LEARN TUNISIAN CRO­CHET STITCHES & TECH­NIQUES

Go a step be­yond the ba­sics with Tunisian cro­chet stitches.

Crochet! - - Contents - By Dora Ohren­stein

Learn Tunisian lace with this easy-to-fol­low tu­to­rial.

Tunisian cro­chet can add so much to our cro­chet vo­cab­u­lary, al­low­ing us to ex­plore many dif­fer­ent stitches and cre­ate a va­ri­ety of fab­rics suit­able for home items as well as gar­ments of all kinds. To­day I want to in­tro­duce three of my fa­vorite Tunisian stitches.

To re­view the ba­sics of Tunisian cro­chet: There are two “passes” re­quired for each row of Tunisian—the for­ward pass and the re­turn pass. On the for­ward pass, we “pick up” loops in the row, leav­ing one loop on the hook for each stitch made. On the re­turn pass, we “work off the loops” (see il­lus­tra­tion) that are on the hook. In fact, the re­turn pass is ac­tu­ally a se­ries of chains run­ning through the loops on the hook. The for­ward pass cre­ates ver­ti­cal bars on the work’s sur­face, one in front and one just be­hind it. The re­turn pass cre­ates a long hor­i­zon­tal bar that runs all along the row.

The cu­ri­ous thing about Tunisian cro­chet is that we can get dif­fer­ent looks on the fab­ric sur­face by in­sert­ing the hook in var­i­ous ways on the for­ward pass. That’s why it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand what’s meant by front and back ver­ti­cal bar. In Tunisian sim­ple stitch the hook is in­serted in the front ver­ti­cal bar, and in Tunisian Knit Stitch the hook is in­serted be­tween the front and back ver­ti­cal bar.

In most cases the very first row in Tunisian is a set- up row where you pull up a loop in each chain of the foun­da­tion chain. I pre­fer to pull up the back bar in each chain (see il­lus­tra­tion) just as I do in reg­u­lar cro­chet. Some peo­ple like to pull up that loop in the back bump in­stead; nei­ther way is bet­ter than the other, it’s just a pref­er­ence. Try them both and see which you like bet­ter! Un­like reg­u­lar cro­chet, there is no turn­ing chain in Tunisian, so you al­ways make the num­ber of chains equal to the num­ber of stitches needed in your first row.

The Tunisian baby blan­ket I de­signed for this is­sue uses the bas­ket- weave stitch, which some peo­ple know from reg­u­lar cro­chet. Bas­ket weave, what­ever tech­nique one is us­ing, de­pends upon con­trast on the sur­face. If we ar­range these con­trast­ing sur­faces one above the other, it re­sults in the “woven” look. On this swatch, the con­trast is achieved by us­ing Tunisian Knit Stitch and Tunisian Purl Stitch, al­ter­nat­ing them in small squares. As you can see, it ap­pears that the knit squares are woven un­der and over the purl squares. On the blan­ket the squares are larger, but the prin­ci­ple is the same. Be­fore mak­ing this swatch (or the blan­ket), some prac­tice with these two stitches is in or­der— each has their lit­tle quirks.

A cru­cial fac­tor in any Tunisian work is to choose the right size hook— a large one! Tunisian cro­chet has a ten­dency to cre­ate dense fab­ric, and the best way to counter that ten­dency is to use a larger hook than you use in reg­u­lar cro­chet. So, for ex­am­ple, if you are work­ing with a worsted- weight yarn and usu­ally use an I/9/5.5mm hook, go up two hook sizes when do­ing Tunisian cro­chet to a K/101/2/6.5mm hook. If you nor­mally choose an F/5/ 3.75mm hook for sock yarn, use an H/8/5mm when work­ing it in Tunisian. This will greatly im­prove your fab­ric, lend­ing it the de­sir­able qual­ity we call drape.

The three swatches shown on page 16 are all made with Ber­roco Week­end, which is a worsted- weight yarn. On the bas­ket- weave swatch I used a size I hook, and for the other two a size J. Con­se­quently, the first swatch has denser fab­ric, just right for a blan­ket, while the other two are more fluid and would work beau­ti­fully for a gar­ment.

