Many times, a crochet amigurumi pattern will have you change colors: that is, do some stitches in one color, and other stitches in a second color. I’ve posted a video about how to change colors cleanly. But what do you do after that? When you’re crocheting a stuffed animal, there is often more than one color change. In this post, we’re going to talk about how to solve the problem of loose-looking stitches at the color change. This can be done two ways: either by tying knots at the color change, or stranding your unused color of yarn at the back of your work.
Tying knots to tighten color changes
At left is a photo of a project that I was recently working on, which required color changes at the same place every round (this is often done to create a different colored tummy on an animal, as in Brenton the Bear, Don the Crocodile, and Hansie the Hedgehog). As you can see, the stitches around the color change look loose and sloppy. This is because, when you join a new strand of yarn without tying a knot, there is nothing to stop the stitch from pulling on the yarn tail, and becoming a bigger stitch.
How do we solve it? We tie knots! At right is a photo of the back of my work, after I have tied knots at every color change. I tie the knots after I have finished crocheting the piece, but you can do this after each color change, if you would like. Tying knots is especially important if you are making amigurumi, which will be stuffed, because the stuffing will poke through any bits of loose stitch that are around.
What does our end result look like? Let’s look at the photo on the left. The left half shows what the color change looks like after knots have been tied. The right half shows what the piece looks like before knots are tied. What a difference! To finish this piece, I would tie knots on the other side of the work, and then continue following directions to complete my amigurumi!
Stranding the yarn in color changes
At this point, you may have a question lurking: do I need to tie knots every single time there is a color change? What about patterns like Herschelle the Giraffe (pictured at right), where there are color changes at least 6 times per round? Isn’t that terribly annoying? There’s good news! You only really need to tie a knot when you are introducing a new strand of yarn! If the color changes are very frequent, you can ‘strand’ the yarn that you aren’t using along the back.
We’ll use Herschelle as an example to demonstrate how stranding in color changes works. Herschelle’s body is yellow and brown. You begin crocheting in yellow, and then need to crochet a few stitches in brown. You’ll tie a knot when you introduce the new brown yarn (just like we talked about above). When you switch to crocheting in brown, just leave the yellow yarn dangling in the back. After a few stitches, it’s time to crochet with the yellow yarn again. This time, you can pick up the yellow yarn, and begin using it. Because the yellow yarn is already anchored in your work (and only a few stitches away), you won’t get big stitches in your work. Hooray!
Selecting a technique
How do you know which technique to use? When do you need to join a new yarn, and tie a knot, and when can you strand the yarn along? This decision is a personal preference. I would recommend stranding the yarn if the next color change is less than 7 stitches away (I just made that number up- it’s an approximation). However, if the next color change is a long way away (as in the first case we looked at), it’s wise to snip the yarn and rejoin.
Hopefully, now, we’ll all have beautiful color changes!