Tips for Changing The Colors in Your Crochet Project

Sometimes you see a crochet pattern that you really like but the color scheme suggested by the designer isn’t quite right for you. Or perhaps you want to make the same pattern using more or fewer colors than those in the original design. How do you know ahead of time what the likely effect will be when changing a pattern’s colors? This guide can help.

Christmas Morning Striped Throw

In order to best understand the impact of changing color choices, let’s compare options using the Christmas Morning Striped Throw crochet pattern as our point of departure. Before we begin, you should know about the colors in this crochet pattern.

The original design calls for the use of 6 colors of Red Heart Super Saver yarn as follows:

  • Color A: Cherry Red
  • Color B: Turqua
  • Color C: Spring Green
  • Color D: Perfect Pink
  • Color E: Soft White
  • Color F: Shocking Pink

To understand the impact of changing your color choice for a pattern, you need to know how to color changes are laid out in the original pattern. The first 20 rows of the original crochet pattern call for the following color changes:

  1. Color B
  2. Color A
  3. Color A
  4. Color C
  5. Color D
  6. Color C
  7. Color D
  8. Color C
  9. Color A
  10. Color A
  11. Color E
  12. Color E
  13. Color E
  14. Color E
  15. Color A
  16. Color A
  17. Color F
  18. Color F
  19. Color B
  20. Color F

Using The Same Number of Colors As Original Pattern

6 colors of super saver yarn

One easy way to change the colors in a crochet pattern is to use the same number of colors but make different color choices. When doing this, you can opt to keep the original color changes or also alter those. There are pros and cons to each option. For both of the following examples, the following colors of Red Heart Super Saver yarn were used instead of those in the original design:

  • Color A: Baby Pink
  • Color B: Cornmeal
  • Color C: Frosty Green
  • Color D: Country Blue
  • Color E: Orchid
  • Color F: Light Raspberry

Keep Color Changes the Same

6 colors crochet swatch

The first option you have is to keep the color changes the same as in the original. This is the best choice if you want to stay true to the original design. Often, particularly in very colorful work, the designer has made the color changes specifically to highlight certain details of the crochet pattern.

In the example of the Christmas Morning Striped Throw, we can see how each section of color changes highlights different types of stitches. Color A is used for the rows of double crochet that separate different types of stitches. Colors C and D are alternated in rows 4-8 to showcase a stitch pattern created using single crochet and chain spaces. Color E is used in rows 11-14 to showcase the V-stitch while Color B is used in row 19 to emphasize the bobble stitch. This is all very intentional; the colors interact with each other to create a beautiful palette but the specific places for the color changes highlight the stitches that are used.

If you choose to do this then you will select 6 new colors. Your color palette matters significantly when so many colors interact with each other so consider them carefully. The ones selected for our example make a nice springtime palette. You should label each of your colors with a letter from A-F so you don’t get confused about which color is which as you work.

Here are some ways of doing that:

  • Place the colors in front of you from left to right in the order from A-F. Since the Super Saver skeins are large and don’t move around a lot thanks to the center-pull, this works easily.
  • Place each color in a yarn bowl and label the bowls with the appropriate yarn color letter using masking tape and a Sharpie.
  • Place each color in a Ziplock bag and label the bags with their assigned colors.
  • Cut a few inches of yarn off of each color. Tape those in order, from A-F, on an index card. Label them A-F accordingly next to each string.

As you read the pattern and it says “switch to Color F”, you want to easily remember which of your chosen colors is F.

Alter Color Changes

6 colors rainbow crochet swatch

The other option that you have is to ignore the suggested color changes and use any variation that appeals to you. In this example, we’ve used the exact same colors as those above. Instead of following the A-F color changes, we’ve worked a repeat of A-F, changing colors each row, regardless of what the instructions say. You can see that the result is quite different.

Because we didn’t follow the color changes suggested by the designer, we lose the impact of having each stitch pattern repeated. (The V-stitches, for example, are still noticeable, but they definitely don’t stand out as much as if we had kept all of the rows the same color as in the original.) So, you should keep in mind that making this choice may reduce the intended impact of stitch choice. This means that the interplay of the colors is more important than ever. If you are going to change the colors in a project and not stick to the original pattern of color changes then you need to pay extra special attention to choosing colors that all work together.

