Tunisian Crochet for Beginners
Tunisian crochet combines a little bit of both crochet and knitting; perfect if you love both! The needle is hooked, but often much longer than a normal crochet hook with a stopper at the end to prevent the stitches from sliding off. You’ll often see similar terms to knitting when working through a Tunisian Crochet pattern such as casting on or intarsia. You can create so many different stitches and effects, and even work in some normal crochet stitches. I recommend beginners try creating a swatch of Tunisian Crochet for the first time which you can do using a normal crochet hook as long as the handle is straight.
Tunisian crochet rows will have quite a dense appearance which lends the technique to warm blankets or scarfs – but will also have a ‘right’ side and a ‘wrong’ side due to the wavy stitches the technique creates on the back of the work.
One of the biggest differences with Tunisian crochet is that the work is never turned. One row is made up of two parts: a ‘forward pass’ where you cast on and a ‘reverse pass’ where you cast off. The front pass creates the top layer of the work and therefore the pattern and the reverse pass will create the back of the work, forming the dense appearance of Tunisian crochet. All of my patterns include the 2 passes as 1 row and many other Tunisian crochet patterns are often the same.
***Starting tip*** because Tunisian crochet creates a thicker finished piece, use a crochet hook that is 1 size larger than what is recommended for your chosen yarn to help the stitches lie flat and not appear so tight and inflexible.
Let’s get started on the Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS)…
First, the foundation…
Similar to normal crochet, your work will always start with a foundation chain. You also need to include a foundation row made up of a forward and return pass which helps to add stability to the work before working on any colour changes, but depending on your pattern you can work different colours straight into the chain – it’s just a bit trickier!
Here, we’re going to start with a foundation row which is usually the same regardless of the rest of the pattern:
Start with a chain the same length as the number of stitches you want your work to be. For the tutorial we’re going to use 11 – so chain 11. Try to keep the tension fairly loose as this will help when you come to work your foundation row.
To begin the ‘forward pass’ of your foundation row – turn the chain you have just hooked on its side and you will see a series of bumps, insert the hook into the second bump from the hook. Working through the bumps of the chain rather than through the chain itself helps to create a neat edge that is much easier to add a border or join later on if necessary.
Then yarn round hook (YRH) and pull through the bump and onto the hook:
You now have 2 loops on your hook. Repeat this technique until you reach the end of your chain – you should have 11 loops on your hook when you reach the end; one loop for each chain.
Next, the return pass or cast off…
The second part of the foundation row is the ‘return pass’, which casts off the loops from the hook.
With the right side of your work facing you, we are now going to work back along the row from left to right – you do not need to turn.
YRH and pull the hook through the first loop on the hook only – this applies to the edge stitch only:
Then (YRH) and pull the yarn through the next 2 loops on the hook:
Repeat this technique pulling the yarn through 2 loops until there is one loop left on the hook. This completes the return pass and the remaining loop left on your hook makes the first stitch of the next row.
Tunisian Simple Stitch…
After working the foundation row, the Tunisian simple stitch can be worked…
You will see from your foundation row that you have created 11 vertical bars within your work – it’s these bars that we’re going to work into on the first forward pass of our TSS. Skip the first bar, and insert your hook under the second vertical bar:
YRH and draw the yarn back through the vertical bar of yarn which will leave you with 2 loops on your hook:
Repeat the technique until you have one remaining bar – which is actually the last stitch from your previous foundation row:
Up to now, we’ve been working into the front of the vertical bar, but there is also a back strand to the bar. For the last stitch of the row, insert your hook underneath the front and back bar on the outer edge, so there are two strands on the hook. It helps to turn your work towards you so you can see both bars:
YRH and pull through both bars. This creates a neat edge, which will look the same as the edge on the other side of the work and also the bottom line of your work if you’ve worked into the back bumps for your foundation row.
You can now start the return pass – remember to pull the yarn through 1 loop first, before completing the return pass row by pulling the yarn through 2 loops for the remaining stitches.
Finishing your TSS swatch…
Your work should start to look like the below after working multiple forward and return passes – you can see the pretty design of TSS start to form as you work each row:
When you are ready to complete your work you need to end on the return pass of your final row. You could just fasten off but we are going to create a row of slip stitches to neaten the edge. To do this, insert your hook under the next vertical bar:
YRH and pull the yarn through both loops on the hook. Repeat this technique across the entire row – making sure you insert your hook between the front and back bar for the final stitch:
Tie off and weave in any loose ends and you’re finished!
Now you’ve created your TSS swatch, why not have a go at my TSS Phone case pattern or my TSS mint check baby blanket!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial - I’d love to hear how you get on so please leave any comments suggestions below. This is such a pretty stitch and once you get the hang of it can be very versatile and easily picked up in many crochet projects.