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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tunisian crochet-an overview

One stitch that I feel doesn't get enough attention is the tunisian stitch (also called the afghan stitch).  If you're unfamiliar with tunisian crochet, there is a great site for beginners here that covers the basics really well.

tunisian crochet hook with cable and stopper
In tunisian crochet, you work with a long crochet hook (the one I use has a cable attached to the end, with a stopper at the end of that) and load all your stitches on (like with knitting) and then work them off.  Sometimes when we crochet it can be confusing about which side of our work is the front and which is the back (sometimes it doesn't matter!), but with tunisian crochet, the front is always facing you.  You don't turn your work to go back across.  You can always tell which was is the right way!

There are different ways to create designs using tunisian crochet.  One is with different stitches. There are really only a few different tunisian stitches to learn.  See the link above for the different stitches used in tunisian crochet.   I recommend once you learn the basics, to check out and look through her tunisian crochet section.  She also has hundreds of free patterns to look through-not just tunisian (and they're all very good!).  She's one of my favorite designers.

afghan with cross stitched design
I made a graph for someone a short time ago and she sent me a photo of her finished afghan.  She used tunisian crochet to make the entire blanket in a solid color and then cross stitched the design on it in the yarn colors on the graph (thanks for the finished photo, Charlene, I love it!). This is a fun and simple way to incorporate color work into your projects without the hassle of changing colors during the crochet process.  Less chance of a tangled up mess occurring, too!   The graph for this Texas afghan, by the way, is available for sale from me.  Email me for details.  (It doesn't have to be made with this crochet stitch.😉)

Super Mario Brothers blanket
If you're comfortable with the tunisian simple stitch (usually the first stitch you learn) and ready to  move on to color changes, what fun you can have!  I graphed out a bunch of Super Mario Brothers characters for my son for an afghan for Christmas.   Unfortunately, he doesn't like "blankets with holes" as he calls afghans, so I used tunisian crochet to create this blanket for him.  Each character is in its own block, and then sewn to the block next to it. It forms a solid, squishy fabric without gaps between the stitches so I figured it would be perfect for him.  What I didn't think about was the back of the design.  With tunisian crochet, you don't cover the unused color with your working yarn like with tapestry crochet.  It hangs behind the work and gets picked up again later in the row when you need to switch back to that color.  This leaves a strand looped behind the work.   2 problems: 1. it looks ugly and 2. it catches your toes every time you move.  Solution?  I took an old sheet we didn't use anymore and sewed it to the back. Then I covered up the edges with quilt binding.

*designs do look a bit tall and thin when worked in tunisian simple stitch.  The stitch is taller than it is wide so it doesn't make a nice square like the graph square shows. I had to adjust some of my graphs to accommodate the nature of the stitch.

close up of design on block
A couple tips for the first time you use color work in your tunisian projects: 1. twist your yarns together once before changing colors. Otherwise, there WILL be a gap where the colors change. 2. give the unused yarn a little tug to firm up the stitches or it will be loose and baggy.  Not to tight though or it will warp the fabric a bit (look at the right side of the game controller in the close up picture.  See how it dips in? My fault.  Pulled too tight.  Don't do that.
 Have fun with your crochet!  Learning new stitches and trying new methods is a great way to improve yourself and your crochet as well as keeping it interesting.  I love learning new ways to crochet.  What is a stitch you've been wanting to try?

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