Saturday, March 12, 2016

Tri-Color Work in Tunisian Crochet

So we're all starting to work up our cowls in the current Cowl-o-Rama (and there's still plenty of time to join us!). Some of us are working up Etched Ice cowls, one participant has already completed a La Coeur Cowl (it really is a quick crochet), and a few participants are working on a few different three-color tunisian crochet cowl designs of mine. Since this is a form of colorwork I really enjoy, I thought I'd provide here a form of the visual tutorial I wrote for to coincide with their publishing the Mixed Bag Cowl design last year.

Working with color in design, or art, or when crafting is universally appealing – just look at the explosion of long color run yarns like Noro. This is an area where a multi-disciplinary approach really comes in handy: my painting experience has taught me colors come alive and reveal personality only in context with other colors. As on the painting canvas, so too in creating crochet fabric - there is something infinitely satisfying about watching colors take form and reveal themselves in context in a crochet project.

While there are several ways to inject color when crocheting, one of the easiest ways is to work with multiple colors at once. In tunisian crochet (and the same technique can be applied when crocheting with a traditional short hook), the principle behind using three different yarns at once is quite simple: work an entire row in yarn A, switch to yarn B at the end of the row without fastening off the first color, work the next row in yarn B through the end, attach yarn C without fastening off yarn B and work the next row in yarn C. At the end of each subsequent row, drop the yarn you’re currently using and pick up the next yarn that’s waiting.  You’ll carry the yarns neatly up each side of the work without fastening off, so there’s no pesky yarn tails to weave into your newly created colorful crochet fabric. Additionally, working with three yarn colors at once is a great way to use up stash in intriguing and fresh ways. Don’t be afraid to try different color combinations or, even, of using different yarn weights in the same project.  

A note: this tutorial assumes the crocheter has knowledge of tunisian crochet utilizing one color. The tutorial picks up at the backward pass of the initial row in tunisian crochet:

1.  Work the backward pass of the pattern’s designated
row in yarn A until there are two loops remaining 
on the hook.

2.  Drop yarn A without fastening off and attach 
yarn B by making a loop over the hook with it 
and complete the row.

3.  Work the forward pass of the next row with yarn B 
through completion of the last stitch. 

4.   Drop yarn B without fastening off and attach yarn C 
by looping it over the hook and work the backward pass 
until there are two loops remaining on the hook.

5.  At this point you will have three different yarns live 
in the back of your work – the one you’re currently 
using and one at each end of the work.

6.  From this point on, you’ll change yarns at the end 
of any pass by dropping the yarn you’re using and 
picking up the yarn that’s waiting. It’s that simple. 
While not a requirement, when changing yarns at
either end of a row I like to ensure that the new 
working yarn is beneath the yarn being dropped. 
In this way, the dropped yarn gets carried up the 
side of the work in a neat manner.

7.   Here is how the back of the fabric looks. 
Notice how the yarn is neatly carried up along 
each side of the fabric. Since this cowl will be 
seamed prior to the addition of edgings 
worked in the round, these sides will 
become hidden from view.

I hope this gives you inspiration to stash dive and make a cowl with three colors - of course, right along with us in the Cowl-o-Rama!


  1. Nice tutorial! Saw your book in the wild (lys) and bought it! Love it!!!

  2. As, thanks so much for the kind words! I am pleased you are enjoying it.