Tapestry crochet is actually a lot less complicated than it looks, particularly if you start off by making something simple — like this free coaster pattern — to get the hang of the color-changing technique.
I came up with this very simple tapestry crochet sun coaster pattern in rich jewel colors so that you can give it a go in just an hour.
What is tapestry crochet?
Before we get into the step-by-step tapestry crochet tutorial, let’s quickly review the technique and to know how it differs from standard crochet.
In tapestry crochet, you use two yarns at once, switching between the two colors to create complex stitch patterns. In fact, you can even work three or even four colors at the same time, if you want an even more detailed design.
Changing color in tapestry crochet
In tapestry crochet, you use one yarn as the working yarn while “carrying” the other along inside the stitches.
If you look at the sequence below, Yarn A is the working yarn at the start, and the stitches are worked over Yarn B.
To change color, insert your hook in the next stitch and under Yarn B. Yarn over with Yarn A and pull through, leaving three loops on the hook. Switch so that Yarn B becomes the working yarn and Yarn A is carried and crocheted over. Yarn over with Yarn B and pull through all three loops. You’ll now have Yarn B on your hook.
Carry on working in Yarn B and you will see that the color change point is neat and tidy.
Tapestry crochet sun coaster
To practice, try your hand at this simple coaster. Before you get started, consider making a small sample for practice. A simple hdc swatch with color changes in the middle of a row should do the trick. Once you are confident changing colors, you are ready to go!
What you’ll need:
- Yarn: Two small balls of yarn in contrasting colors, including a yellow or gold for the sun. You can use any yarn for practice, but a heavier weight yarn is best for a sturdy coaster. Bulky or worsted are ideal. A lighter yarn may require more rounds. I used Stylecraft Special Chunky, which is a bulky yarn.
- Crochet hook: A size or size and a half smaller than you would usually use for the yarn. I used a size F hook (4.5 mm) — I would normally use an H or an I.
- Scissors and darning needle.
Stitches to know:
The magic loop, chain stitch (ch), half double crochet (hdc), slip stitch (sl st).
The first two rounds of your circle form the center of your sun.
Make a magic loop (or 4 ch and join with a sl st). Ch 2 (do not count as a stitch) and then work 10 hdc into the ring. Close with a sl st.
Ch 2 (do not count as a stitch), then work 2 hdc into each stitch of the previous round. Close with a sl st. Your circle will have 20 hdc.
Its a good idea to sew in your first tail end at this point. You will be working hard managing two yarns — make life easier and ditch that extra tail!
Ch 2. Introduce your Yarn B: Hold it behind your circle, just below the next stitch you will work into. Position the tail end of the Yarn B off to the right.
Work a hdc into the same stitch. Make sure that the hook goes under Yarn B. Yarn A should still be your working yarn, so you’ll end up with three loops of Yarn A on your hook.
Your stitch is not yet complete, but at this point, you’ve trapped the second color yarn. The photos below show you what this should look like from the front and from the back of your work.
Now it’s time for some finger and hand acrobatics! Without losing the loops on your hook, adjust of the yarn in your left hand so that Yarn B becomes your working yarn and Yarn A becomes the yarn that is carried.
Yarn over with color B and pull through all three loops on your hook. This is tricky, so it’s normal for your stitch to look a bit elongated (see below right). Don’t worry about that — we’ll fix it very soon.
Your second hdc is complete! It’s a hybrid made mainly of Yarn A with the top loop in Yarn B.
Insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over with Yarn B and pull through so that you have three loops on your hook. Do not complete the stitch yet!
The next maneuver is small but crucial: Before complete the stitch, pull gently on Yarn A to correct the tension on that loose previous hdc.
Adjust your left hand again so that Yarn A becomes your working yarn. Yarn over and pull through all three loops on your hook. You now have another hybrid stitch that is mainly Yarn B with the top loop in Yarn A.
Carrying Yarn B, make a complete hdc using Yarn A only.
Work an incomplete hdc in Yarn A into the same stitch. Switch to make Yarn B as the working yarn, pull it gently to correct the tension and complete the stitch with Yarn B.
Using Yarn B, work an incomplete hdc into the next stitch, completing it with Yarn A. Progress will be very slow at first with so much to remember, but you should soon see your pattern starting to emerge.
Continue this round of the circle in the same way: 2 hdc in Yarn A into one stitch, then 1 hdc in Yarn B in the next stitch, completing the color changes as shown.
When you reach the last stitch, work an incomplete hdc in Yarn B so that you have three loops on your hook.
Using Yarn A, complete the stitch and close the round with a slip stitch. When you make the slip stitch, be sure to trap Yarn B — this makes a neater finish for the back of your coaster.
Hurrah! You have made a tapestry crochet circle! It is quite fiddly to start, but you will get into the swing of the color changes in no time. The good news is that the next round gets easier!
At this point, I sewed in my tail end for yarn B — it’s easier to hide it than to try working around it.
For the next round, work 2 hdc in one stitch, 1 hdc into the next two stitches, all the way around. You will continue doing 2 hdc increases in Yarn A and the stitches between in Yarn B.
Working with Yarn A, ch 2. Work an incomplete hdc into the same stitch. Switch to Yarn B to complete the hdc. Hdc in Yarn B in the next stitch. Work an incomplete hdc into the next stitch; finish it with Yarn A. Now with Yarn A, hdc into the next stitch with; work an incomplete hdc into the same stitch and finish it with Yarn B. Work the next 2 hdcs in Yarn B, completing the second one with color A.
Close the round with a sl st in Yarn A, trapping yarn B.
You can then complete one more round to finish your coast. Or, if you’d like a placemat, carry on and complete several more rounds.
For Round 5, you’ll have 3 hdc stitches in Yarn B between the 2 hdc increase in Yarn A.
After Round 5, work one sc into each stitch around in Yarn B without any increases. I made these stitches slightly looser so that the coaster had a slightly raised ridge.
The only thing left to do? Sew in the tails. Then go get a cup of coffee to put on your coaster — you’ve earned it!