Friday, December 2, 2011

Tunisian Simple Stitch ~ A QuickTutorial

Here for your stitching pleasure and edification is a short tutorial for Tunisian Simple Stitch, which will feature in December's free pattern. Tunisian crochet (also known as afghan crochet or shepherd's crochet, among other names) is quick and fun, and yields a very dense, stable crochet fabric. For fabric with a bit more stretch, go up 2-3 hook sizes - which is what we'll do today.

(Crochet purists are advised to skip this paragraph. If you're shocked by what comes next, don't say I didn't warn you.) There are special hooks available for Tunisian crochet, but for small projects I've had perfectly good results with regular crochet hooks. Don't let the lack of a specialty hook stop you from trying this fun stitch.

In this sample, I used a bulky (#5) yarn. The recommended hook size for this yarn is K; for Tunisian I bumped it up to size N.

Grab yourself a bit of yarn and a hook, and let's get started.

Use a hook 2-3 sizes larger than recommended for the yarn.

Chain 6. We're going to make the "base row" of Tunisian crochet.
Our swatch will be 6 stitches wide.

Turn the chain over. See the bumps on the back?
That's where you'll be inserting the hook.

You're going to pick up 5 loops, one in each bump.
Start with the 5th chain - the one next to the hook.
Insert hook and pull up a loop.
Now you have 2 loops on your hook.

Keeping the loops on the hook, pull up a loop in the remaining
4 chains. Now you have 6 loops on your hook:
the original loop, and the 5 you pulled up.
This is called the "forward pass", by the way.
Do not turn your work. This side will always be facing you.
Now it's time for the "return pass". We're going to work those loops
off the hook. Yarn over, and pull through 1 loop.

Yarn over, and pull through 2 loops.
Repeat this step (yarn over, pull through 2 loops) until you reach the end,
and have one loop left on your hook.
If you were counting (and what crocheter doesn't count under her breath?)
you'll notice that you made 6 stitches on the return pass.
Since we're not making any increases or decreases,
each row will be the same: pull up 5 loops on the forward pass,
stitch off 6 stitches on the return pass.

Congratulations! Your base row is done.
Now stop and look at your work. See the vertical bars of yarn?
(In the picture they're marked with dots.)
On the next forward pass, you're going to insert your hook
UNDER those vertical bars, one at a time.
Notice that there is no dot on the very right hand stitch -
skip that stitch.

Insert your hook from right to left UNDER the first vertical bar
to the left of the end stitch.
Yarn over, and pull up a loop.

Do the same with the next 3 vertical bars.
Insert hook, yarn over, pull up a loop.
Keep the loops on your hook.
When you get to the end, take a look at the left-hand edge.
Insert your hook under that vertical bar,
AND under the strand behind it.

Here's what that last stitch looks like from the side.
Be sure to insert your hook under BOTH STRANDS
of the left-hand edge stitch, and pull up a loop.
(Doing this will give you a nice neat edge that matches the right edge.)

You should now have 6 loops on your hook -
the original loop, plus the 5 you picked up.
Work the stitches off your hook as before:
Yarn over, pull through 1 loop only.
Yarn over, pull through 2 loops at a time
until you reach the end of the row
and have 1 loop left on the hook
(6 stitches total).

Time for the next row. Remember to skip the right-edge stitch
and insert your hook under the NEXT vertical bar.
Pull up 4 loops, 1 in each vertical bar...

...then insert your hook into BOTH STRANDS at the left edge
and pull up the last loop.
You should have 6 loops on your hook.
Work them off the hook as before:
yarn over, pull through 1 loop;
yarn over, pull through 2 loops at at time until
you have 1 loop left - again, 6 stitches total.

Do as many rows as you like. When you feel comfortable with the stitch,
it's time for the next step: binding off.
Starting at the beginning of the row,
insert your hook under the next vertical bar,
as if you were starting a forward pass...

Yarn over, and pull through BOTH loops on hook (just like a slip stitch).
Insert hook into next vertical bar, and repeat.
Slip stitch all the way across your swatch.

When you reach the left edge, insert hook under BOTH strands
of the last stitch, as usual. Yarn over and pull through.
And your swatch is done!
Looks pretty nice, doesn't it? It would make a lovely doll potholder.

You'll notice that the swatch wants to curl up from the top and bottom (rather like knitting). I've read that blocking can help tame the curl.

See my next post for a quick and fun Tunisian slipper pattern using Tunisian Simple Stitch.

P.S. There's lots of great Tunisian crochet information out there on the web, including videos. For further reading, Stitch Diva Studios has an excellent set of tutorials with detailed photos and explanations of the various steps.

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  1. Wow. This is one of the clearest tutorials I've ever seen. I might even be able to do it - if I had hands instead of hooves. But the Goatmother, she of limited skill, might actually be able to do this! Thank you!

  2. I like looking at your tutorials for no other reason than the pure pleasure of it. So well done.

  3. I've been wanting to make a pair of slippers so I'll be back, this stitch doesn't look too hard.

  4. I want to make slippers! I have a tunisian crochet hook and everything :) I crochet'd a pillow for my father using this stitch so that I could crosstitch an M&M into it for him. Looking forward to the slipper pattern!

  5. Great tutorial! I can't wait to try this out.

  6. This is such a pretty way of crocheting! It is on my list of things to learn how to do!

    I am stopping over via a pin on Pinterest!

    Blue Eyed Beauty Blog

  7. Such clear instructions. I have a lot of trouble with ordinary crochet, knowing where to put the hook at the beginning of a row, thus the sides end up crooked with stitches either missing or too many.One of your instructions on how to keep straight would be much appreciated. Some of us are visual rather than readers. Glad you have the time to help us all and thanks.

    1. Thank you - here is a link that might help:

      Good luck! :)

  8. just finished a pair for my mom for her birthday..they are really cute!I added elastic thread to the top just so they would be more secure..also wove in rubber bands on the bottom so she doesn't slip. Really cute and easy to follow pattern! Thank you so much!

    1. The elastic sounds like a great idea, as these slippers do tend to loosen up over time. And I like your rubber band trick too.

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  9. I just tried this, and you made it so easy to understand! I've always wanted to learn tunisian crochet but it intimidated me, it looked so difficult! Now on to your slipper pattern! Thanks for the time spent putting this together!

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment! Good luck with your project and I hope they turn out well.

      Tunisian is really pretty easy, isn't it? :)


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