Tunisian crochet is a type of crochet that holds multiple loops on the hook in a style similar to what is done in knitting. It differs from knitting in that it uses a crochet hooks, not knitting needles. The result is a fabric that is beautifully textured using a technique that combines the best of knitting and crochet. Tunisian crochet is also commonly known as Afghan Crochet. It has been called by a variety of other names including Shepherd’s Knitting, Railroad Knitting, and Cro-hooking.
When working Tunisian crochet in the round, you will need a double-ended crochet hook. There are straight ones, which look like knitting needles with the head of a crochet hook on either end. But there are also circular ones with a cord running between two crochet hooks.
Since this craft is also called Afghan crochet, you will sometimes see these hooks called Afghan hooks. It doesn’t mean that they’re only used for making blankets but rather than they are used for this particular technique of crochet!
Casting on in Tunisian Crochet
That’s what makes Tunisian crochet different; and this is what is called “casting on”. You work all the way across the row back to the left side. In traditional crochet, you would then turn your work, right? But that’s not what you do in Tunisian crochet. You still have all of those loops on the hook that you have to finish, and you do that by working back across the row, left to right, without turning the work. This is “casting off”.
Each “row” in Tunisian crochet consists of both of the parts described above – pulling up the loops as you work right-to-left and finishing the loops as you work left-to-right. Together, these two parts make up one row. Crochet designers have different ways of expressing this in their written patterns. One of the most common methods is for the pattern to name the row (such as R1), give the instructions for the “forward pass” (the number of loops to pull up right-to-left) and then give the instructions for the “reverse pass” where you work left-to-right to complete the row. In this example, the next instructions would be for Row 2, starting with the forward pass and ending with the reverse pass. You can see an example of this type of instruction in the Trip Around the World Throw. So, each row in Tunisian crochet consists first of “casting on”, right-to-left, and then “casting off”, left-to-right.
How to do Tunisian Crochet Basic Stitches
The basic stitches in standard crochet are things like single crochet, double crochet, etc. The basic stitches in Tunisian crochet are a little bit different. The most important thing to understand is where you will insert your hook. In traditional crochet, we talk about “inserting through the loop” but in Tunisian crochet, we talk about working through the bars. Most Tunisian crochet stitches will be worked around the vertical bars, there is a type that is worked in the horizontal bar.
So, what does the “bar” refer to? When you look at the row that you’re working stitches into, you’ll see a loop, and there are two parts to the loop, these are called the bars. You will begin your work with a foundation chain and work into that. Once you’ve completed your first row, you’ll see that this work creates vertical bars. These are the bars that you’re going to work your stitches into for the rest of the project.
When you look closely, you’ll see that each vertical is a loop, with one vertical bar in front of the work and one towards the back. This is what creates the denseness of Tunisian crochet fabric. And it also allows you to create different types of stitches, depending on which bars you work into!
How to Crochet the Tunisian Foundation Row
Basically, when you work Tunisian crochet, you’ll follow these steps:
Crochet a chain (the way that you normally do).
Insert your hook into the second chain from the hook.
Yarn over and pull up a loop.
Leave that loop on your Tunisian crochet hook.
Repeat steps 2 – 4 across the row. This is your “forward pass.”
At the end of the row, do not turn the work. Yarn over and draw through one loop only.
Yarn over and draw through two loops.
Repeat step 7 until there is only one loop left on the hook.
Those steps create your foundation row. Then you’ll see your verticals, and you will proceed to make different types of stitches in the remaining rows of the work.
Below are some tips and tricks for Tunisian crochet! Below that you will find a video on the complete basics of this craft.
Tips & Tricks
- Cables can be used for holding lots of loops when crocheting very long rows.
- You skip the “edge” vertical and begin with what is technically the second front vertical.
- Remember that each row consists of two parts – the forward pass (worked right-to-left if you are right-handed), in which the loops are picked up and held on your hook and the reverse pass (left-to-right), in which the stitches are worked back off the loop. There is no “turning the work” in Tunisian crochet.
- You always skip the first vertical bar when you work the forward pass in crochet. You begin the loops with the second vertical bar.
- Note that when you work the forward pass, it can sometimes be difficult to see the final vertical bar.
- Watch your tension; working too tight in Tunisian crochet usually results in the work curling!
- In general, items made using Tunisian crochet are denser, thicker and heavier than those made with traditional crochet.
- Remember that you’re holding loops on your hook, like with knitting. This means that if you set your work down mid-row then the loops could fall off and the work can unravel. Don’t forget about using stitch markers!
- You can work small sections of Tunisian crochet on a regular hook as long as it doesn’t have a wide thumb grip. Tunisian crochet hooks come in varying lengths, such as 10″ and 14″.