Of things to keep me up at night, a tea cosy was never on my list. But a few months ago, that was precisely what happened as I tossed and turned over how to get the look in stranded crochet that Knit Now editor Kate had asked for.
Colour work is my favourite thing in knitting, so it makes sense that I would want to use it in crochet.
1. Colourwork is normally worked in UK double crochet (US single).
2. Usually, you use a grid chart to change in the middle of the row. Colour changes are worked in the last yarn over of the stitch, so:
Insert hook into stitch, yo, pull through, yo with colour B and pull through.
3. As you work along the row, you carry the unused colour through the stitches and work over it.
But as much as I love it, I have always had a couple of problems with crochet colourwork:
1. If the item is worked in the round, the colours are solid, but there is a tell tale right bias to the stitches. Despite every effort to straighten this, when I do colourwork, my squares are noticeably trapezoidal.
2. If worked in rows, the carried yarn usually shows through the stitches, which creates a slightly muddied effect.
3. No matter if working in the round or in rows, anywhere there is just 1 stitch of a colour on its own, it is often very untidy.
Now, I have tried lots of technique to resolve these issues. When working in rounds, I have followed this tutorial of stranding the yarn behind and using tight round joins. In rows, I have tried to keep the yarn to the wrong side as much as possible. Or, like in Lessons in Geometry, I have worked the carried yarn issue into the design to create a woven effect. And the Bunting Blanket from Crochet at Play is designed so only the white is carried through adding to the clarity (but you can still see the white peeping through).
However, none of these would solve my tea cozy problem...and so I laid awake. I wanted the clean lines of rows with the solid look of rounds. After making 2 tea cosies - one in rows, one in rounds, I still wasn't happy.
At the suggestion of Joanne, I tried working in the BLO and finally I could sleep. Not only did this simple change mean that I could eliminate the bias, but it also meant single stitches were much cleaner on their own.
The principle is very simple. Working in rounds and in the back loop only,
1. Work up to the last stitch of the current colour.
2. Insert hook into the next stitch, holding the non-working yarn across the top of the stitches to work around it,
3. Yarn over with current colour and pull through
4. Yarn over with new colour and pull through with new colour.
And so, Swiss Cross Tea Cozy was born. No bias, limited yarn showing through and nice clean lines.
You can buy the pattern in Knit Now's Quick and Easy Crochet Summer Issue.