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Tunisian Crochet: Breaking Out of Ruts

What we now call "Tunisian Crochet" has been around for a long time under many different names. Early Tunisian projects tend to be pretty dense fabric. A lot of American crocheters and knitters learned this technique by the name of Afghan Crochet in the 1960's-70's and crocheted some extraordinary Tunisian afghans.

Last week I received a Tunisian Crochet stitch dictionary from my good friend Mary Beth Temple. It's 100% Tunisian stitch patterns, the first I've ever seen! You could say that the catch is that it's written in Japanese, but everything is charted in stitch symbols, and a separate section uses pictures to explain how to do each stitch. Try locating your own copy in Etsy, eBay, etc. by searching ISBN #9784529029285. You can see pages from the book via Google books: .

Once you've learned the introductory stitch, Tunisian Simple Stitch (Tss), how do you branch out from there? Many crocheters then learn the Tunisian Knit Stitch (Tks) and one of two ways to do the Tunisian Purl (Tps). All of these stitches tend to be taught as solid fabrics that would be great for a thermal wrap, coat or afghan. (Meaning, a yarn and crochet hook size are used for these stitches that naturally result in a dense, close-knit fabric.)

If you're in a Tunisian stitch rut, this stitch dictionary is an incredible resource! It uses the widest range of Tunisian stitches I've ever seen in one book. Not only that, they're shown in clear and logical stitch symbols.

If you're in the "rut" of getting afghan-like fabrics with Tunisian stitches (or just want your Tunisian to go light & lacy for the new year), this book can help....a little. (So please see my favorite stitch below!) Only about 25% of the stitch patterns are lacy or sort of lacy. As you can see on the cover, most are pretty solid stitch patterns.

Designers have their own favorite ways to freshen up their Tunisian. In the book, many of the stitch patterns were created by working the next row into the back 'bump' of the return pass horizontal 'bars.' That's not my thing because it slows me down; in contrast, I tend to use a lot of Tunisian Yarn Overs (Tyo) to add lacy holes, and I like to try to get the rows going on a diagonal bias or start in a corner. These eyelets don't appear in the book much. (Photo above shows Tyo eyelets + starting in the corner.)

Tried the Tunisian Yarn Over Yet?

I love swatching with this stitch! You can see a few experiments here, but I wish I could show you what I've designed for books coming out this year and next!!

Begin by doing some rows of plain Tunisian Simple Stitch (Tss) with a smooth yarn. Do a few Tss of a new row, then yarn over (wrap your crochet hook with the yarn once, like you would to begin a double crochet stitch), skip the next vertical bar that you would have worked into for a Tss, then Tss as usual for the rest of the row. When you do your return pass to work the loops off of the hook, treat that yarn over the same as if it's a Tss stitch. That's it! But....there's more.

  • Do 2 or 3 Tyo in a row (i.e., yarn over 2 or 3 times, and then skip that many stitches before resuming Tss for the rest of the row.) This makes a more dramatic eyelet.
  • In your next row, you can work into the Tyo any way you like. I like to insert the hook into the yarn over strand of the Tyo; it kind of looks like the line of a bell curve diagram if you're not crocheting too tightly.

If you have questions about this stitch, please let me know.

That's it for now! If you know someone who would enjoy this kind of newsletter, please forward this to them so that they can subscribe. (Subscribe: ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks!      --Vashti
Here Be Tunisian Eyelets
(simple stitch instructions at lower left)

I searched online for a link to a good Youtube video or photo tutorial for the Tyo stitch. I turned up nothing! If you know of a good link I'll add it to the next newsletter. It's an important stitch to know and I use it constantly. How could there be so little of in on the internet?
It's not difficult to do and you can probably understand my description at lower left. I love it because I can really pick up speed with it.

An unpublished variation of the Five Peaks Wrap, which is pictured at left.

I love the braided look of this, but so far, it doesn't look the same in other yarns.

I'm still playing with this--I want to add another kind of stitch.

My first all-over Tunisian eyelet pattern: Weightless Tunisian Shawl
Links I Like
Speaking of Mary Beth, her Getting Loopy crochet podcast began a new year of episodes 3 days ago. I've been tuning in to her show for years! You can listen to episodes at her site:
Please consider donating to cover the costs of hosting it at BlogTalkRadio; she has raised most of it and is only $100 short.

DesigningVashti News
The "Five Peaks Shawl" at left was published in Interweave Crochet magazine last March, and is now downloadable from the Interweave Store. My updated version will be available at my own site this Spring.

The Slip Stitch Sweater (mentioned in the Ribbing Issue, #9): Due to my hardware glitch, I can't upload photos of the nearly-finished sweater this week.

I overhauled the features in the right column of my main blog, which I haven't done since 2006! You can take a look here:

I have 8 new patterns that only need this or that before I can publish them! And another 5 behind them. I'm getting back into the swing of pattern writing again after houseguests & holidays.

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