn't an option, then you can simply cut the yarn from one color and start anew with the other.
One of the biggest problems that beginner colorwork artists run into is getting their yarn tangled. This can be especially problematic when you're working with multiple colors, as it's hard to undo a single knot when there are several involved. To avoid this, be sure to take up each ball individually, and then begin crocheting as soon as possible. If you have a difficult time keeping your colorwork yarn separated, try using different colors for the two strands to avoid confusion later on in the project.
Another problem that often occurs to beginning colorwork artists is getting their stitches to match up properly with one another while crocheting from pattern to pattern. The best way to avoid this is to use another piece of scrap yarn in the same color as your project and carry it up and around the stitches as you work them. Once done, switch back to using your original yarn, then snip off the scrap at the end of a row or round. When beginning a new row, just take up the appropriate color and crochet from there.
Consider having someone else help you
If you're working on a large, complicated-looking project then it can be helpful to have someone there to guide you through it in case you get confused or lose your place in the pattern. Usually this is done by providing them with a printed copy of the pattern that they can follow along with you as you work on the project.
Use stitch markers whenever possible:
It's often hard to remember to do this, but if there are any important repeat sequences in a given piece then it is best to place stitch markers at each of these points so that you don't accidentally miss one out while working.
Pay attention to the gauge
While it is possible to make adjustments when crocheting colorwork projects, your best bet is always going to be following a pattern that has been created with your gauge in mind. If you are unsure of how this might affect things, then you can normally just substitute a larger hook for the one recommended in the pattern and see how it goes. If the gauge still isn't right, then you can try again using a smaller hook, or alternately if you're already using a larger hook you could try adding more stitches to your project to make it longer and wider overall.
Be realistic about expectations
It's important to remember that all crochet, regardless of the patterns that are used for it, is going to have some kind of imperfections. When working with colorwork, you're often adding more dimensions to this issue and it can help if you have realistic expectations about what your finished product should look like in those areas where it will be more noticeable.
Don't give up!
As with most things in life, your work will improve the more that you practice it. The trick to making colorwork easier is simply to keep going and don't get discouraged if you feel like you're having trouble with it. It might take a while before you get used to crocheting in this manner, but as long as you can set aside a few minutes every day to work on it then you'll usually find that it starts to get easier overall.
Use baby yarn if you have a problem with tension
If the projects that you're trying out seem too difficult or just aren't looking right, then it might be helpful if you switched over to using yarn meant for baby blankets instead. This is because the yarn used for baby blankets is typically thinner than most other types of yarn, and this can make it easier to work with if you find that your tension is too tight. Just remember not to confuse it with worsted weight yarn!
Be more careful when crocheting in the round
The biggest challenge for most people when it comes to colorwork is working in the round, and this can make it hard for them to get the stitches right. To fix this issue you might want to try crocheting a test swatch using some of your yarn (or any other suitable scrap yarn) and work through even just one or two rounds on it so that you see what it should look like. When you have done this then you can use the finished sample to make sure that your work on the actual piece is being done properly and consistently.
Seek assistance if possible
If all else fails then you can always contact someone who does this regularly for their advice, or even just to get some help in using a given pattern.
Above all, enjoy yourself! Some people find that the best way to get used to doing colorwork is to take their time and simply enjoy every step of it. The more relaxed you are when working on your projects, the better you'll usually do with them in general.