Maybe you, like many readers, were taken by the Spice Market Tunic in the Fall 2009 issue of Interweave Crochet. Then you scanned over it and got as far as tss FwP. What's all that about?
It's about Tunisian crochet. It bears a striking resemblance to knitting, but Tunisian crochet is a fabulous technique using a crochet hook to create a unique fabric with a woven look. Tunisian crochet is a skill in itself with myriad stitches. Let's explore the construction of a few of those stitches.
Tunisian crochet is worked using either a Tunisian hook (sometimes called an Afghan hook) or a regular crochet hook that does not widen at the grip. A Tunisian hook looks like a regular crochet hook, only longer, and without a wide grip. Some Tunisian hooks are made extra long with a cord or wire that extends from the end of the hook. It is longer because you pick up stiches across the row, much like knitting, then work the stitches off the hook as in crochet. A single row is made up of both a forward pass and a return pass. With Tunisian crochet, the right side of the work is always facing you.
We'll begin with Tunisian simple stitch. You can find examples of Tunisian simple stitch in the Spice Market Tunic, as well as the Mulled Spices Afghan from Winter 2008 and the Tunisian Vest from 2004.
Pull out your swatching yarn and give it a try. Create a chain long enough for a good size swatch. For the foundation forward pass, pull up a loop in the bottom ridge loop of the second chain from the hook (see Figure 1), leave this loop on the hook and *pull up a loop in the next bottom ridge loop of the foundation chain leaving this loop on the hook as well; repeat from * the entire way across the foundation chain (see Figure 2).
You should pull up one fewer loops on your hook than chains you made for the foundation chain. The loop already on your hook when you begin pulling up loops counts as the first st. To work the Return Pass yarn over and draw through first loop on hook (this stitch becomes your selvedge stitch), *yarn over and draw through two loops on hook (see Figure 3); repeat from * until you have only one loop left on the hook, leave the last loop on your hook (it becomes the selvedge stitch for the other side of the fabric).
For the Tunisian simple stitch (tss) forward pass (FwP), insert the hook from right to left behind the 2nd vertical bar (see Figure 4), yarn over and pull up a loop leaving this loop on the hook, *insert the hook from right to left behind the next vertical bar leaving this loop on the hook as well; repeat from * to the last vertical bar. When working the last vertical bar insert the hook behind both the vertical bar and an additional loop at the edge of the fabric. This creates a more stable edge. Now work the return pass as above. You've just done two rows of Tunisian crochet!
Continue to repeat the Tunisian simple stitch Forward Pass and Return Pass to create this unique fabric. This technique can be terribly addicting I've found.
Inserting the hook in different loops or multiples of loops will create a remarkable number of different fabrics. Try the Tunisian knit stitch to create the Wool Bam Boo Cardigan. Tunisian knit stitch is a thick, solid fabric that is great for warm weather garments and children's clothing. Or refer to the illustrations for increases and decreases included with the La Mer Scarf from Summer 2008 for a lacier fabric. Tunisian is also a great stitch for men's garments, such as the Tunisian Vest. Tunisian simple stitch can be very relaxing; the Mulled Spices Afghan would be a fabulous projects to perfect your Tunisian crochet skills on. The blanket is dense without being bulky and sure to keep you warm.
So pick up your hook and study the illustrations above. I can't wait to see how your Tunisian projects turn out.
P.S. If you get really hooked on Tunisian, subscribe now so you don't miss the Winter issue, with full coverage of Tunisian crochet techniques and several Tunisian crochet projects.