Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Tunisian crochet is a wonderful and very satisfying technique to learn if you want to progress from normal crochet.  The fabric produced is almost like a hybrid between knitting and crochet and there are lots of ways you can vary stitches. The resulting fabric has a delicious woven effect.

The history of Tunisian crochet is a bit vague but it is thought it is related to a kind of hook knitting from Egypt, Afghanistan or Tunisia where shepherds or sailors may have used the technique to make basic clothing. It was very popular in the 19th century in the UK and Europe (some sources say Queen victoria favoured it) but fell out of fashion in the 1920s.  The 1970s saw a resurgence in popularity with many new patterns available.

First of all you need a Tunisian crochet hook, which looks like this – a crochet hook with a wire attached so that you can produce wide pieces of fabrics for garments or blankets. Your local yarn store will be able to give you more information about our KnitPro hooks.

In Tunisian crochet each row is made up of two passes. The reason it is a bit like knitting is that on the first pass (right to left) you work stitches that stay on the hook like a row of knitting.  On the return pass you work the stitches off the hook.  You don’t turn your work so the right side of the crochet is always facing you.
Here are some pictures to help you get a flavour of this technique. We used a normal Symfonie hook.

Work a foundation chain. 

Then put your hook through the second stitch of the chain and keep the yarn on your hook.  Repeat until you have worked all the chain stitches.  It is a good idea to work in to the back bumps of the chain to allow the foundation row to lie flatter.
Now you have a row of stitches on your hook.

To work the return pass (often called the standard or basic return pass) wrap the yarn around your hook and bring it through the first loop on your hook.

Then wrap the yarn around your hook and bring it back through two of the loops.  Repeat this last stage until you have worked all the stitches.  Now you have completed your Tunisian foundation row.

The next pass will work the vertical loops that you can see, keeping the loops on your hook.

Most patterns write the two passes as one row, so be careful to check before you start.

Tunisian crochet has a tendency to curl so here are some tips for a successful fabric from our friends at Simply Crochet.
  • ·      Use a hook larger than you usually would for the yarn you’re using, such as 5mm instead of 4mm for DK-weight yarn.
  • ·      Tighten up the first stitch of the forward pass because the tension tends to be looser on that side of the row.
  • ·      Blocking is essential
  • ·      Work an edging of double crochet stitches all the way around your finished fabric to help stabilise it

The pattern for these dishcloths by Poppy and Bliss is a great way to practise Tunisian crochet.  We love the way she puts colour together to turn an every day object into a riot of fun. Click here to go to the pattern on Ravelry.

 If you want to take your Tunisian crochet further and learn some more stitches this link will be useful

We’d love to see how you get on.