Crocheting with two colors allows you to create beautiful patterns and textures in your projects. The most common way to crochet with two colors is by working them back and forth in rows or rounds. This technique, often called striping or stranded crochet, involves switching between two colors repeatedly to form stripes or other motifs.
To crochet two colors back and forth, you need to understand how to change colors cleanly between rows or rounds. The basic process is simple, but it takes some practice to master smooth color changes. In this article, we’ll walk through step-by-step how to crochet with two colors back and forth in rows for basic striping patterns.
What You Need
- Two balls or skeins of yarn in different colors (the same weight yarn).
- Crochet hook in the appropriate size for your yarn.
- Yarn needle.
Before beginning, wind both yarns into balls or cakes if they are not already in ball/cake form. This will prevent tangling and make it easier to crochet.
How to Change Colors
When crocheting back and forth in rows with two colors, you change colors at the end of each row. Here is the basic process:
- Work one row with Color A.
- At the end of the row, drop Color A and pick up Color B.
- Work one row with Color B.
- At the end of the row, drop Color B and pick up Color A.
- Repeat Steps 2-4, alternating colors every row.
The key things to remember when changing colors:
- Always pick up the new color from under the dropped color so there are no gaps between rows.
- Make sure you have the same number of stitches after changing colors to keep your edges straight.
- Do not tie knots with the new color or cut the dropped color – carry both yarns up the side as you work the rows.
Now let’s go through the full process step-by-step:
- Create a foundation chain in Color A. The chain should be a multiple of 2 plus 1 stitch (e.g. 21 sts, 41 sts, etc).
- Row 1 (RS): Work 1 row of single crochet into the 2nd chain from hook and each chain across in Color A.
- Row 2: At the end of Row 1, drop Color A, yarn over with Color B and pull through the last loop on the hook. This joins Color B.
- Row 2 (WS): Work 1 row of single crochet into each stitch across in Color B.
- Row 3: At the end of Row 2, drop Color B, yarn over with Color A and pull through the last loop on the hook. This joins Color A.
- Row 3: Work 1 row of single crochet into each stitch across in Color A.
- Repeat Rows 2-3, changing colors every row, until your project is the desired length.
Remember to carry both yarn colors up the side as you work. Do not cut the yarn between color changes. Simply drop one color and pick up the next.
When you finish crocheting the last row, cut both yarn colors leaving a 6 inch tail. Pull the tail through the last loop and tighten to secure.
Weave in all ends neatly on the wrong side using a yarn needle. Make sure to weave in the carried yarn strands as well.
Block your project if desired to even out the stitches.
Tips for Smooth Color Changes
It takes practice to crochet color changes cleanly. Here are some tips:
- Maintain even tension when switching colors.
- Make sure both yarns are the same thickness.
- Spread stitches out on the hook when changing colors to ensure the correct number.
- Pick up the new color from under the dropped color.
- Check stitch counts frequently.
With practice your color changes will become smooth and even. Don’t worry about mistakes – simply unravel and restart on that row if needed.
Once you have the basics down, there are many advanced colorwork techniques to try:
- Intarsia – Working in separate color blocks for motifs rather than continuous rows.
- Mosaic crochet – Alternating colors in creative ways to form geometric patterns.
- Tapestry crochet – Carrying unused colors loosely across the back to create images.
- Tunisian crochet – Using a special long hook to work two-color designs in rows.
Have fun playing around with different techniques to see what you can create!
Here are some great beginner patterns for practicing two color crochet:
This basic back-and-forth striped scarf is perfect for learning color changes. Use any two colors of worsted weight yarn.
Zig Zag Baby Blanket
Work this soft ripple pattern in pastel colors for a beautiful baby blanket.
Cozy Striped Hat
Switch colors every round for a warm, striped winter hat.
Here are some common issues and how to fix them:
Uneven tension when changing colors
- Make sure to maintain the same tension with both yarns.
- Spread out stitches more on the hook before changing colors.
- Check that the yarns are the same thickness.
Gaps between color changes
- Always pick up the new color from under the dropped color.
- Work into the top loops only for cleaner color changes.
Wrong number of stitches after changing colors
- Carefully count stitches after each color change.
- Unravel and restart the row if needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I cut the yarn when changing colors?
No, do not cut the yarn when changing colors back and forth in rows. Carry both strands up the side as you work. Only cut the yarn when binding off the project.
How do I choose what color to start with?
You can start with either color – just be consistent and always start with the same color when working back and forth in rows.
Can I work color changes in the round?
Yes, you change colors the same way at the end of rounds instead of rows when working in the round. Make sure to join rounds to avoid a spiral.
Crocheting with two colors opens up many creative possibilities. By mastering the technique of carrying colors across rows or rounds, you can easily add stripes, blocks, and other motifs to your projects. Remember to maintain even tension, join new colors cleanly, and check stitch counts when switching colors. With a little practice, you’ll be crocheting beautiful two-color patterns in no time!