When my grandmother passed away two years ago and I inherited her craft suppies, along with them were some very long crochet hooks. At first I thought they were knitting needles because they were long, straight, aluminum and had a stopper on the end – but the other end was a crochet hook?
They were Tunisian hooks, otherwise known as afghan hooks, and they’re used for Tunisian crochet – the bastard child of knitting and crochet. When working Tunisian projects, you use the hook end to pick up stitches by pulling up loops, just like crochet – but you keep the stitches open on the long part, just like knitting. Then, when you get to the end of the row (or “forward pass”), you essentially crochet a chain through the open stitches on your needle (the “return pass”). Every row has these two elements, the forward and return passes, and with them one can create really unique netted-looking stitches, knit-looking stitches, that form a dense fabric that also drapes really well.
My first actual Tunisian project started when I bought some gorgeous, hand-dyed yarn from Weird Sisters Wool (go check them out – they do lots of nerdy-inspired colorways!) to make a cowl. My original plan was to just moss-stitch a tube but I had a really tough time getting a good gauge and stretch, so I decided to give Tunisian a shot. And boy, was that a good idea! I just made a Tunisian simple stitch rectangle (still needs to be blocked and seamed) and it really shows off the unique color of my specialty yarn. The yarn had two main colors and it gave a perfect mix of color pooling and pulling one color through another.
Then I decided I wanted a bigger gauge hook so I could work with worsted weight yarns. One of the main things about Tunisian is that it presents unique tension issues – because you don’t turn your work, the stitch tends to give tension to only the front or back of the work, causing your fabric to curl. The best solution is to use a hook 2-3 sizes bigger than you usually would, and since worsted weight typically calls for a 5mm hook I decided to get a 6.5mm straight hook from Furls – which my fiance purchased for me for Valentine’s Day!
I decided to get some cotton yarn and try out a dishcloth. I made one in about an hour and thought…. well….. now I need to make a million. Tunisian is perfect for dishcloths. There’s so many unique stitches that give a texture that would be perfect for scrubbing dishes or for skincare!
I learned three stitches in a weekend using tutorials from TLYarnCrafts – the queen of Tunisian. When COVID is over I plan on doing markets, so I figured a good small-ish thing for the market table would be cloth sets. I’m stocking sets of three, half with loops for hanging, half without, in three-color sets. I’m using Lion Brand 24/7 Cotton Yarn for them and pairing colors like so – ecru (cream white), fuchsia and jade green, and gold, taupe and lilac. Within the three colors, I’m also using a different stitch for each – honeycomb stitch, lattice stitch and smock stitch.
My other current endeavor in Tunisian is a triangle shawl, again by TLYarnCrafts, called the Loveland Shawl. I got myself a set of corded hooks and grabbed a cake of Hobbii Twister from my stash and got it going and that’s what’s really feeding my addiction to Tunisian because it really feels like I’m knitting – but I’m not! Side note – I will write a separate post about my shawl progress as well as corded hook reviews.
If you see Tunisian projects popping up everywhere on Instagram and Ravelry, it’s definitely becoming more and more popular. I definitely recommend giving it a try as it fulfills my need to have different things going on to break the monotony. And I can’t knit to save my life, so having a craft that can produce projects like this is game-changing for me.
Hope everyone is staying safe and warm!