When I learned to crochet which was, um, a while ago, Tunisian crochet was not even on the radar. Back then, it was called Afghan stitch and it was used to make afghans. Period.
Interweave Crochet first featured Tunisian crochet in its inaugural special issue in 2004—the Tunisian Vest by Kathleen Power Johnson, at left, a classic garment worked in a honeycomb pattern. Even then, the technique was wobbling forward: itwas called Tunisian, but the pattern called for an "afghan or cro-hook."
Fast-forward to Winter 2009, with Interweave Crochet's special section on Tunisian crochet. Here Dora Ohrenstein explored the history and technique of Tunisian crochet. We had a nice chat with Angela Grabowski, a Tunisian stitch expert. And we had four Tunisian patterns. We just dove right in!
We included a Tunisian pattern in subsequent issues, such as the Forest Petals Shawl by Karla McCalmont (center left) which explores the effect of negative space in a lovely wrap (Interweave Crochet Spring 2010). And we follow up on the techniques with videos on Crochet Me; you'll find one on the Forest Petals Shawl here. In Summer 2010, we explored Tunisian crochet's sister, double-ended crochet. And followed up with patterns using double-ended crochet.
With each pattern, the technique moves forward, as designers discover new ways to insert their hook in and around stitches to create new patterns. Tunisian crochet is something like interval training in the gym. You work on the forward pass, maybe sweating a little as you make sure your hook is going where it should as you gather up stitches on the hook; then you take a little break on the return pass as you release the stitches, working your way back down to one stitch.
Kim Werker, my predecessor as editor, once commented, "Rather than have readers view each issue of the magazine on its own, we would like them to see each volume as a growing compendium of information." And that's a tradition we carry forward, because we know that you are curious, engaged readers. And once you learn a technique, you want to continue to learn more about it.
Tunisian is just one example of our explorations. In the Winter 2010 issue, we delve into cable crochet, also once relegated largely to afghans and afghan-like sweaters. Designers pushed the boundaries of this technique, with accessories, sweaters and a dress-as well as a design that brought together a fusion of Tunisian and cables (Aspenglow Jacket by Hannah Cuviello, bottom left).
In revisiting the crochet of our past, we reclaim it and reinvent it to bring it into our present lives. We love sharing this journey with you.
Thanks for taking this trip with me in the way-back machine. I can't wait to move forward with you in our explorations.
If you want to join us on our journey, subscribe now and you'll receive a free download with a Tunisian primer and a pattern for the fabulous Sunset Ruana on the cover of the Winter 2009 issue.