Whether you are a beginner to Tunisian crochet, or a crocheter who wants to brush up on your skills everything you need to know to get started with Tunisian crochet is below.
What is Tunisian Crochet?
Tunisian crochet can be thought of as a cross between knitting and crochet. Loops are picked up in one direction like knitting (the forward pass) and then worked off in the opposite direction like crochet (the return pass) until only one loop remains on the hook. The forward and return pass together is normally classed as one row and start and end with only one loop on the hook.
What Type of Hooks do I Need to Use?
For practising Tunisian crochet and working up simple swatches a standard straight crochet hook is sufficient.
Once you’ve got the hang of the basics though you will need to invest in a Tunisian crochet hook and there are lots of types to choose from!
They fall into two basic categories; long straight hooks (approx. 30cm long like a knitting needle), and interchangeable hooks where a wire can be attached onto the end to adjust the size of the hook to the project. You need these longer hooks because all the stitches are kept on the hook for the forward pass and your hook needs room to accommodate them all.
Long straight hooks are good for starting off with and for small-medium sized projects. You can get both plastic or bamboo long handled hooks, and you can pick up a set of bamboo Tunisian crochet hooks fairly cheaply online nowadays. Bamboo hooks can be good to start off with, but I have found that they aren’t that comfortable to use and the yarn can catch on the hook as you are working so I was soon looking for a new hook. I have a few plastic hooks and I find them comfortable and the yarn slides off easily, although they also squeak sometimes if the stitches are too tight! I would suggest though that this is an affordable way to get started with Tunisian crochet and you can just purchase the size hook you need as you go along.
If you are serious about Tunisian crochet though and want to try larger projects it is worth investing in a set of interchangeable hooks. If you want to do this I would do your research and look at all the reviews as they are not cheap! A couple of considerations are to go for hooks with a pointy head rather than a rounded head, as this will help you to work faster, and go for the larger size hook sets otherwise they won’t get much use!
What Size Hooks do I Need?
As a general rule the size of the Tunisian crochet hook should be at least 2 hook sizes larger than recommended hook size on the yarn ball band. This is because Tunisian crochet fabric can be quite dense so if you do not go up in hook size the crocheted fabric will curl and have little drape.
So How Do I Start in Tunisian Crochet?
All Tunisian crochet starts off with a foundation row and this is the first row on which you will base all your other stitches. You make a foundation chain as you would in standard crochet except that the number of chains will be the same as the number of stitches required for the first row.
You can work the foundation row into the back bump, top loop or bottom loop of the chain, and depending on where you place the stitch depends on what result you get. Be careful when following patterns and pay attention to which way the designer recommends…
HOW TO WORK THE FOUNDATION ROW
To start off in Tunisian crochet you need to work a foundation row – this is how you work into the back bump:
1. Make a length of chain the same as the number of stitches required for the first row.
2. Turn your work to the side and beginning with the 2nd bump from the hook and keeping the existing loop on the hook, insert your hook through the back bump, yrh and pull up a loop (2 loops on hook).
3. Continue like this keeping all the loops on the hook that you have worked until you get to the end of the row. Do not turn. This is the foundation forward pass completed.
4. Remove the loops (the return pass) by chaining 1, then *yrh and pull through 2 loops. Repeat from * until you get to the end of the row and 1 loop remains on the hook. This is the foundation row completed.
Do I need to Turn my Work?
You do not normally turn your work in Tunisian Crochet and you work with the right side facing throughout.
How do I work the Return Pass?
The return pass (or standard return pass) is always done by making one chain stitch (to raise your hook to the next level – like a turning chain) and then yarn over and drawing the yarn through the 2 loops, continuing like this to the end.
Placement of First and Last Stitches
To keep your work straight in Tunisian crochet remember to focus on the placement of the first and last stitches as follows:
The loop on the hook at the start of the row is classed as the first stitch. To start working the rest of the row skip the vertical strand on the outside edge of the work and work the second vertical strand of yarn from the row below.
To make the final stitch of the forward pass, insert the hook through both the front and back vertical strands of the outside edge of the work from the row below.
Tunisian Simple Stitch (tss)
This is the basic and most common stitch used in Tunisian crochet and is the first stitch you should familiarise yourself with. Once you’ve worked the Foundation Row, work the Tunisian Simple Stitch as follows:
HOW TO WORK TUNISIAN SIMPLE STITCH (Tss)
1. Insert the hook from right to left under the second vertical strand of yarn on the row below.
2. Yrh and pull up a loop (2 loops on hook).
3. Repeat steps 1-2 in all the stitches across until you get to the last stitch
4. Work the last stitch by inserting the hook under both vertical strands on the outer edge of the last stitch, yrh and pull up a loop. Work the return pass.
This is what the front of the Tunisian Simple Stitch looks like once a few rows are worked.
As in standard crochet, change colour by working the last yarn round hook (yrh) of the previous stitch with the new colour.
To get bold stripes, change colour at the beginning of the forward pass by working the return pass until you only have 2 loops remaining on your hook. Then yrh with the new colour and pull that loop through the last two loops on the hook.
To get a ‘tweed’ effect, change colour at the beginning of the return pass by completing the forward pass, then yrh with the new color and pull through the first loop to create a chain 1. Then complete your return pass with the new colour.
Increasing and Decreasing
There are a few different ways to increase and decrease in Tunisian crochet and this may vary from pattern to pattern. A common way to increase is to insert your hook between the 2nd and 3rd vertical bars and draw up a loop, and for decreasing to work together two vertical bars. Refer to the pattern for details.
Once you have worked the required number of rows bind off your work by working a slip stitch edge on your crocheted fabric as follows:
On the forward pass, insert the hook into the second vertical strand of the row below, yarn over and draw up the loop, this time pull it through both the vertical strand and the stitch on the hook. Continue to the end and fasten off.
I hope you have found this guide useful, and if you haven’t already tried Tunisian crochet I hope it has given you a nudge to take the plunge and give it a go!
Below are links to a couple of my Tunisian crochet patterns to help you get started!
- My free Stepped Tunisian Shawl is perfect for beginners and is worked using only two Tunisian crochet stitches to create the distinctive stepped triangular edges.
- My free Rainbow Tunisian Bag is perfect for beginners too, worked in Tunisian Simple Stitch it also used the cross-stitch technique to make the rainbow.
- The free tutorial Simple Tunisian Pumpkins does not require a Tunisian hook and is a great way to make a practise swatch too!