I had to ask this because I have been having problems with this. This there a proper way to use 4 or more colors in a crochet project? Like for example, if you wanted to crochet a portrait or a something that includes shading and you need at least 4 colors to do it.

I want to know how to prevent the project from shrinking on itself and tightening from switching to one color to another.

  • 1
    Welcome to Arts & Crafts! Can you be more specific about the problem you're having? Is it starting badly, something wrong with the ends matching, etc. -- the more specific you can be, the better quality of answers you will get :)
    – Erica
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 12:15
  • 1
    This is very open ended. Do you have an example of something you are trying to do. Colour changes are relatively simple but changing too frequently can be hard depending on your technique and project.
    – Matt
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 12:57
  • @Erica Well I wanted to try to work on something that would be similar to this. maintje.deviantart.com/art/… But, I just wanted to know how to prevent the project from shrinking on itself and tightening from switching to one color to another.
    – D.k. White
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 18:37
  • Why would switching colors cause it to shrink?
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 2:39
  • I am really curious how you tie off and change colours now.
    – Matt
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 3:34

3 Answers 3


You use more than three colours the same way you use three colours.

If the different patches of colour are close together you can leave the thread idle while working till you need it again. When slightly wider apart you can lock the idle yarn under a stitch or wind it around a different thread that is handy.

But if the distance is big, tie off and start with the colour again when you need it.

Depending on the actual style of crochetting yarn taken along under the stitches might show or be hidden.
If hidden, it is the best way to move the idle yarn for a few stitches, not only locking the lengths away but also strengthening the colour changes.
You can also use this method to anchor the end where you take out a colour and the start of use of a new colour.


Assuming that all of your yarn is the same thickness and is shrinks the same amount in the wash (best achieved by buying the same brand of yarn for each color), the reason that your piece "shrinks" is most likely because there is not enough slack in the yarn you carry from one section to another to spread across the distance between each usage of that particular color.

It is easier to find information and illustrative images for knitting, so I will use those, but the concepts are the same for both knitting and crochet. When your piece has individual patches of color surrounded by other colors, it is called "intarsia." If you have multiple colors interspersed throughout the piece, that is called "stranded" work.

Here is an example of a knitted piece made with intarsia: enter image description here

If you look closely, the person has worked the pink yarn across to where the tan begins, then s/he has worked the tan yarn for however many stitches, and then restarted with a new source of pink yarn. When you are working this way, you end up with a bunch of long ends of yarn hanging from the back of your piece waiting until you get back to where you are ready to use them again. Frequently, this yarn will be wound around a bobbin to allow you to unravel just enough yarn to be able to work that section and then shorten the length again to avoid tangling.

I like this type of bobbin best enter image description here

but you can also use this type enter image description here

If you are working a stranded piece, then you won't stop and start the colors, but will carry them across the reverse side of your piece until you are ready to use them again.

Here's an example of a stranded piece: enter image description here

You can see, at the bottom, how there are strands of the white yarn that are being carried along at the back of the piece across the span of two or three stitches. Not leaving enough slack in these strands is what will cause your piece to shrink or pucker.

The rule of thumb for stranded pieces is not to carry your yarn across more than three stitches (and I often reduce this to two stitches) before tacking it down somehow. This allows you to have better control and ensure that you have enough slack to keep the final piece even. The way you "tack" the yarn is, before starting the next stitch, move your active yarn to the reverse side of the work, below the stranded yarn, then wrap it around the strand so that the active yarn is now above the strand and then work your next stitch. This will form a little loop around the stranded yarn and will hold it in place.

Even when doing the wrapping process, any time you strand across too long a section of your piece, you run the risk of causing pull-in or puckering. So, in general, when I am faced with stranding across more than about 5-6 stitches, I will usually consider working that section in intarsia.

If you need more help, try googling "stranded crochet" or "crochet intarsia." I saw quite a few good resources with both searches.

As @willeke pointed out, knitting and crochet are worked differently. So, here is an image of how to carry yarn and wrap yarn in crochet from this article. The concept is the same, except that you will lay the stranded yarn along the top of the crochet stitches that you are working, instead of behind the work, like you do in knitting. You still want to make sure and wrap every two or three stitches.

enter image description here

  • Very nice samples of knitted work. But knitting works different from crochetting so the samples are no use for crochetters. Which methods work in crochetting depend very much on the methods used. In some stitches you can get away with having many and long lengths at the back, in others you can not even have it going behind one stitch.
    – Willeke
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 16:46
  • As I said, it is difficult to find pictures of crochet to use as examples, so I used pictures of knitting to help illustrate the concepts I was explaining. I have added a diagram that shows how to strand in crochet. Can you provide more specifics about when stranding won't work in crochet? The OP did not identify what type of stitches s/he was using, so it might be helpful if you could identify the stitches where stranding would not work.
    – magerber
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 18:03

When I use two or more colors,
first: I use the same kind of yarn, if one yarn is thinner than another that is a problem, and the project can shrink.
Second: I make the las point with the next color that I´m going to use.
For example:
If I am using the red color, and I am making squares, the last point (the last movement) I make it with the blue color. Yo can see it in this youtube video.

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