Monday, April 10, 2017

Get Started with Tunisian Crochet


Introduction to Tunisian Crochet

Tunisian or afghan crochet may seem like a mysterious technique that's not for the faint-of-heart.  But really, it's pretty easy.

This type of crochet consists of using a hook that looks a lot like a knitting needle, and working back and forth across the front of the work.  You never turn it.

Tunisian crochet is done in 2-row sets.  The first row puts loops on the long shaft of the hook, working right to left (if you're right-handed).  The second row works the loops off, left to right.  Then you do it again.

The standard Tunisian stitch, also known as the afghan stitch, creates vertical bars in the work.  New rows are made by working in those bars.

The Hook

Afghan-Crochet-Hooks


You'll need a Tunisian crochet hook, which looks like a cross between a crochet hook and a knitting needle.  There's a hook on one end, and the other end has a blocker on it to stop the loops from sliding off.  Some Tunisian hooks have a cable attached to the end, so you can accommodate very long rows.

Choose a hook size that corresponds to the yarn manufacturer's recommendation, or a size or two larger.  Traditional Tunisian crochet works up tightly, so you don't want to go smaller.

For this tutorial, you won't need a double-ended Tunisian hook.  They're made for circular Tunisian crochet.  If double-ended is all you've got, there's a way to rig the hook so it will work for flat crochet.  Keep reading.

You can adapt a regular crochet hook by winding a rubber band tightly around the shaft near the flat end, to act as a blocker.  Just be sure your rubber band is put on tightly enough to not fall off while you work. This doesn't leave much room for your loops, but it'll work in a pinch--especially for gauge swatches.  This trick also works for double-ended hooks.

The Yarn

Start with yarn that matches up with your crochet hook size.  Later, you can experiment with thinner yarns or non-stretchy fibers like cotton.


Afghan-Crochet-Cast-On-Hook


Tunisian Stitch: How to Do It       U.S. crochet terminology

Base Chain
Chain desired number of stitches.

Base Row 1
Start in 2nd chain from hook, [insert hook into chain, pull yarn through, and leave loop on hook], repeat to end. You'll have the same number of loops on the hook as the number of chains you made for the base chain.

Base Row 2
Ch 1, [pull yarn through both the new loop and next loop on hook], repeat to end, ch 1.  Only 1 loop is left on hook.

Main Row 1
Skip over first vertical bar at the end,[insert hook into next vertical bar, pull yarn through the bar and onto hook], repeat to end.  Be sure to work the final vertical bar at the end of the row, next to the end chain.

Main Row 2 (same as Base Row 2)
Ch 1, [pull yarn through both the new loop and the next loop on hook], repeat to end, ch 1.  Only 1 loop left on hook.

Repeat Main Rows 1 & 2 to desired length.

Tunisian Stitch: Photo Tutorial       U.S. crochet terminology

Base Chain
Afghan Stitch - Base Chain
Make as many chains as you want stitches to be in each row.

Base Row 1
Afghan Stitch - Starting Base Row 1
 Starting in the second chain from the hook, [insert the hook into the top of the chain, pull a loop of the working yarn through, and leave the loop on the hook], repeat to end. You'll have the same number of loops on the hook as the number of chains you made for the base chain.

Afghan Stitch - Cast On, End of Base Row 1
This is sometimes called "casting-on."

Base Row 2
Afghan Stitch - Starting Base Row 2

Chain 1, [pull a loop of the working yarn through both the new loop and the next loop on the hook], repeat to end, chain 1.  There should be only 1 loop left on the hook.

This is sometimes called "casting-off."

Afghan Stitch - Cast Off, End of Base Row 2
Looking at your work, you can see a series of vertical bars going down the row.  It may help to give the row a stretch end-to-end, to straighten up the bars.

Main Row 1
Afghan Stitch - Starting Main Row 1
 Skip over the first vertical bar at the end by the hook, [insert the hook into the next vertical bar, pull a loop of the working yarn through the bar and onto the hook], repeat to end.  The final vertical bar is at the very end of the row, with the end chain.

Main Row 2
(same as Base Row 2)
Afghan Stitch - End of Main Row 2
Chain 1, [pull a loop of the working yarn through both the new loop and the next loop on the hook], repeat to end, chain 1.  There should be only 1 loop left on the hook.

Repeat Main Rows 1 - 2 to desired length.

Upper Edge

For a neat, uniform edge on your final row, skip over the first vertical bar and make a full single crochet stitch in each remaining bar, leaving only the newly made loop on the hook - no extra loops this time.

You Might Have a Few Surprise Problems


Most standard Tunisian stitches have some problems: the edges curl, the work sometimes slants, and the resulting fabric can be very stiff.

Here are a few things to try.
  • Use a larger-than-usual hook, 3-5 sizes larger than recommended on the yarn label.
  • Try thinner yarn.
  • Use relaxed, less springy yarn, like cotton instead of wool.
  • Do not work tightly.
  • Be sure to skip over the first vertical bar in each cast-on row (main row 1).
  • Don't miss the last vertical bar for your last stitch in a casting-on row.  It can be hidden with the end-chain.
  • Crochet a border around your work.

You can find additional information on Tunisian crochet here:

Tunisian Purl Stitch Tutorial
   how to crochet the Tunisian purl stitch
How to Stop Crying Over Tunisian Crochet
    troubleshooting Tunisian crochet


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