In our example, all of the colors work together as a sort of spring palette. You may notice that the striping is laid out in almost a rainbow striping (soft hues of pink, yellow, green, blue, purple) so that they complement each other well. If we had removed one of the colors and added brown or burnt orange or royal purple, the effect would have been very different.

Use a Self-Striping Yarn

self-striping swatch

Super Saver Stripes – Retro Stripe Colorway

If you want to have very colorful work but you don’t want to change colors from row to row or worry about the order of the colors in the pattern then your best bet is a self-striping yarn. The colors of the yarn have been designed to work well together, so you don’t have to worry. The striping happens naturally, so you also don’t have to worry about where color changes will take place. That said, the color changes are highly unlikely to fall where intended by the original designer so, as with the option above to “alter color changes” you’re going to find that you may lose some of the definition of one stitch pattern to the next.

The benefit here is that you get to work a very colorful pattern and produce a multi-color project without having to concern yourself with changing yarn colors, keeping the colors straight from row to row, or purchasing many different colors of yarn.

Use a Single Solid Color of Yarn

cornmeal color swatch

Red Heart Super Saver in Cornmeal Color

The benefits of this option are the same as those for using a self-striping yarn in that you just buy one color of yarn and work from beginning to end of the skein. It’s a simple, meditative way to crochet. In this case, you don’t end up with a colorful project, though. Instead, you have a project that is one solid color. With this choice, what your eye will notice first is the chosen color for the project, and what it will notice almost immediately after is the project’s texture.

Although each stitch pattern isn’t highlighted like in the original pattern, you can easily see the different stitches upon closer examination. This is in contrast to the same pattern worked in a self-striping yarn where the color changes can distract from the stitches themselves. Even if you aren’t looking carefully at the stitches, you get a sense of the changing texture as you look at the work. Another benefit of a single-color crochet project, such as this blanket, is that it may fit more easily into your home – or the home you are gifting a project to – than a multi-color project (especially if you know the home’s decor and can match the color choice accordingly).

Using Two Colors of Yarn

If you want to have more than one color but don’t want a whole bunch of colors, it can be nice to choose two colors. Most people find it easier to select two colors that go together than to choose six. Plus you can do fun things with striping if you work in two colors. Similarly to when working with all six colors, you need to choose whether to make the same color changes as the original pattern or change every row.

Keep Color Changes the Same

Since you are only working with two colors, you will change from A to B and back to A, making the change every time the pattern calls for a change. For example, in the original pattern for the Christmas Morning Striped Throw, the color changes in the first ten rows are as follows:

  1. Color B
  2. Color A
  3. Color A
  4. Color C
  5. Color D
  6. Color C
  7. Color D
  8. Color C
  9. Color A
  10. Color A

Working in only two colors, it would instead be:

  1. Color A
  2. Color B
  3. Color B
  4. Color A
  5. Color B
  6. Color A
  7. Color B
  8. Color A
  9. Color B
  10. Color B

You see, when there’s a change in the pattern, you switch to the other yarn. When there’s no change in the pattern (as in from row 2 to 3 or row 9 to 10) then you continue working with the color you’re already using. Working this way preserves the original intended color changes, allowing some of the stitch patterns to stand out the way they are supposed to while still allowing for the interplay between only two colors.

Change Color Row By Row

2 colors swatch

Red Heart Super Saver in Colors Frosty Green and Country Blue

Alternatively, you can just switch from row to row, which will create a striped effect. This is often bold, especially if you are working with colors that have contrast (like black and white). So you just begin with Color A, switch to Color B in row 2, back to Color A in row 3 and so on and so forth. You ignore the color changes in the instructions. In this case, you may lose some of the definition of each group of stitch pattern but the stitches themselves do stand out because each row is couched between the colors of the rows above and below it.

