Tunisian Crochet: Beyond the Basics
I know that we aren’t all fans of Tunisian crochet, but if you’re like me and love it, once you’ve mastered the basics, you start wondering what’s next. It’s a technique packed with possibilities. As soon as I grasped the concept of Tunisian simple stitch (Tss) and Tunisian knit stitch (Tks), I was ready to learn what’s possible beyond the basics.
The New Tunisian Crochet author Dora Ohrenstein devotes an entire chapter of her book to more advanced Tunisian crochet techniques. Let’s crack open the pages of the book and take a peek at some of the awesome things we can aspire to work with our hooks.
Working with Double-Ended Hooks
Putting hooks on both ends of a rod offers some very interesting possibilities in Tunisian crochet. The basic principle involves using two balls of yarn in different colors and, unlike normal Tunisian, turning the work for the return pass. This method produces a two-color fabric that does not have the usual right and wrong sides of Tunisian crochet. The unused color is brought up along the side edge to be picked up again when needed. This technique is also known as Crochenit.
In its most basic form, it is worked as follows:
Chain any number.
ROW 1: With color A, work basic foundation row. Rtn: Turn hook and slide all lps to opposite end, pick up color B, work basic rtn pass.
ROW 2: With color B, Tss across. Rtn: Turn hook and slide all lps to opposite end, pick up color A, work basic rtn pass.
ROW 3: With color A, Tss across. Rtn: Turn hook and slide all lps to opposite end, pick up color B, work basic rtn pass.
Rep Rows 2 and 3 for patt.
The resulting fabric resembles knitted garter stitch but is different on each side of the work. In fact, this is considered by some to be another technique independent from, though related to, Tunisian crochet, and there are stitch dictionaries of patterns just for double-ended crochet hooks.
Double-ended hooks also make it easy to work in the round.
Making a Circle with Short Rows
In standard crochet, it’s simple to work in the round, but in Tunisian it’s more of a challenge, since the loops of the forward pass are kept on the hook. At the time of writing [this book], a few adventurers have been experimenting with Tunisian in the round using a cabled hook, most notably Jennifer Hansen (Stitch Diva), whose tutorial video can be seen on her website, www.stitchdiva.com. Even with this strategy, bringing the first and last stitch of the round together is tricky. However, there is another way of making a circle, and that is by using short rows.
Short rows have fewer stitches than the rows before and after them. They are placed where extra fabric is needed, and the row immediately after is worked first into the short row and then into the full row that precedes it. To make circles, short rows are used to create wedge-shaped pieces, one built on top of another, until they make, if not exactly a circle, then at least a hexagon.
There are two ways to create such wedges. One starts with the full stitch count on the first row and decreases on each subsequent row. The other starts with two stitches and increases on each subsequent row until the full stitch count is reached. In both methods, to make larger circles, begin with a longer starting chain. Although the samples shown are made with Tss, other Tunisian stitches can be used to the same effect.
Colorwork in Tunisian
The two passes in Tunisian crochet provide great opportunities for color work. The variegated swatch at left below shows a marvelous interplay of shades as the color changes through the forward and return passes.
Any Tunisian stitch pattern can be enhanced or dramatized by using two or more colors. To avoid cutting yarn, use each color for a forward and return pass so that the yarn ends up at the same edge where it began. Then use the second color for a forward and return pass, and then change color by picking up the first color again. You’ll be changing color at the right edge of the work. Another option is to begin a color on a return pass, then work a forward pass with it, then use the new color for the next return and forward passes. With this method you’ll be changing color at the left edge of the work.
You can see this strategy in the swatch at right below, showing the interplay between a multi-strand brown/gold yarn with a bulky black. The black yarn was begun on a return pass, so it has brown/gold vertical bars running over it. On the next row, the reverse happens: brown/gold with black vertical bars. As long as you use each yarn for a forward and return pass, no yarn will be cut and there will be no extra ends to weave in.
Stranded colorwork is also a rich source of creative options in Tunisian crochet. This technique involves switching colors within the forward or return pass, stranding the unused color along the wrong side of the work. To change color on a forward pass, drop the old color on the wrong side, pick up the new color, and work a stitch. To change color on a return pass, switch yarns one stitch before the color change appears on the forward pass. Carry the unused strands along the wrong side of the work, neither too tightly nor too loosely.
Sample Practice Pattern
Sample Stranded Colorwork Pattern
Using colors A and B.
With A, ch 27.
Work basic foundation row.
ROWS 2–27: Following chart for color changes, Tss in each st across, draw up lp in last bar, work basic return pass.
LAST ROW: With A, Tslst in each bar across.
My hands are itching to grab some yarn and try out these techniques! Did you know you can even entrelac crochet using Tunisian? You can! That and more are explained in detail in Dora’s book as well. We’ve bundled the eBook and her fantastic video download into one great package. Grab yourself a copy today, and try these new techniques along with me.
Editorial Director, Books
Take your Tunisian crochet beyond the basics!