Tapestry Crochet: How to
Tapestry crochet is a totally achievable technique to try if you’re comfortable working a standard ‘single crochet’ stitch [US terminology]. In fact, if you’re comfortable working single crochets or any other basic crochet stitch such as double crochets, treble crochets etc, then you probably already have most of the knowledge you’ll need to work this technique – hurray!
Scroll to the end to try a Butterfly tapestry crochet sample project...
It’s a colour change technique that uses 2 or more colours whilst working any crochet stitch to create intricate, picture style designs. Working in 2 colours, you ‘carry’ the unused colour underneath your current stitches until it’s needed.
Tapestry crochet can be worked from written patterns, but is also easy to create from graphs/charts where each square on the chart is equal to one stitch, so make sure the number of stitches match the number of squares. Working from a chart opens up a whole realm of possibilities because cross stitch charts can be used as inspiration for the technique and there are endless charts available to try when you get the hang of it!
The most common form of tapestry crochet is worked in rows and you turn your work at the end of every row, alternating between the right and wrong sides. The trick is to keep the yarn tails of both colours to the wrong side of your work – so when you are working on the right side, your yarn tails will sit at the back but when you turn and work on the wrong side, you need to keep your yarn tail on the side closest to you [see photo 2]; this creates the neatest colour changes.
Written patterns will refer to each colour with a letter i.e colour ‘A’ or colour ‘B’ etc. When working in colour A, you will lay colour ‘B’ along the top of the stitches of the previous row [see photo 3]. Continue crocheting as normal with colour ‘A’ and over the top of colour ‘B’ so that colour ‘B’ is trapped within the stitches of colour ‘A’.
Tension in Tapestry crochet should be kept tight to avoid the carried yarn being visible through the stitches. You can size down in your chosen crochet hook to create a tighter stitch, for example instead of using a G-7/4.5mm hook with a DK/Light worsted weight yarn, consider using a G-6/4mm or E-4/3.5mm crochet hook. The smaller the better! 😊
After working a series of stitches in colour ‘A’, pull gently on the colour ‘B’ yarn to make sure no loose yarn is left that may be visible later, but be careful not to pull too tightly which will cause the work to contract and create messy edges.
Changing from colour ‘A’ to ‘B’ happens on the last ‘yarn over’ of the previous stitch. So, work your last stitch in colour ‘A’ and when you have 2 loops left on your hook [see photo 1], yarn over with colour ‘B’ and pull through the last 2 loops on the hook [see photo 2]. You will then continue to work with colour ‘B’ and colour ‘A’ will sit across the top of stitches from the previous row until needed again.
Tip: When there are no more stitches of either colour A or B in the row, drop the carried yarn on the wrong side so you don’t get a ‘turning’ bobble of colour at the end of each row [see photo 4].
Pin for later:
Tapestry Crochet Patterns to try:
Mermaid Beach Towel: here
Seahorse tile: here
Questions I often get asked about Tapestry crochet:
Q) My second colour is showing through – am I doing something wrong?
A) You can try reducing your hook size and working tighter stitches, or increase the weight of yarn used to close any gaps in the fabric that allows the carried yarn to show through.
Q) Can you use any stitch with this technique?
A) Yes, but bear in mind the impact to your finished work if you use a taller stitch, a square of 10 sts by 10 rows will become a rectangle.
Q) What yarn works best?
A) A thicker weight yarn works best when you’re learning the technique, but try to not choose a fluffy yarn with loose fibers that will make it difficult to see your stitches.
Q) Do I just carry the yarn along the back?
A) No, the carried yarn is ‘inside’ the stitches of the current colour, it should be within the stitch, not behind it.
Simple Butterfly tapestry crochet pattern:
Colour A = Purple
Colour B = White
Terminology = US
ch = chain
sc = single crochet
st = stitch
RS = right side
WS = wrong side
Ch 24 in A…
Row 1 [RS] sc in second ch from hook, sc in each ch across, turn. 
Row 2 [WS] ch 1 [does not count as a st here and throughout], sc in each st across. 
Row 3 [RS] ch 1, as row 2.
Row 4 [WS] ch 1 [does not count as st here and throughout], 4 sc in A, 2 sc in B, 7 sc in A, 3 sc in B, 5 sc in A, turn. 
Row 5 [RS] ch 1, 4 sc in A, 5 sc in B, 5 sc in A, 5 sc in B, 4 sc in A, turn.
Row 6 [WS] ch 1, 3 sc in A, 7 sc in B, 1 sc in A, 1 sc in B, 1 sc in A, 7 sc in B, 3 sc in A, turn.
Row 7 [RS] as row 6.
Row 8 [WS] ch 1, 3 sc in A, 17 sc in B, 3 sc in A, turn.
Row 9 [RS] as row 8.
Row 10 [WS] ch 1, 4 sc in A, 15 sc in B, 4 sc in A, turn.
Row 11 [RS] as row 10.
Row 12 [WS] ch 1, 3 sc in A, 7 sc in B, 1 sc in A, 1 sc in B, 1 sc in A, 7 sc in B, 3 sc in A, turn.
Row 13 [RS] ch 1, 3 sc in A, 7 sc in B, 3 sc in A, 7 sc in B, 3 sc in A, turn.
Row 14 [WS] ch 1, 3 sc in A, 6 sc in B, 5 sc in A, 6 sc in B, 3 sc in A, turn.
Row 15 [RS] ch 1, 2 sc in A, 6 sc in B, 7 sc in A, 6 sc in B, 2 sc in A, turn.
Row 16 [WS] ch 1, 2 sc in A, 5 sc in B, 9 sc in A, 5 sc in B, 2 sc in A, turn.
Row 17 [RS] ch 1, 1 sc in A, 4 sc in B, 13 sc in A, 4 sc in B, 1 sc in A, turn.
Row 18 [WS] ch 1, 2 sc in A, 2 sc in B, 15 sc in A, 2 sc in B, 2 sc in A, turn.
Row 19 [RS] ch 1, 23 sc in A.
Row 20 [WS] as row 19.
Row 21 [RS] as row 19.
Fasten off and weave in ends.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and butterfly sample project - if you like this pattern, have a look at some of my other patterns here