For example, in the original pattern, the two rows of v-stitches are the same color. So the whole block of v-stitches stands separate from the rest. In the striped version, each row of v-stitches is a different color but the rows stand out individually (with the green v’s between rows of blue, for example) still showcasing the stitch. What stands out most in a two-color pattern alternating from row to row is the striping. At a closer look, you definitely see each row of stitches for what it is.

Other Options for Color Changes

crochet swatches in different colors

There are so many different options for color changes that it’s virtually impossible to cover them all. You can take the same pattern and work it so many different ways just by choosing different colors each time. It’s a fun thing to try! Here are just a few of the other options you have:

Work with 3, 4 or 5 Colors

In other words, you aren’t limited to either 1, 2 or all of the colors when changing up a six-color pattern like the Christmas Morning Striped Throw. You could play around with what it looks like in any other number of colors as well. You can label the colors if you want to follow the pattern’s color changes. (For example, in a three-color version, you might choose baby pink to be Colors A and B, orchid to be colors C and D and cornmeal to be colors E and F.) Or you can just change colors as it feels right.

Work in More Colors Than The Pattern

Maybe you have 8 or 12 colors you want to play within this same pattern instead of using 6. Or maybe you have a crochet pattern that is written in a single color and you want to see what it looks like in 2-color stripes or in 4 different colors. Decide how many colors you want to use and adapt the pattern accordingly.

For example, let’s say that you have 12 colors for the Christmas Morning Striped Throw. This pattern has a stitch design that goes across 41 rows and then repeats twice. So perhaps you do the first 41 rows in the first set of 6 colors, the second 41 rows in the second set of 6 colors and return to the first set of colors for the final repeat. Or maybe you just use all 12 colors in a specific order, metered A-L, changing color after each row. The important thing is to decide in advance when you want to change colors and label the yarn colors accordingly. This will eliminate confusion as you work!

Use Ombres and Color Blocking

This is about your color selection, but it’s also about where to make your color changes in a pattern.

Ombre Color Changes

Let’s say that you wanted to use the Christmas Morning Striped Throw crochet pattern but you want to do it in an ombre of blue using 6 colors of blue. Learn how to crochet an ombre here. Let’s say that you’re going to use a single-strand ombre (so you’re not trying to mix colors within a row to get more gradation) and that you want an ombre that is approximately equal in length from one section to the next.

You have a crochet pattern with 137 rows and you want to use six colors, so you will have 22-23 rows of each of the six colors. This means that you will work the first 22 rows in Color A, the next 23 rows in Color B, etc. You will want to mark off on your pattern where each color change should be made so you don’t forget. You may also want to use a row counter as you work to keep track of where you are.

The other option would be to look for a convenient break in the pattern that allows you see where to change colors without counting specific rows. Remember the Christmas Morning Striped Throw has a set of 41 rows that repeat a total of 3 times. Since you have 6 colors, you could plan to break from one color to the next halfway through each repeat and at the end of each repeat. So you would mark off a point halfway through the repeat (around row 21). Then you would begin with Color A, work to row 21, switch to Color B and finish the section (to the point in the pattern where it says “repeat rows 2-41”). You would switch to Color C to begin the next section, ending it with Color D, etc.

Color Blocking

You can use color blocking using two or more colors. Let’s say that you want to use the blue and green two-color option above, but you want to begin with blue and end with green. You may want to make half the blanket in blue and then finish the other half in green. Or you may want to make the first third in blue and the other two thirds in green. Alternatively, working in 4 colors, you might do equal lengths of blue, green, yellow, and pink sections. You should finish all of the rows you want to complete in one color before switching to the next color. In this way, each section highlights the texture as it would if you were working in only on color but you also get some color interplay in the finished piece.

Take a Look

Here are some additional articles that will help you on your journey with color.

Crochet 3 Ways

Review the blog post series where each post showcases one pattern worked in 3 different color combinations:

Corner-to-Corner Throw – 3 Colorful Ways

Hexagon Baby Blanket – 3 Colorful Ways

Radiating Ripple – 3 Colorful Ways

Color Suggestions

Here are some tips on choosing colors that go well together:

Color Suggestions for Ombre

3 Easy Tips for Getting More Confident with Color

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.