How to Change Color in Tapestry Crochet (easy!)

A tapestry is defined as a heavy cloth that has designs or pictures woven into it and is usually used for wall hangings. It can also mean something made up of different things, people, colors, ideas, and more.

Most people associate any flat piece with multiple color changes (especially if it makes a recognizable image) as tapestry crochet. While tapestry crochet is typically referring to a specific technique, the basic idea of it encompasses far more.

When researching tapestry crochet, you might also stumble upon intarsia, Fair Isle, mosaic, or Tunisian crochet. They are all different techniques to (usually) create flat pieces that involve many color changes.

Let me briefly explain what they all are:

Tapestry crochet is typically a single crochet piece that involves working with two or more colors in one single row, frequently switching between the colors during one row. This is great for pixel art or graphs as one stitch typically equals one pixel or square.

Fair Isle crochet, which is also called stranded crochet, is a colorwork technique similar to tapestry crochet with some minor differences when it comes to dealing with the unworked yarn. This is my personal preferred method.

Intarsia crochet is incredibly similar to tapestry, since it involves working with two or more colors in one row. It is typically used for when you have only a few color changes and a larger block of one color in the design, such as a heart or a square.

Mosaic crochet, unlike the others, uses one color per row with a combination of single crochets, double crochets, and chains to complete the design. Depending on the specific mosaic technique, this will either leave you with no ends to weave in or all the ends to weave in.

While some might disagree with this being in a tapestry crochet article, I do think it needs to be mentioned as I have personally used it for tapestry crochet before with lovely results! Tunisian crochet is a very different technique that usually relies on a specific, longer hook. Like knitting, the stitches are open on your hook/needle. Unlike knitting, it only uses one hook.

As all things do, they all have their own pros and cons. Some may work better with a specific project while others may just be easier for you to learn or do. I suggest giving them all a try at some point in your creative life!


Tapestry crochet is usually what beginners will find on their own, unless their teacher is practiced in the art of mosaic or any of the others. I know it was the first technique out of these that I discovered during my journey!

If you have colorwork all over the pattern and plan to switch between colors frequently, tapestry is one of the best techniques for that. You won’t have to weave in any ends, besides the beginning and end tails (unless you work those in as you go!).

There are two ways you can add colors to a tapestry: at the beginning of a row or in the middle, right before it needs to switch. My personal preference is adding new colors right before I need to switch them because I don’t want to make the fabric too bulky.

Regardless of how you add in colors, the color changing technique stays the same. If you’ve changed color before in amigurumi, you might know where this is going.

Right before you complete the last stitch of your current color (black), drop black’s working yarn and pick up your next color (green). You will take green’s working yarn and complete the stitch.

Since you will need black in just a few stitches (and don’t want to weave in any snipped ends), you will be working black’s loose strand into the green stitches. You will crochet your green stitch like normal, but you will press the black strand on the wrong side of your work and crochet around that as well. This is called carrying your yarn.

Depending on your hook size, yarn size, tension, loose strand placement, project design, and many other things, you might end up seeing the other color poke through. If this doesn’t bother you, this might be the easiest technique for you, especially if you’re not a fan of weaving in ends.

If you still like this technique of carrying your yarn, but dislike the amount of color you can see coming through, you might want to try crocheting in the back loop only (BLO). It can help hide that pesky carry-through, but it can also change the way your project looks. When in doubt, do a swatch!

The carried yarn will create a heavier fabric since you will have multiple layers of yarn instead of just one layer. It will make it sturdier because of the extra layer.

You will want to pause and occasionally tug at the sides of your project to make sure none of the carried yarn has gotten snagged or was accidentally pulled too tight. This will keep the fabric from having awkwardly squished or puckered rows and keep it at its correct size.

Tapestry crochet can be worked in rounds, but I personally find the carried yarn shows up more in amigurumi. It might be because my tension is very tight. I will always recommend trying something before passing it off completely!

Fair Isle / Stranded

Fair Isle, or stranded as I’ve seen it called, is my personal preferred method of tapestry crochet. It’s very similar to the tapestry crochet that I method above, with a slight difference.

Instead of carrying your yarn through the stitches, you will be floating the unworked yarn on the back/wrong side of your work. Floating your yarn means you will have strands of unworked yarn visible on the backside.

The back of the Fair Isle crochet – this is a very obvious non-reversible technique.

It looks quite messy when you flip over your work, but I find your design looks much cleaner on your front/right side. The project isn’t unnecessarily bulky either, oddly enough.

I like using Fair Isle for amigurumi. The yarn won’t ‘bleed’ through since it’s not carried, and the floats are hidden within. I also don’t have to worry about tying loose ends to make sure they don’t unravel.

Fair Isle crochet also keeps your project at a ‘normal’ size. You won’t have to take into consideration the addition of yarn layers in it like tapestry crochet, and you don’t have to worry about how it might warp if you decide to do the BLO tapestry crochet.

