Why and When You Should Yarn UNDER Instead of OVER

Did you know that there is a correct way to yarn over in crochet and that many people do it incorrectly?

When I teach crochet to first-time crocheters, yarning over typically seems to be the hardest concept for people to grasp. I have multiple slides in my presentation dedicated to explaining the right way and the wrong way to yarn over. Most first-time crocheters tend to yarn under rather than over.

So what’s the big deal? Why does it matter whether you yarn over or under? Doesn’t it complete the stitch either way?

Yes it does complete the stitch. But it does matter. I won’t go in-depth today, but the short answer is that the height of the stitches change (did you see what I did there?). When continuously yarning UNDER instead of OVER, your stitches are shorter than if you had yarn over-ed, which makes a difference over the entirety of a project.

SO WHEN IS IT OKAY TO YARN UNDER?

When you’re doing tapestry crochet!

Tapestry crochet is a crochet technique that looks complicated, but is really very simple. It is a series of simple single crochet stitches and color changes that are used to create cool graphics or, my favorite, words.

When switching from one color to the next in tapestry crochet, instead of yarning OVER, like usual, you yarn UNDER.

To do this, you stop mid-stitch on the last stitch before changing colors. AKA when you have two loops on your hook as pictured.

Pull the color you will not be using forward. Move your hook so it is behind the color you are transitioning to and pull it through the two loops on your hook (a yarn under).

Crochet as normal with the new color by yarning over until it is time to change colors again. Just make sure you crochet over the yarn color that you are not using!

SO WHY IS THERE SUCH AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION IN TAPESTRY CROCHET?

Two main reasons:

  1. Yarning under when transitioning colors provides a sharper color transition

  2. The design slants less. It allows for the design to have clearer transitions, which is especially important when doing tapestry crochet.

So there you have it! The ONE time that it is acceptable to yarn UNDER instead of OVER.

Happy crocheting!

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