Today I’m happy to feature a guest post by the wonderful crochet designer and author Dora Ohrenstein. Note that this post was originally run on the WEBS yarn store blog. She is doing great work with Tunisian crochet and as you’ll learn at the end of the post you can study it with her personally by taking her classes in January at Vogue Knitting Live!
Blue Jewels Pullover, copyright Annies.com
The excitement about Tunisian crochet and its awesome possibilities has proved enduring in the crochet community. In fact, even some knitters are getting on board. If you are among the uninitiated, it’s time to delve in and find out why crafters are so committed to this variation of traditional crochet.
Tunisian Crochet: It’s More Than You Think
Most people have seen Tunisian simple stitch (Tss) and Tunisian knit stitch (Tks). The latter is popular because it really does look like knitting, although the fabric is quite different (more on that later.) But there are thirty or forty more known Tunisian stitches, and new ones being invented every day!
The New Tunisian Crochet (Interweave 2013) has instructions for 30 stitch patterns, including many examples of gorgeous lace, textured stitches, entrelac, cables, and intarsia. When I display my collection of swatches from the book, people say things like “I had no idea Tunisian crochet could do so much!” I thoroughly enjoyed researching all the stitches in 19th century needlework books and in a variety of foreign publications, and they’ve become a great source of design inspiration for me. On this page are some of my recently published Tunisian designs, and there will be many more to come!
What I love about designing with Tunisian is:
- The unique look of the stitches.
- How beautifully the fabric drapes.
- How different yarns can be featured in an entirely different way from regular crochet.
Similar To Knitting, But Different
The resemblance to knitting is part of the appeal, but if you plan to adapt a knit pattern to Tunisian knit stitch, keep this in mind: the return row that’s necessary in Tunisian crochet adds an additional layer of fabric to the back of the work, making it quite a bit heavier and thicker than its knitted equivalent. For this reason, I recommend that you redo the gauge, using a substantially larger hook than the knitting needle used in the original. You”ll end up with larger stitches, and fabric that is far more fluid and attractive. Of course, for some items, like a snug hat or winter jacket, thicker fabric is desirable for coziness and warmth.
For most wearables, however, I get the right fabric when I use very large hooks, or open stitches. For example, the Calisto Vest, worked with Madelinetosh Merino worsted, is worked on a 6.5 hook, whereas most knitted patterns using this yarn call for 5 mm or smaller needles. For the Blue Jewels Pullover, crocheted with Crystal Palace Mini Mochi, usually worked by knitters on size 2.5 or 3 mm needles, I used the 6.5 mm hook again, and the drape is stupendous on this garment.
For the pullover published in Vogue Knitting Crochet 2013, three different stitches were used, two of them lacy. An unusual dropped stitch is shown on the cover sweater of my book, a stitch I found in the Encyclopedia of Needlework, published in 1875.
Tools for Tunisian Crochet
Increased interest in Tunisian has had the marvelous effect of instigating the manufacture of new and improved Tunisian tools. Once upon a time I was very attached to my hand crafted wooden Tunisian hooks, but having discovered the advantages of a cabled hook, I transferred my affections to this new tool. When making sweaters, a cabled hook makes the work much easier to handle and lighter on the hands. You can also work in the round using a cabled hook, without resorting to a double ended hook!
Tension in Tunisian Crochet
When teaching Tunisian crochet, I notice many people have difficulty creating larger stitches because their tension is too tight. If you struggle with this issue, you might want to check out my Interweave DVD, which explores the topic in depth (click here for a Youtube preview).
Learn Tunisian Crochet Directly From Dora
Or, come take my Tunisian classes this January at Vogue Knitting Live, January 17 – 19, 2014, click here for the complete schedule. We’ll be looking at a variety of stitches and techniques, and you’ll become part of the growing group of Tunisian crochet devotees!
Dora Ohrenstein is a crochet designer, author and publisher. Her books include The New Tunisian Crochet (Interweave, 2013), Custom Crocheted Sweaters (Lark, 2012), the first in-depth book on sweater construction and alteration for crocheters, Creating Crochet Fabric (Lark, 2010), and Crochet Insider’s Passion for Fashion (Leisure Arts, 2009). Dora’s chic and innovative designs appear regularly in Interweave Crochet, Crochet! and Crochet Today. She is Co-Editor of Annies.com widely read Talking Crochet column, and she writes for various other publications about crochet history, international traditions, and techniques. Dora is the founder and editor of Crochet Insider, (www.crochetinsider.com) an online magazine that has won the Flamie Award three times. She is also a professional singer and voice teacher.