Fair Isle allows the project to stretch more than tapestry crochet – if you give your floating yarn enough slack! This technique takes a little bit to get down due to the possibility of tightening the floating strands too much.

If you tighten your floating strands too much, it can lead to warping of your rows. Because of how the yarn is attached, you can’t stretch it out to the correct width like tapestry crochet. You would need to frog and redo the row.

You can see on the left how the side bows in. I tightened it too much, leading it to warping.

While you don’t want your floats to be too tight, you also don’t want them to be too loose. While looser is better than tighter, you still need to find a good balance between them.

If you have a long float, I would recommend anchoring it a couple times during the row by crocheting over it once like in tapestry crochet. Staggering the anchors will prevent the floats from appearing in the front of your work.

I personally wouldn’t recommend Fair Isle crochet for wearables unless you are anchoring your floats throughout or there is a backing that hides and protects the floats. They can get snagged and rip easier if they are under constant wear.


Intarsia is also incredibly similar to tapestry crochet, but there are some technical differences. The main difference is how intarsia doesn’t carry or float yarn but uses bobbins for different colors.

Bobbins, in crochet, are a way to keep your color changes clean from a big tangled mess and reduce the amount of skeins rolling around on the floor. They are small sections of your main yarn skein wrapped around a bobbin (which can be an actual sewing bobbin, a clip, or a piece of cardboard – anything that yarn wraps around).

Intarsia is best for when you have a smaller project that has large blocks of color within one row. Larger projects are possible, however, and I’ve seen many people work on a blanket with bobbins to help control their yarn mess!

How to create a bobbin with just your fingers!

While tapestry and Fair Isle crochet can be done easily in rounds, intarsia is best done in back-and-forth rows due to the nature of the bobbins. Since you aren’t floating or carrying your yarn in the project, you will want to be able to drop and continue your bobbins together as close as possible.

Intarsia is popular in large corner to corner (C2C) projects and helps make the color changes easier. In most C2C work-in-progress pictures that I see, I always see the yarn bobbins!


From what I could find, the general consensus of the online crochet community is that tapestry crochet and mosaic crochet are not in the same technique category. However, I thought it best to include it into this color changing article, even if they have drastic differences.

While mosaic may not be considered tapestry crochet, I personally consider it to be an amazing way to create geometric patterns for a flat project. Going back to the top of this article, isn’t that sort of similar to tapestry’s definition: a cloth with a design on it?

Regardless of opinion, mosaic crochet tends to show up whenever I am looking for things related to tapestry crochet. Due to this frequency, I thought it better to include it.

Mosaic crochet only uses one color per row – which may be why it’s not considered tapestry crochet. You change colors only at the end of the rows, and the stitches you use create the designs as if you were working on the same row.

There are two different types of mosaic crochet: overlay and inset. You may see interlocking crochet paired with it as well, but this is not considered a mosaic crochet technique.

Overlay mosaic crochet leaves ends to weave in, but you don’t have to turn your work!

Overlay mosaic crochet involves attaching one color of yarn at the beginning of each row and using a combination of regular and dropped stitches paired with back or front loops to create your design. Because you reattach your yarn at the beginning of the row, there is no turning involved (but there are a lot of ends!).

You can check out Juniper and Oakes for a more in-depth explanation and pattern for overlay mosaic crochet!

Inset mosaic crochet creates a reversible pattern and less ends to weave in.

Inset mosaic crochet uses a two-row color, reversible pattern. You will work two rows in the same color, turning your work, and pick up your other color for the third and fourth rows. Similarly to overlay, you use a combination of regular and dropped stitches for the design.

If you’re wanting an example, HanJan Crochet goes over what she calls a ‘2 row mosaic crochet technique’ which is exactly what it sounds like: inset mosaic crochet!

I personally enjoy inset more than overlay (no ends to weave in!), but overlay often has more intricate designs that you can’t do with inset patterns. It seems that overlay is more popular than inset as well.

I think interlocking crochet is gorgeous!

Interlocking crochet is also known as double filet crochet. While it looks a lot like mosaic crochet, it is actually made up of interwoven mesh designs to create interesting colorwork. Interested? The Crochet Project has an entire article for anyone just getting started.


Truthfully, Tunisian crochet is not for beginners. It typically takes a special long hook to even get started, and the technique can be hard to get down. However, I personally think it’s a great tapestry technique because of how perfectly square its stitches are.

Color changing in Tunisian can be a bit more difficult than in typical crochet, since you must pass over the stitches twice for one row. Depending on when and where you change color can affect your final design.

Since I’m not too practiced in Tunisian as of right now, I’m going to redirect you to Heart Hook Home who has a wonderful in-depth explanation on three different Tunisian color changes you can do.