One of the reasons that people love Tunisian crochet is because you can get a knit-like look using the basics of crochet. There may be no pattern more “knit” than Fair Isle so many people will take an interest in Brenda Bourg’s new crochet book Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet: Step-by-Step Instructions and 16 Colorful Cowls, Sweaters, and More.
What Is Fair Isle?
You’d probably recognize Fair Isle if you saw it but in case you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to a specific type of pattern that is traditional in knitting. It’s a Scottish knitting technique (named after the Fair Isle region). It’s a form of colorwork in knitting, and although it has come to vary over the years, it traditionally includes two colors per row and five or less colors total in the project. (At least, that’s what information I’m able to source online; as a non-knitter the specifics are pretty new to me.)
Fair Isle Patterns
There are several different graphics that are popular in Fair Isle knitting. One of the most popular is snowflakes, which makes this an especially great technique for creating winter items. In her introduction, Brenda Bourg writes,
“I love the traditional snowflake designs; they are what drew me to Fair Isle, in any form, to begin with. The high contrast between light and dark is mesmerizing, and they bring to my mind winter, warmth, and home – all things comfortable and cozy.”
Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet
Some crocheters don’t knit but are interested in achieving a knit-like look and have found that Tunisian crochet is a great way to do that. Other people, like Brenda herself, do knit but prefer Tunisian crochet at times just because it’s an enjoyable craft. Tunisian crochet, which typically uses a longer crochet hook, often with a cable attached, and uses loops held on the hook/cable to get the knit-like style, is a great option for replicating Fair Isle patterns as we see from Brenda’s designs in this crochet book. She writes,
“All of the Fair Isle designs in this book were created using the Tunisian knit stitch. I’ve found that it creates the crispest look, and it is hard to tell the difference between Fair Isle knitting and Fair Isle Tunisian crochet from the right side of the item. The main difference would be in the bulkiness of the project. Tunisian crochet will always be much thicker, and of course, heavier. What is accomplished in one row of knitting requires a forward and return pass in Tunisian crochet.”
Learning Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet
This crochet book is not just a set of crochet patterns; it is also a guide to learning the technique of Fair Isle Tunisian crochet. Brenda teaches the Tunisian knit stitch, which forms the basis of the crochet patterns in the book, but she also teaches the Tunisian purl stitch, Tunisian seed stitch, how to increase and how to create ribbing. She also reminds you how to do single crochet and back loop only single crochet.
The photo-rich tutorials for each of this stitches are plenty to give you a solid understanding of all of the crochet stitches that are used in this crochet book. She also explains about changing colors, “locking carrying color”, working with the right tension and additional tips and information that will help you with all of the steps for the projects in this crochet book. She even includes some color theory information so you can choose your own colors, which is smart since this is a color-rich technique.
She includes twelve hints and tips that you might not think about even if you already know how to crochet. For example, she says, “stop and count the loops on your hook every few rows. Better to catch a dropped stitch early!” That’s something that might be automatic to you if you knit but it’s not something you have to worry about in classic crochet so it’s a great reminder.
16 Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet Patterns
The crochet patterns in this book are essentially organized by size, beginning with boot cuffs, going through accessories including headbands and cowls, and ending up with sweaters and blankets. You’ll find two crochet patterns each for boot cuffs, mitts, sweaters and afghans, three crochet patterns each for headbands and cowls and individual crochet patterns for a jar cozy and a crochet bag. This is a nice selection of crochet projects to keep you busy and to give you options as you perfect the art of this new technique.
The crochet patterns in this book include photos, detailed written instructions and color charts. Brenda explains in the beginning of the book how to read these Fair Isle Tunisian crochet graphs. The combination of the written instructions and the graphs is great because it gives you a solid understanding of what the item should look like. And as you work through multiple patterns, you’ll get a good sense of what’s involved in turning a graph into a crocheted item in this technique. This would allow you to print out two-color graphs of your own design to create your own Fair Isle Tunisian crochet patterns!
You can get a glimpse of all 16 crochet patterns in Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet on Ravelry.
About Brenda Bourg
Brenda Bourg is a Colorado-based knit and crochet designer (and work from home mom) whose patterns have been published in Crochet World, Cast On and other online and print resources. She is the co-editor of Talking Crochet Update, and she has crochet patterns for sale on Ravelry and Craftsy.
This post kicks off the book’s blog tour; if you want to follow along check out the next stop on CGOA on 2/15.