10 Things I Hate About Tunisian Crochet
When I was first learning Tunisian Crochet (also known as the Afghan stitch), I was very vocal about my dislike of it. Below I’ve included a bit of how my conversations went with Susanna Tobais, the project editor at Interweave.
While I hated the technique, Susanna loved it. Thankfully I stuck with it and I’m happy to share my tips and tricks for making Tunisian fun and enjoyable.
1. Tunisian crochet creates a fabric with a bias.
Susanna’s response: Your response sounds biased to me. Have you tried relocating the stitches to counteract the bias?
Dana’s trick: Tunisian crochet fabric can slant, or have a bias. The easiest solution is to block the work. You can also use different stitches or insert the hook in different parts of the stitch to eliminate bias. Use swatches to identify what works and what doesn’t.
2. The first stitch is too loose.
Susanna’s response: You’re getting too relaxed with your crochet—try to maintain an even tension. Also, an edging will cover the loose stitches.
Dana’s trick: You have two options: one, pull the first stitch tight and work the rest of the row as normal (which is what I do), or two, work every stitch in the row a little loosely so that they have the same height as the first stitch.
3. The last stitch is too tight.
Susanna’s response: Now you’re too tense—loosen up a little. And remember that an edging covers a multitude of issues, even yours.
Dana’s trick: Work the first stitch of the return pass looser than the other stitches you work off your hook.
4.The fabric is too dense.
Susanna’s response: Now you’re just being insulting. There are lots of Tunisian stitch patterns that turn out lacy.
Dana’s trick: Because a chain is being worked through each row, the fabric will be thick. Use a crochet hook several times bigger than what the yarn label recommends (this will take some of the bulk out of the fabric). A lot of lacy Tunisian projects use thin yarn and larger hooks and are blocked to create beautiful openwork (to see a great example of this technique in action, check out the Shattered Quartz Shawl by Juliette Bezold in Interweave Crochet Winter 2017).
5. There are a limited number stitch patterns.
Susanna’s response: From density to limitations, wow, you really don’t like this technique. Don’t be afraid to combine the stitches to create something new.
Dana’s trick: Tunisian actually has more options than crochet because it can use both Tunisian stitches and crochet stitches. First learn to work and identify Tunisian, then mix and match that technique with traditional crochet for endless stitch pattern possibilities.
6. There’s a big learning curve.
Susanna’s response: Only if you’re using cable hooks! But in all seriousness, once you learn how to get the stitches on the hook and work them off, the rest will come.
Dana’s trick: Everything takes practice. If you already know how to crochet, then the learning curve for Tunisian is actually shorter than the curve for learning other fiber arts. With chaining and tension under your belt, it’s really just a matter of learning where to insert your hook and understanding what the different stitches look like. (In my defense, this complaint was more about me wanting to have it all figured out after watching a three-minute video than the learning curve being too long.)
7. You have to buy special hooks.
Susanna’s response: And you wouldn’t buy additional hooks normally? Find a pattern you like, buy one hook, and give Tunisian a chance!
Dana’s trick: A set of Tunisian cable hooks actually works well for both standard crochet and Tunisian: Use the hook without the cable attached for traditional crochet. Investing in one full set of Tunisian hooks makes it easy to jump back and forth between the two crafts.
8. It rolls like no crochet should ever roll.
Susanna’s response: Some of us like to rock while others like to roll. Try using a larger hook at the beginning to circumvent the roll so your Tunisian will rock.
Dana’s trick: In addition to what Susanna suggested above, you can add stitches to the fabric that counteract the roll. If your fabric is made with Tunisian simple stitch or Tunisian knit stitch, try adding a few rows at the beginning and/or end with reverse Tunisian simple stitch.
9. It’s pretending to be knitting, but it’s not.
Susanna’s response: Think of it as a hybrid.At least you can still use a hook instead of two needles, right?
Dana’s trick: To me, knitting and crochet are not in competition—I am an equal opportunity stitcher. However, I do believe Tunisian crochet is best categorized as crochet; after all, we use the same motions to hook yarn, create yarnovers, and work yarn off the hook in Tunisian as in traditional crochet. Tunisian simply gives us a wider variety of fabrics we can crochet. The fact that some of the stitches look like knitting shows us just how diverse crochet can be.
10. Working in the round is a pain.
Susanna’s response: Everything can be a pain at one point or another. You have to be able to walk in a straight line before you can run in circles. Get used to working in rows first and then try Tunisian in the round as a challenge!
Dana’s trick: There’s no easy trick for this one other than practice. Find a good teacher or video and crochet a project that you find particularly enticing. Don’t be afraid to try it just because it’s new. You may find you like working in the round better than all other types of Tunisian crochet! You’ll never know unless you give it a try.
Why I Love Tunisian Crochet
My journey to loving Tunisian actually took three separate attempts over the course of five years. And if you want to know the truth, it wasn’t until after I started working at Interweave that I came to fully appreciate and enjoy this technique.
I attribute my change of heart to three things: the wisdom and patience of friends who love Tunisian (thank you Susanna Tobias, Marcy Smith, and Toni Rexroat), great instruction (thank you Dora Ohrenstein and Lily Chin), and beautiful patterns (thank you Interweave).
Dora Ohrenstein’s book The New Tunisian Crochet and her video Interweave Crochet Presents: Tunisian Crochet with Dora Ohrenstein got me started and gave me the skills I needed to master this technique. And Lily Chin is keeping me up at night wanting to Tunisian crochet in the round with her inspiring video Two-Color Tunisian Crochet In-The-Round.(The next project on my list is Lily’s Two Hearts Afghan from Interweave Crochet Home 2015. I’m super excited to work Tunisian crochet in the round! I didn’t see that coming.)
If you’re looking for great new designs for Tunisian crochet, check out the Winter 2017 issue of Interweave Crochet. You can learn to crochet a mitered square, master lacy openwork, and try your hand at a woven-looking fabric You’ll also find patterns for five lovely accessories and garments made in Tunisian.
Are you ready to turn that Tunisian frown upside down? Grab some yarn, get a hook, download a great instructional video, and dive in. You’re going to love it!