Color Stacking Tutorial

September 15, 2017

I was asked about the washcloth / dishcloth I made for the slip stitch tutorial.

Color Stacking - Crochet

I used Color Stacking which is a member of the Planned Pooling family. A great way to have fun with colors. The tutorial here helps you with your first color stacking project.

With color stacking, you take advantage of the colors of a variegated yarn, just as you would do with a Planned Pooling project. When doing color stacking, you aim for the colors to line up instead of crossing in big patterns.

The work you can do with color stacking range from very easy to very difficult - only limited by the yarn and your imagination.

Tunisian Crochet Version

You can also do color stacking with Tunisian crochet. Practicing, stacking makes you very aware of your stitches. While I made the sample below, I found that with that certain hook, stitch and yarn combo, I should tighten my tension slightly at the back motion to keep the right gauge.

Color Stacking - also for Tunisian Crochet

Yarn and Color Sequences

The yarn needs color sequences that are the same for the whole ball. It sounds VERY technical - and it sort of is. So feel free to skip this paragraph and get right to the Tutorial and bullet #1, if you want!

There are different types of sequences. They can vary quite a lot from yarn to yarn. Easier one to start with - when you work in rows - are yarn with a palindrom color sequence like RYBYR. (red-yellow-black-yellow-red). The sequence looks the same when read backwards. This could be worked so B stacks in the middle, the Y's stack upon each other and you change direction in the middle of the R.

Color sequences like RYBY-RYBY are better to do in rounds than rows, when you are a newbie.


Preparation. Start by examining your yarn, finding the color sequence you want. As for color pooling, you can put the yarn on a table, back and forward. I've rolled my yarn on a glass tube as each color piece is pretty long and the roll-up also helps show the color sequence to you. When you look closely at your yarn, you should find you preferred color sequence.

I'll call the sequence of my sample yarn for ORPOROPRO. (O = orange, R = red, P=purple).

I could have chosen to use the full sequence like this and change direction in the middle of every wide orange, using the middle of a wide orange as a turning point. This would give me a pretty wide piece of work though - and I just wanted a washcloth.

Color Stacking - finding a color sequence

So instead, I'm choosing the middle of a wide orange as turning point of my sequence and the middle of a stand-alone red as another turning point. In between those are the purple, which might be possible to stack. The final sample at the top of the photo hopefully shows you, what I mean.

  1. When you have chosen your color sequence and where to turn - turning points (TP), find the first TP at your yarn end. If you start your base row of chains a little before this TP, there should be plenty of chains for the foundation row.
  2. Find the second TP and mark it with a piece of thread in a contrasting color. Pull it a little tight, so it stays where you put it, though loose enough that you can push it further down the yarn.

use a yarn marker

  1. Make chains from before the first TP till you are one stitch from the yarn marker. (You are likely to get too many chains, but using a needle, you can easily rip those out one by one.)

Starting chain for color stacking crochet

Notice: In my sample I started my chains at a random place, because I'm doing slip stitches and a slip stitch pattern is easy to increase at the sides and still maintain the same gauge.

  1. Move your yarn marker to the next TP.

Push the yarn marker further down the yarn

  1. Make one more stitch/chain and insert a stitch marker (if needed). Turn and crochet in the opposite direction.

Turn and crochet

Repeat #4 and #5. Whenever you get close to your yarn marker, then move it to the next TP and remember to make one more stitch before turning.

About the Starting Chain

Be aware that sometimes the first row of chains makes sense - as with my slip stitch pattern - and sometimes it does not. It is a matter of how much yarn is used for each and every little stitch.

Tip. If you have a DC (double crochet) pattern, then try to make a FSC (foundation single crochet) row to begin with. You might be lucky that the colors line up.

Adjusting the Work

If you want your colors to line up very straight, your tension needs to be very precise throughout your work. You will probably also need to try different hooks to find one that are more accurate. If a row is suddenly skewed, then rip it and try again with a tighter or looser tension. Very small adjustments of tension make a huge difference.

My sample is a washcloth and I like that the colors don't stack up in very straight lines. I'm also increasing and decreasing at the sides for a less straight look. Sometimes this prevents the colors to line up too straight, and sometimes it prevents them to get too much out of line. As an extra benefit this saved me all the worrying about tension and whether I had the right size hook.

washcloth dishcloth color stacking

Links and Follow Me

If you want to learn more, see the links I've selected for you. Also remember to follow me for more articles about crochet.

  • has en EXCELLENT little tool that visualize what results you can get from YOUR yarn. It is made for knitting, but works just as well for crochet. No matter whether you want to do color stacking or planned pooling, this site is absolutely worth a visit.
  • Vashti Braha made a great looking scarf pattern, the Jempool Color Stacks 101. According to the pattern description, this is a good pattern for newbies to learn color stacking.

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  1. Replies
    1. Hi Christin,

      You are not the first to ask. Unfortunately, it is a discontinued yarn. 100% cotton. Bought from a store in Denmark. However, there is a lot of yarn out there that will work with color stacking. Try to find something with relatively short color pieces. And preferably at a store, where you can touch and check the yarn for a color sequence.

      Some online shops also show you what a knitted piece looks like or what you can make from it. A wild guess on a yarn that might work is:
      I'm basing this on the patterns shown below the yarn. One of them looks very much like this yarn would work well with color stacking.

      Sorry, I can't be more specific now, but I hope this answer can help you finding some yarn :)

    2. Hi again Christin,

      I just got a tip from Dawn about a yarn she has used. It is called Lily sugar' cream (variegated). This is available for you to buy and when I look it up it is 100% cotton :)


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