About 4 yrs ago when I really started to commit to learning to knit (beyond a garter st washcloth), I scoured the internet for every bit of information I could. Of course, I came across blogs, forums, and websites that also mentioned Tunisian Crochet. One website, Stitch Diva Studios, sparked my interest. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Hansen on my then LIVE webshow, Stitch & Dish. Immediately I went out and bought the Tunisian Hooks and started to "practice." But as I was knitting more, I started to get more proficient at knitting and the Tunisian Crochet got put away.
Recently, I got a Craftsy Newletter announcing that Jennifer Hansen (of all people) would be teaching a Tunisian Crochet class on Craftsy! Of course I signed up immediately! I ordered some ChiaoGoo Tunisian Hooks and grabbed some Naturally Caron Spa yarn that was sitting in my stash and got on my merry way. My first attempt at the washcloth was, well, riddled with errors.
In this spa cloth project, we learned Tunisian Simple St (TSS), Tunisian Knit St (TKS) and Tunisian Reverse St (TRS). It's not hard to see all of my boo-boos. BUT, I went on to use the same yarn and create another spa cloth that turned out wonderfully! (Practice makes perfect - When the new spa cloth is finished blocking, I'll create a post to show y'all!) Next up, Jennifer will teach the class how to make a Multi-Garment, which has really become her signature thing. She loves to create knit and crochet patterns for garments that can be worn in numerous ways. And I love that she created one for Tunisian Crochet!
So right now you're probably asking, WHY is it I should like Tunisian Crochet again? To answer that question, let me talk a bit about it. Tunisian Crochet became popular during the Victorian Era and was seen in numerous needlework books. It utilizes a very long crochet hook to make a dense fabric. Tunisian Crochet, also known as Afghan Crochet, Afghan St, or Tricot Crochet, can mimic knitted fabric as well as create a fabric that looks woven. Initially, the Tunisian Simple Stitch was used to create entire afghans that could later be cross stitched on. The TSS creates a grid-like fabric, which reminds me of a kind of mashup of knitting and filet crochet. Women would create these very dense afghans from the TSS and then cross stitch beautiful flowers or nature scenes on them.
Like traditional crochet, you begin with a slip knot and chain the amount of stitches required in the pattern. However, the amount of chains will typically be the amount of stitches you produce. In traditional crochet, if you chained 40 and then performed sc, you'd end up with 39 st. In Tunisian Crochet, if you ch 40, you'll have 40 st. You then complete a foundation row and begin. Unlike traditional crochet, Tunisian Crochet uses 2 passes to create 1 row. These are called the Forward Pass and the Return Pass. During the forward pass, you create the actual stitch and accumulate LIVE stitches on your hook. During the return pass, you actually, in a sense, bind off those live stitches and secure the pattern. Unlike either knitting or crochet, the right side of the work is ALWAYS facing you. You never turn the work.
Although traditionally Tunisian Crochet was used to produce dense and sturdy fabrics, many modern designers are creating beautiful Tunisian Lace thanks to the artisans creating ever-larger sized hooks. So WHY should you love Tunisian Crochet - because it's right up our alley. You've already got the yarn, add something new to your repertoire. More and more designers today are mixing the fiber arts to produce even more beautiful and functional designs. Knitters are adding crochet to their designs. Crocheters are adding a little knitting to their designs. Both knitters and crocheters are adding embroidery and needle felting to their designs. And now, Tunisian Crochet is being added.
Some of my favorite contemporary designers of tunisian crochet garments are:
I will leave you with a simple video tutorial for the Foundation Row and the Tunisian Simple Stitch.