Planned pooling is one of the most creative ways to work with color in crochet. This is a very unique approach to working with variegated yarns. The result is that you create "pools" of color. These add dramatic impact to your designs.
In essence, planned pooling takes the pooling effect that naturally happens with multicolored yarns and uses smart planning to turn those spots into a design detail.
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What Is Color Pooling?
Color pooling, which is also called yarn pooling, is a specific technique for working with variegated yarns to create specific color-based designs in your work. The technique requires the use of variegated yarn that has a repeating sequence.
Believe it or not, "pooling" has often been considered a negative thing in knitting and crochet. Variegated yarn naturally creates pools of color that some people have found unappealing. However, designers have turned that history on its head with "planned color pooling", in which you really have to plot out your design in advance to get the look that you're seeking. Although it requires planning, color pooling is typically done with very simple stitches so that you don't have to have extensive crochet knowledge to be able to execute this technique.
People have been adjusting the natural pooling of yarn in myriad ways for a long time. The trend in this guide is specifically about how to create an argyle print using crochet color pooling. (Argyle may also be known by the names tartan and harlequin.) However, color pooling can be used to create a variety of different types of patterns, including stripes, and it can be done in both knitting and crochet. Elk Studio has some examples of crochet color pooling in the round that differ from the argyle print.
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Guide to Planning Out Crochet Color Pooling
The planning part of the project involves some attention. Glamour 4 You has broken this part down really nicely in her planned pooling tutorial. She explains in detail the following basic steps, with a complete photo-rich guide and video.
- Unwind a long portion of the yarn so that you can see the color sequence and repeat pattern.
- Crochet a chain that begins at the start of one repeat and ends at the end of that repeat. (For example, if your yarn repeats the colors red, yellow, blue, green then begins again with red, you will begin at a point in the yarn near where the green leads back into the red.)
- Begin the first row in whatever stitch pattern you might be using (for example, single crochet stitches). You will once again crochet from the beginning of one repeat to the end of the other. Note that your first row at this stage will not be as long as your starting chain. You will undo these extra chains at the end of the project.
- Add or subtract one set of stitches and then continue your pattern with the next repeat sequence. It is this small shift that creates the crochet color pooling design.
- The starting chain is typically between 24 and 36 stitches, but you may need to adjust the length depending on the yarn, hook size, and tension.
- You must have even crochet tension. Melody's Making color pooling cheats video can help.
- It's worth it to do a gauge swatch.
- Make a note of the color sequence at the beginning of your project. Pay attention to make sure that the yarn hasn't changed sequence, as this can occasionally happen in yarn.
- When you add a new skein you will have to make sure that the new one lines up exactly with the color sequence of the old one.
- It takes a minimum of about ten rows to even see if the effect is working correctly.
- Go slowly. Take your time as you work this crochet technique.
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Choosing the Right Yarn
Select a variegated yarn that has a repeating color sequence (required). Make sure that the lengths of each color in the sequence are all approximately the same as one another. You don't want short bits of one color followed by long bits of another color, as this will change the design and you won't get the desired pooling effects.
Choose yarns that have medium lengths of color, not lengths that are extra long or extra short. Aim for a change around 6 inches (although this isn't exact by any means).
Lists of best yarns are available from:
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Best Crochet Stitches for Color Pooling
You can achieve the planned pooling effect by using a variety of simple stitches. The best options are short stitches and stitch patterns including:
It is recommended that you start with a basic stitch such as half double crochet and get used to how planned pooling works, after which you can play around with different effects created with the use of different stitches.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
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Color Pooling Scarf Free Crochet Pattern
Sarah Zimmerman of Repeat Crafter Me offers a free crochet scarf pattern that uses planned color pooling. Working from a pattern allows you to really work out the steps required to understand the design for yourself so that you can begin color pooling right away.
Of course, you have to follow her guide closely, working with the same yarn and hook size. She has used a chunky yarn and a size H crochet hook. She also provides information about what to do when adding a new yarn skein, which is important for most color pooling crochet projects. The result is a beautiful argyle crochet scarf.
