Today I’m bringing to the blog a tutorial for the style of crochet known as Tunisian (also called Afghan) crochet, a method that uses a long hook to keep multiple stitch loops on the hook before working them back off to complete them. There are many different Tunisian stitches, but one of the most basic is the Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS). The following is a guide to creating this stitch, as well as making increases and decreases in TSS.
This tutorial is based on my Tunisian Primer, a guide included as part of my Shaman Coat crochet pattern which utilizes Tunisian Simple Stitch! Tunisian might seem kind of daunting if you’ve never tried it, but it is one of my all-time favorite crochet styles and I really encourage you to try it if you never have 🙂
UPDATE 8/18/2020: There is now a growing playlist full of Tunisian Crochet video tutorials over on the Morale Fiber YouTube channel – check it out!
Tunisian Simple Stitch Tutorial:
Working Tunisian crochet may require a different hold than regular crochet – here’s an example of how I hold mine. The hand holding my live yarn remains the same, while my Tunisian hook is grasped almost like a knife, with the index finger controlling the loops on the hook.
In addition, Tunisian crochet requires a Tunisian (also sometimes called Afghan) hook, which is an specialty hook that is extra long with a stopper on the end.
Starting, Forward Pass, and Return Pass (RP)
To begin a Tunisian piece, chain the number of sts the pattern requires. This is your foundation for the following rows.
To begin the first row, insert your hook into the single loop on the underside of the 2nd ch from the hook. Yarn over (YO) and draw up a loop. Notice that before you do this, you already have one loop on your hook. This first loop counts as the first stitch and so you do not work into the first chain from the hook, but the second.
Continue to draw up a loop from the back of ea ch stitch until you reach the end of the row. The action of drawing up a loop from each stitch in a Tunisian row is referred to as the Forward Pass, and counts as half of a row. (A single Tunisian row is composed of a Forward Pass and a Return Pass).
Now that you’ve got all your loops on the hook, it’s time to work them back off with the Return Pass.
YO and draw through ONE loop. Every Return Pass in TSS crochet begins this way. Don’t forget it!
YO and draw through TWO loops. Repeat yarning over and drawing through TWO loops until you reach the end of the row.
At the end of the Return Pass, you will have one loop left on your hook. This loop counts as the first loop on the hook for the Forward Pass of the NEXT row.
To begin the next row, insert your hook under the second vertical bar on the previous row. You will NOT be inserting it into the very first vertical bar (the one on the edge) because you already have your first loop on the hook leftover from the last row, right? Right.
Your hook should enter under the stitch from the front and emerge from the front, as shown in the picture.
YO and draw the loop through the bar. In the Shaman Coat pattern this is referred to as “picking up a lp” and a single vertical bar represents one Tunisian simple stitch.
Repeat across the rest of the row, picking up one loop from each stitch.
YO and draw through ONE loop. (YO and draw through TWO loops) rpt across the entire row. In the Shaman Coat pattern, the instructions for the entire return pass read “Work all sts off the hook” since the return pass is the worked the same way for every row.
Note: Tunisian crochet has a right side and a wrong side – the right side with the vertical bars will be facing you while you work TSS – tunisian pieces are not turned while working like regular crochet.
Increasing in TSS is done ONLY on the forward pass, with the return pass worked in the same manner as usual, but with one more stitch to work off the hook.
To increase, insert your hook in the space between two vertical bars (with the hook entering through the front and emerging at the back) and draw up a loop. This counts as one increase and the loop is kept on the hook the same as the rest of the stitches and worked back off in the same manner.
The picture above shows the increase highlighted after the forward pass is completed.
Like increases, decreases in TSS are worked on the forward pass only.
To decrease, insert your hook under TWO adjacent sts (the vertical bars) at once. YO and draw up a single loop. This counts as a single decrease and the loop is kept on the hook the same as the other sts and worked back off in the same manner on the return pass.
You might notice that your little Tunisian swatch or piece wants to curl – this is totally normal for this type of stitch and can be overcome with blocking.
The picture above shows the decreased sts highlighted after the forward pass is completed. You can decrease across more than two stitch at once – for instance, the Shaman Coat hood uses a double decrease that inserts the hook through three stitches at once and draws up one loop.
I hope this tutorial has been helpful and that you are inspired to try Tunisian crochet! As I mentioned, it’s one of my favorite techniques. The fabric made by Tunisian crochet is warm, more tightly woven than regular crochet, and has a lovely texture. TSS in particular creates a really pretty woven texture on the surface of the fabric. Here are some things I’ve created with Tunisian Simple Stitch:
Interested in more Tunisian crochet? Check out the FREE scarf pattern I created using Tunisian Knit Stitch, another basic Tunisian style.
Thanks for visiting, more to come!