Spring is in full swing and so it's only natural to crave color. If you are a lover of solids or have not yet found the perfect project for your color experiments, you might feel a little apprehensive delving into this big world of crochet colorwork. I'm here to tell you changing colors in crochet is probably the easiest skill you could acquire with the biggest payout.
The basics: How to change colors in crochet
When you come to the point in your work where you want to change colors, whether it is the end of a row/round or the middle of one, you need to work your last stitch with the main color to two loops on the hook. What this means is you do NOT complete the stitch with your main color; instead, when you have two loops left on your hook, you pick up the NEW color and finish the stitch with it. This would be with ANY stitch, single crochet, double or even triple. Work the stitch to two loops, then change colors.
To crochet over, or not to crochet over? That is the question.
Decide if you want to work over your unused color or carry it along the back (float). If you are going to work over it, you have to think about how the extra bulk will effect your gauge. You might consider working over the unused yarn from the very beginning, so your project gauge can be consistent.
When you are at the end of a row and changing colors, finish the last stitch with the new color so you can start the chains of the new row with the new color. Think about return rows when you are drafting your striped color patterns! It is ideal to leave the first color attached and pick it up when you come back to it, but that would require two rows of the next color or one row each of two colors. Single row stripes are lovely, if you don't mind weaving in ends every row.
Tame the beast
Avoid tangles or twists by always picking up the yarn the same way. If you pick up Color B by bring it over Color A, then always pick it up like that and pick up Color A the opposite way (in this case, from under). Keeping one ball of yarn on either side of you while you work will also help with this. There is no hope if you are working with more than two colors.....I KID! Just put the third color in front of you on a table or in a bag on the floor.
Consistency is key
I've mentioned keeping consistent gauge by working the project with the same thickness throughout (working over old colors versus floating the yarn), but I would also urge you to work with the same weight yarn throughout your project. I KNOW it can sometimes be hard to get all the colors you want with the same brand, so compare weights as best you can. Check out their yardages versus actual weight measurement and find yarns that are equal. It will make your project look more polished.
That isn't to say you can't switch things up every now and then! Have fun with it. Color is only one aspect of a project. Texture can give it a new interesting dimension.
If you are ready to learn more complex Fair Isle crochet, sign up for Karen Whooley's class, Fair Isle Crochet: Demystifying Colorwork. It includes seven amazing lessons, with more in-depth information, from starting Fair Isle projects, to working Fair Isle crochet in the round, and finishing your edges to conceal color changes. Our techniques to changing colors may differ slightly, but consider this just another trick to add to your crochet arsenal!