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Crochet Argyle Super Scarf
This is another free crochet pattern for a scarf that has the argyle pattern thanks to crochet color pooling. This one is a super scarf, wide enough to be cozy throughout the winter as well as to make a bold fashion statement. See how the same technique can have a different impact depending on the chosen yarn colors. You can get a strong understanding of how to do planned pooling in crochet by trying out several different patterns.
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Argyle Super Scarf and Blanket
Naztazia also offers a free crochet color pooling tutorial along with instructions for using that information to create a large super scarf as well as an even bigger crochet blanket. This is a written pattern and also includes a video tutorial.
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Crochet Tartan Scarf with Planned Color Pooling
The argyle or tartan pattern is great on super scarves but it is a technique that is also effective on much skinnier scarves that you can wear throughout the year. We see that on this free crochet pattern by Little Panda Mommy.
She notes the importance of having uninterrupted crochet time when working on color pooling so as to avoid changing tension a lot and otherwise impacting your design. This is one of the best tips for people who are just getting started with planned pooling.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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Dress up your kitchen with the argyle style using this simple free color pooling crochet pattern from String with Style. She shows how to use a cotton yarn, which is what you need when making dishcloths. Her example shows what the effect looks like in different colorways. Create amazing gifts for the people in your life with this simple pattern.
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Color Pooling Slouch Hat Crochet Pattern
This unique crochet pattern shows how color pooling can look when worked in the round. This pattern is available for sale in the Kathalena Avendano Ravelry store. The pattern also includes instructions for making a matching crochet headband so that you can switch out your accessories depending on the weather. The choice of a black and white yarn gives provides great graphic appeal.
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Color Pooled Crochet Christmas Stocking Pattern
A red, white, and green variegated yarn is perfect for Christmas-themed crochet color pooling. It looks great on this stocking; the argyle print offers some nostalgia that is excellent on this type of design. This crochet pattern is for sale through Ravelry.
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How to Zigzag in Crochet Color Pooling
Five Monkeys Menagerie has come up with a free crochet cowl pattern that demonstrates how to do planned pooling in combination with a chevron-style zigzag stripe.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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Even More Planned Pooling Crochet Patterns
As the technique has grown in popularity, designers everywhere have come up with fresh new planned pooling crochet patterns. Here are some more for you:
- Americana Pride-Planned Pooling crochet throw blanket created in red, white and blue. This is for sale by Amanda Corvello Designs on Ravelry.
- Planned Pooling Crochet Pillow free pattern by Stardust Gold Crochet, with detailed technique instructions.
- Planned Pooling Throw Pillow is a free crochet pattern on Pattern Paradise.
- Planned Pooling Crochet Hook Case by Marielle van der Gun on Ravelry. This pattern presumes that you already know how to do planned pooling.
- Planned Pooling Hat and Cowl Set by My Hobby is Crochet. This is a free crochet pattern set.
- Happy Argyle Scarf is a pretty free crochet pattern from Crochetcetera.
- Planned Pooling Poncho is a free crochet pattern from Marielle van der Gun.
- Ribbed Cowl With Planned Pooling is a free crochet pattern by My Hobby is Crochet that utilizes a yarn with longer color changes.
If you really want to get into this technique, check out the "Yarn Pooling Made Easy" book by Marly Bird. It includes 10 planned pooling crochet patterns.
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Planned Color Pooling App
Many knitters and crocheters use the Planned Color Pooling App to assist in the color pooling design process. The app allows you to adjust stitches and add/ subtract colors to get a sense of what you need to do in order to get the correct design. This saves you a lot of hands-on craft time when figuring out what your crochet project is likely to look like.
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Color Pooling Facebook Group
You can get inspired by the work of other people who are enjoying planned pooling by joining the Color Pooling With Crochet Facebook group dedicated to the technique. This is a great place to ask questions, get support and show off what you've learned. There are more than 29,000 members in this group.