I recently saw a portrait of an obviously much loved granddaughter, worked in tapestry crochet. I was so impressed by the portrait that I decided I would try to master the art. I assumed it would be a very simple matter, but it turned out to be a little more complicated, as there are several ways to produce tapestry crochet.
Normally, tapestry crochet is done with single crochet stitches. However, the slip stitch, half double, and double crochet stitches can also be used.
The yarn not currently being worked is carried inside the stitches, dropped and picked up when needed, and colours are changed before the stitch is completed. When switching between colours, the yarn can become very tangled, and I have yet to find a satisfactory way to deal with this. I just stop periodically and untwist the yarn.
Tighter stitches produce a stiffer fabric with well hidden carried colours, while more loose stitches show the carried colours and produce a fabric with drape.
The Basic Technique:
The fabric produced using single crochet, double crochet, and half double crochet is slightly twisted with slanted design motifs. If you’re right-handed, the fabric/design twists/slants to the right. If you’re left handed, the fabric/design twists/slants to the left. I prefer to use the slip stitch, as the resulting tapestry crochet fabric looks more like fabric woven on a loom, instead of crocheted with a hook.
The swatch below uses both techniques:
Firstly, I worked the design using slip stitch. The edges of the motif are very defined and the motif is relatively straight. I then repeated the design using a normal double crochet stitch. As can clearly be seen, the edges of the motif are less defined and have a definite slant to the right (I’m right-handed).
In my opinion, tapestry crochet is best worked in the round. However, you can obtain the good results when working flat if you cut the yarn at the end of each row and only work on the right side. This of course will mean weaving in an awful lot of ends.
Normally, when working tapestry crochet fabric flat, one row is worked on the right side and the next row is worked on the wrong side. This results in ridged fabric with a rather jagged edged design motif. I found a number of techniques online that claim to combat/correct this, such as crocheting backwards or crocheting one row with the right hand then the next row with the left hand. I cannot comment on the success or failure of these techniques, as I found all of them to be quite impossible to master.
Working tapestry crochet is very additive. Once started, I simply could not put it down. I will continue to practice and try to complete a project when I am sufficiently proficient.