“HELP! I have been asked to make a baby blanket in varying shades of really dark colors (think camo) and I’m having so much trouble seeing what I’m doing and end up with the worst headaches. Do you have any suggestions or advice?”

–Christi T

Hi Christi — you are certainly a great sport for taking on that dark project! Working with dark yarns can be a real pain in the eye, but over the years I have come up with a few tried and true tricks to help your work in progress (WIP) get going without giving you a major headache.

The very first thing I always ask when questions about yarn come up: Did you make a gauge swatch? We use the gauge swatch for more than just measuring stitches per inch. The gauge swatch will help you make sure that the stitch pattern and the yarn will work well together. Sometimes, not matter how much light you have to work with, the yarn and the stitches just will not play well together. When you’ve done the swatch and determined that the two will play well together, we can work on getting you set up to work on the big project without stressing your eyes too much.

First, if you can, work outside, or alternately, next to a brightly lit window. The natural light will make such a difference. Often, the problem we encounter with working with dark colored yarns is that the soft diffused yellow light indoors makes stitch definition hard to see. Sitting by a window is my preferred lighting method, and I will often find myself doing a quick daily weather report check when I have a dark colored project in my WIP pile. If I see that the weather is favorable for sitting in the window, that project will come to the top of the pile for the day.

If you can’t work outside during the day, invest in special lights for your crafting endeavors. Proper lighting indoors will reduce eye strain and you’ll thank yourself later. The craft stores all have a selection of “crafting lights” that have a special lightbulb that simulates bright outdoor light. The bulbs produce a clear white light that will help you see your stitches clearly. They can be a bit pricey, but catch them on sale or with a coupon. Your eyes will thank you for the investment. You can also replace the bulb in the lamp near your chair with a “daylight” bulb that produces a whiter light than the standard yellow light.

Another trick of the trade is to keep an old white pillowcase in your WIP basket. Whenever I pull out the dark colored WIP, I will place the pillowcase on my lap. Why does this help? Well, I am usually wearing either dark jeans or black work pants. The white across my lap provides a much needed contrast between what’s in my hands and the background. It helps me see where the yarn is going and helps me see the gaps in the stitches so I can get the hook in the right places.

Give these tricks a try and see how much easier your dark colored baby blanket comes along!

Happy Hooking!

  • Sharon M.

    I have a set of Crochet Lites crochet hooks and I love them. They are great when working with dark yarn.

  • Bonnie S.

    I use the lighted hooks also, but I am left handed and the on switch rubs on my fingers so I use them sparingly.

  • Cheryl K.

    I can’t stand the lighted hooks, they squeak and pull and the light often shines directly in my eye while using the hook. So I use a head lamp. It lights up the whole project and I can see a lot better!

  • Thanks for all the tips! I may tackle the black yarn I have been saving.

  • When I am using multiple colors that includes a skein of something very dark, (for example a ripple pattern) I do the the chain and the pattern foundation rows in one of the lightest colors so it is easier to see and count, as the repeated pattern rows usually have less skipped chains and are a little easier to count and follow than the foundation row(s).

  • The lighted hook that is a light color (silver contrasts well).. will definitely help also the LED light behind your shoulder so it doesn’t make your eyes constrict in the bright light…good luck…several of my family love black so I understand!

    • GrandmaSue10

      A long time ago I saw an apron for sale, one side was white for working with dark yarn, and the other was black for working with light colored yarn. The bright lights are a must also.

  • You may want to choose a pattern, such as a granny square that you keep doing until it reaches 30-36 inches square. A granny square pattern doesn’t require as intense work because you crochet in the chain spaces instead of in the individual stitches. Students that I teach make blankets using the granny square pattern continuing in rounds until the blanket measures the size needed for a newborn. Those blankets are donated to a new parent support program.

  • Margaret O.

    I think you need to be using variegated yarn which is available in stores or online. If you want pinks it does come in the variegated pink camo or if darker then get the variegated marked “camo” right on the skein.

  • Sherry K.

    If you can get any LED lighting, check craft stores and online – they are very bright and aren’t hot – it might help your project. I found some in strips and place them on my lap when I crochet or do cross stitch. I also found in a local discount store, a LED table lamp with an adjustable neck – helps as well.

  • Christi, you can now find crochet hooks with a light on them. Haven’t found in a store yet, but you can order online. Hope this helps.

  • I normally have my tablet on my lap so I can easily read the patten while I’m crocheting. When I use dark colors, I move the tablet to the arm of my chair as the back light makes it difficult for me to see my work. Sometimes I use the crochet hooks that light up. And, of course, lots of light from fixtures on the wall and a floor lamp.


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