Intro to Tunisian, Part 2
Welcome to the next part of the Introduction to Tunisian series: Intro to Tunisian, Part 2. This post is a continuation of the first one and will cover how Tunisian crochet works.
So How Does Tunisian Crochet Work?
Tunisian crochet is done much like knitting, gathering up loops and then working them off on the return pass (more on this in a bit). You will never turn your work, which will seem odd at first. For most stitches, you won’t chain up at the beginning either. However, you do chain up at the end of each forward pass. You’ll see what I mean in a moment. For now, I want you to understand how this is going to look while you’re making your first square.
You will always be looking at the front of your project, but this means something else: your work is going to curl from the bottom and the top inward. Nothing you can do about it, that is just the way Tunisian crochet works. Because you don’t turn your work, the stitching pulls the work in towards itself, rather than getting that balance that is created when turning your work. You can combat this by putting clips along the bottom edge like I have in this photo.
I have used clips to hold down the bottom edge of this square of TSS
Yarn and Hook Sizing
You might be interested to know that the hook size you need for the type of yarn you’re using is not what you think it is. The aran/worsted weight ball band might say to use a 5mm hook (H8), but for Tunisian, you need to go up at least a half of a hook size, but preferably one full hook size. So if that ball band says 5mm, you need a 6mm. But a 5.5mm will get you by if you don’t have a 6mm.
The reason for needing a larger hook size is simple: it’s another way to combat the curling. DON’T GO UP TOO BIG! There’s a fine line between big and too big. If you were to use a 7mm or larger for that same yarn, you will end up with holes or gaps in your project that you won’t want. Remember this rule of thumb: one half to one full size bigger than what the ball band calls for. This is the case for any yarn you choose to work Tunisian crochet with.
I recommend getting a set of hooks like this one from Amazon.
Learning The Basic Technique of Tunisian Crochet
You need to know what the abbreviations are in order to move forward because always having to say, “Tunisian Simple Stitch” or “Tunisian Knit Stitch” is rough! Instead, just like normal crochet and knitting, there are abbreviations in Tunisian Crochet. Here’s the list:
TSS–Tunisian Simple Stitch
TKS–Tunisian Knit Stitch
TPS–Tunisian Purl Stitch
TDCS–Tunisian Double Crochet Stitch
TESS–Tunisian Extended Simple Stitch
TFS–Tunisian Full Stitch
TRS–Tunisian Reverse Stitch
TSLS–Tunisian Slanted Stitch
TSS2tog–Tunisian Simple Stitch 2 together (decrease)
TSS3tog–Tunisian Simple Stitch 3 together (decrease)
[…]– Repeat between the brackets (we also use * and then say, “repeat from *”)
This is just a basic stitches list. As we move forward in stitch tutorials, you will learn new ones that will be included with each tutorial so you can reference things!
Chain Up and Forward Pass of Foundation Row
Every Tunisian row consists of two steps, a Forward Pass, and a Return Pass. In the Forward Pass, you will gather up loops on the hook but not work them off just yet. The first Forward and Return Pass will create the Foundation Row. So you will always be making two passes–Forward and Return–to make one row.
The gathering of stitches on the Forward Pass of the Foundation Row is called the Cast On, much like knitting!
Just like with crochet, we will start with a slip knot on the hook like normal (no need for a long tail) and a chain. Chain up any number of stitches until you reach the desired length– 4″ is ideal for a gauge swatch, and stop there. Do not add an extra stitch, as the loop on your hook does count as a stitch in Tunisian Crochet. Yeah I know, strange to us, but trust me here.
Some Tunisian stitches do have a stitch multiple, which the tutorials for each stitch will indicate.
Once you have your chain done, we’re going to work back along our chain like we normally would for a single crochet row–by starting in the second loop from the hook. You can turn your chain and use the back hump if you like, or you can work in whatever loop makes you happy–there’s no wrong or right answer here. Do what is comfortable for you. Here’s the method:
- Insert hook into the second chain from the hook; yarn over and pull up a loop. Stop.
- Insert hook into the next chain; yarn over and pull up another loop. Stop.
- Insert hook into the next chain; yarn over and pull up yet another loop. Stop.
Do you see a pattern here? You’re picking up loops. Do step 3 until you have all the chains done. Count how many chains you have and take note so you don’t miss stitches in later rows. We don’t want our sides to shrink (or grow!). This gathering up of loops is known as the Forward Pass.
Return Pass, Foundation Row
Now you have so many loops on your hook! Good thing you have a long hook! To work the Return Pass of your foundation row, you will need to chain up one, then work back thru the loops, effectively working off each loop. Follow these steps:
- Yarn over and pull thru one loop–this is your chain up. Mark the stitch that is made on the side of the work with a stitch marker, you will be glad you did this later.
- Yarn over, pull thru two loops
- Yarn over, pull thru two loops
- Repeat step 3 until there is only one loop left. Stop.
I want to point something out here: what you might not have realized was that you were basically making single crochets. Yarn over and pull through 2 loops is the same as how to make a single crochet. The picture to the right shows the chain up and the first TSS made–by pulling thru the next two loops.
Keep working step 3 until you have one loop left.
This is the stitch at the very left edge of your work:
go thru two loops on very last stitch at the end of the forward pass of row 1 and each row thereafter
For an even left edge, you need to go through 2 loops of that edge stitch. So you need to insert your hook into the front and back bars of that stitch and pull up a loop.
The remaining stitch on the right side (first stitch of the forward pass) automatically creates a nice finished right edge, so we don’t have to worry about that one.