Disclaimer: This article was written back in early June, but I’m just getting around to editing and posting it now. Sometimes life just gets so full of the good things, that we need to take a break from the additional things that busy our lives.
When I first discovered the idea of tapestry crochet, I about peed my pants. I was SO excited and very eager to try my hand at it that I spent the next couple days building up my Pinterest board, collecting idea after idea. I have always enjoyed crocheting in general, and this was the branching realm I had been waiting to discover. The ability to create something with a purpose and to control the quality as it’s being made have taken me over. Reading a pattern is like a logic puzzle, and every stitch is a step toward its resolution.
“Regular” crocheting didn’t feel like enough.
Crocheting was great and all, but it was hard to find a pattern that fit today’s trends and styles. I won’t talk down to the dated pattern books that remind you of Grandma’s house because those are what I learned on, and I’m forever thankful for those memories. But instead, I will talk about the discovery of modernizing crochet and introducing bright patterns to a world of order and predictability.
Exploring the Art of Tapestry Crochet
Tapestry crochet was thrilling for me because I saw it as a way to paint a pattern with yarn. I could take a simple stitch as my building block and make anything under the sun. With tapestry crochet, my dreams were as big as a castle (I personally picture Hogwarts, myself). However, any initial attempt I made with this practice resembled more closely to that of a broken, water-logged raft sinking in the castle’s moat than a castle itself.
Instead of being discouraged, I did some research.
How do I carry the yarn through? Why are there only diagonal lines, and vertical seems impossible? I discovered more questions as I researched, and each question seemed to have a million different answers. I quickly came to a conclusion that many people have their own take on what tapestry crochet means, and I believe the answers to my questions have been saturated, unfortunately, with bad practices being perceived as the correct way all thanks to a popular tutorial. I stepped back and tried to visit the root of my interest.
What is the difference between tapestry crochet and regular crochet?
I feel that there are two parts to this answer that support a difference between the two.
First, tapestry crochet carries each yarn color throughout the whole project as needed. The idea of ending your yarn as soon as you’re done using it doesn’t exist. Instead, it comes along for the ride (#shotgun). This avoids having to weave in many ends along the way (or afterwards all at once!), and makes each color super accessible to be used–even for just one stitch at a time! The more colors you have to carry through, the more it will likely show through your work, so there is somewhat of a limitation, although I haven’t experienced this for myself. Keep your color count within reason, and this issue is easily avoidable.
And second, the stitches themselves change slightly. This is where I wound up doing most of my research, as I saw many people still using the regular, single crochet stitch for tapestry crochet. Nothing is wrong with that, it just gives the outcome a slightly different look. Often times it results in choppy, stair-step-like diagonal lines, as well as not being able to create a crisp, vertical line. Some of these tutorials also recommended only going through the back loop of each stitch, but what that did was create a little rim (from the front of each stitch’s loop) on each row. Again, not a bad thing, just not the look I wanted.
The magic of a half-double crochet stitch (with a slight variation).
Eventually, I was able to find a resource that demonstrated how to achieve a smooth diagonal line, and with a bonus of not having that extra rim on each row. Without getting too heavy into the details, this tutorial provided a way to do just that! The pattern was a bit of a challenge to follow, but once I got the hang of it, I cruised right along.
As I’m always looking for ways to apply what I learn and make it my own, one concern I had in response to this pattern was how I could make the same smooth line at a steeper angle than seen in the diamond sample I crocheted. I never fully figured that out, but I did practice applying the technique from the tutorial I previously linked to a pattern I created myself. I haven’t finished the blue bag that is pictured quite yet, but I’m so close! All that is left is to work up the draw string and the strap. It definitely feels like a project to wrap up in the winter!
I did begin trying out my pattern on a much smaller scale, while also introducing myself to a crochet hook size of 1.5mm––it’s TINY. Needless to say, that works up tremendously slow, and it has not been at the top of my list of priorities this summer. Who knows if I’ll ever finish that, but I am curious to work it up enough to see my created pattern with a much smaller stitch. It has been a fun experiment if nothing else.
Tapestry crochet and beyond…
Tapestry crochet has been a fun one to try, but I don’t see myself fully diving in until I can get past these questions surrounding the “smooth diagonal” stitch process where I can apply it to any pattern, with any angle of a line. I can definitely make this a lot more simple on myself by accepting a staggered line or eliminating the use of vertical lines in my designed patterns, but that’s just not my style!
We shall see where tapestry crochet ends up in my future. Regardless, I am very happy that I pursued this exploration. My creative itch has been scratched. 🙂