Tunisian Knit Stitch ( TKS) is one of the most pop­u­lar be­cause of its

re­sem­blance to knit­ting, but the Tunisian stitch cre­ates fab­ric that is sub­stan­tially thicker than ac­tual knit fab­ric. It’s the re­turn row in Tunisian cro­chet that adds the extra layer ab­sent in knit­ting. When we make Tunisian Knit Stitches, in­sert­ing the hook be­tween the front and back ver­ti­cal bar of the stitch, we push that whole re­turn row to the back of the work. This not only makes the fab­ric thicker, but as there is more fab­ric on the back than on the front, the fab­ric tends to curl. But don’t worry, there is a cure!

To make the Tunisian Knit Stitch, in­sert your hook be­tween the front and back ver­ti­cal bar of the next stitch, yarn over and pull yarn through (see il­lus­tra­tion). That loop you just made will tend to fall in front of the work, but I rec­om­mend you pull it up, nice and loose, so that it sits atop the row be­fore, not in front of it.

Do this for each Tunisian Knit Stitch you make. When work­ing the re­turn pass, it’s equally im­por­tant to work loosely. As men­tioned ear­lier, these are chains that cre­ate a hor­i­zon­tal bar through the loops on your hook. Rather than mak­ing each chain tight around the hook, pull each one out a bit. Work­ing loosely on both passes is the best way to en­sure you end up with re­laxed, fluid fab­ric.

For Tunisian Purl Stitch ( TPS), the yarn is brought to the front of the work in­stead of be­hind, un­like the usual po­si­tion in cro­chet. Bring your hook be­hind the yarn and in­sert it in the front ver­ti­cal bar of the next stitch (see il­lus­tra­tion). For the yarn over, the yarn should come from be­hind and over the top of the hook, to­ward you. Af­ter mak­ing the yarn over, pull the yarn through the front ver­ti­cal bar. If that pull- through is dif­fi­cult, it’s help­ful to hold the yarn in place with the thumb of the yarn- hold­ing hand.

While Tunisian Knit Stitch tends to be tight, the purl wants to be loose— a dilemma! But re­mem­ber, you are in con­trol of the ten­sion on all your stitches and can tighten or loosen up ac­cord­ingly as you work. As you make your purl stitches, give a lit­tle tug on the yarn af­ter work­ing each stitch— but not too much! Tug just enough to make the stitch look neat. If you tighten up these purl stitches too much, they will not match the size of the Tunisian Knit Stitches.

Re­mem­ber that in Tunisian cro­chet, the loop on your hook at the end of the re­turn pass is the first stitch of the next for­ward pass. That means you never ac­tu­ally make the first stitch, it al­ready ex­ists. This loop that starts each row has a ten­dency to en­large, which in turn can make the whole right edge of your work a bit too big. To avoid that, give a lit­tle tug on the yarn be­fore mov­ing on to the next stitch on the for­ward pass. At the end of the for­ward pass, al­ways in­sert your hook un­der two loops at the edge of the work (see il­lus­tra­tion). You can see them best by turn­ing the left edge to­ward you and find­ing two loops that cross each other. In­sert your hook just to the right of these two loops. Left­ies will, of course, look at the right edge and in­sert the hook to the left of the two loops. The pur­pose of do­ing the last stitch this way is to cre­ate a firm and sta­ble edge. If, how­ever, you find this con­fus­ing or dif­fi­cult, it’s not cru­cial, so please don’t fret. Once you be­come more adept with Tunisian cro­chet, you can al­ways add this el­e­ment of fi­nesse.

Here are in­struc­tions for a Tunisian bas­ket- weave swatch. Please don’t worry too much about even stitches when you begin, but as you con­tinue, you will see how much ten­sion is re­quired for the two stitches and how best to make them match in size. An­other point to con­sider: You may find that it’s hard to keep track of how many rows you’ve made, es­pe­cially be­cause the way you in­sert on the work­ing row is cre­at­ing the knit or purl on the row be­low. In this swatch we start with a set- up row, then work 5 rows be­gin­ning with Tunisian Knit Stitches, then the next 5 rows be­gin­ning with Tunisian purls. Mark the start of the new se­quence with a stitch marker or short length of yarn at the start­ing edge to help you stay on track.

On all the swatches here, for the very last row of work we make Tunisian slip stitches to cre­ate a nice fin­ish at the top edge. To re­main in pat­tern, we in­sert the hook in the same way we did in the pre­vi­ous row, but as we pull up a loop for each stitch, in­stead of leav­ing it on the hook, we pull the loop through the next stitch and the loop on the hook. In this way we work off all the loops on the hook on the for­ward pass and don’t need a re­turn pass.

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