Tunisian Crochet opens up a wide world of yarn-filled possibilities. This Tunisian Crochet Guide offers easy-to-learn stitches and gorgeous finished projects. Learn all there is about this fun style of crochet with this Ultimate Guide to Tunisian Crochet.
The Ultimate Guide to Tunisian Crochet
Tunisian Crochet is one of my favorite kinds of crochet. Almost a cross between crocheting and knitting, crafters from both realms will find similarities between the two. In fact, depending on the stitches used, you could follow a knitting pattern using Tunisian stitches. How cool is that?!
Interesting Facts about Tunisian Crochet:
Tunisian Crochet is worked like an old fashioned type writer. Because of this there is no turning meaning that you will always be looking at the “right side” of your work. The back side of your work will take on a similar appearance to the Stockinette stitch used in knitting.
The fabric is thicker than traditional crochet which makes for super warm blanket, cardigans, etc.
Tunisian crochet typically uses less yarn than traditional crochet. If you’re needing to make a blanket and not sure you’ll have enough yarn, this technique could be a good option for you.
Beginner Tunisian Crochet Tips:
Tunisian always begins with a foundation row. This will be the backbone of the first row of the pattern.
Each row is made up of two parts: the forward pass (worked from right to left) and the return pass (worked from left to right, also referred to as the reverse pass or the backward pass). Just like an old fashioned type writer.
The width of your piece is controlled by the size (width) of the stiches on your return pass. To help keep things uniform, make sure that these stitches are as consistent as possible in size.
The height of your piece is controlled by the size (height) of the loops on your forward pass. Try to keep the height of the loops as consistent as possible.
How many chains to start with?
The number of stitches wide + 2 (one for each outside stitch). Many Tunisian stitches do not have a stitch multiple. However, if the stitch pattern is the width of 6 stitches, then you would want your foundation chain to be a multiple of 6, plus one stitch for the left edge and one stitch for the right edge. Let’s say we want 10 repeats for a particular pattern.
6 (number of stitches per repeat) x 10 (number of repeats) = 60 + 1 (left edge) + 1 (right edge) = 62 chains to start.
As in the traditional single crochet stitch, you will use the second chain from the hook to begin pulling up loops for the foundation row.
The left edge (Outside Stitch or Edge Stitch) is an important stitch to pay attention to. The right edge loop (the one that always stays on the hook) is also important to keep an eye on as you crochet. You’ll want to make sure that those two loops remain as consistent in height as possible.
This helps to keep your overall tension from getting out of hand, and it makes your border look so much nicer due to tidier stitch placement.
On the left swatch below I have made sure to keep my tension as consistent as possible.
Tunisian Crochet Stitches & Abbreviations:
TSS = Tunisian Simple Stitch
TKS = Tunisian Knit Stitch
TPS – Tunisian Purl Stitch
TFS = Tunisian Full Stitch
THDC = Tunisian Half Double Crochet
TDC = Tunisian Double Crochet
Tslst = Tunisian Slip Stitch (used for fastening off)
TRS = Tunisian Reverse Stitch (tutorial coming soon!)
TSS2tog = Tunisian Simple Stitch two together (used as a means to decrease, and can be done with other stitches as well)
About Tunisian Crochet Hooks:
There are two different categories of hooks for Tunisian Crochet (also called afghan hooks).
There are stick hooks which are typically 12 – 14″ with a stopper on one end. These hooks are used to make smaller projects, up to about a baby blanket size (about 36″ wide).
There are cabled hooks that are used to make larger pieces, with the cables typically ranging in length from 16″ to 60″.
Always use a hook size larger than you would in traditional crochet. I usually find the sweet spot to be 1.5 mm to 2 mm larger than what the yarn label suggests.
A double ended crochet hook is used for Tunisian crocheting in the round.
Tip: Be careful when purchasing that the hook on both ends are the same size. Some manufacturers market 2-in-1 hooks that are of different sizes on each end.
Parts of a Tunisian Crochet Stitch:
Each stitch is made up of several parts. There are five bars total per stitch made: two vertical bars and three horizontal bars. Hook placement (the part of the stitch used) and how you pull up the loops determines the stitch made.
Front bar (vertical, made in the forward pass)
Back Bar (vertical, made in the forward pass)
Upper Bar (horizontal, made in the return pass)
Lower Bar (horizontal, made in the return pass)
Back Horizontal Bar (horizontal, made in the return pass)
The vertical bars are made on the forward pass by pulling up loops, and the horizontal bars are made on the return pass. I like to think of the return pass as a chain that runs through the forward pass loops.
How to count Tunisian Crochet:
Count the vertical bars to count your stitches. Remember that the outside loops on both side DO count as stitches. Here is a piece that is 10 stitches wide.
And a closer up view of counting individual stitches:
Counting rows in Tunisian Crochet is rather easy! All you need to do is count either the vertical bars from the bottom of the piece to the top, or rotate and count the edge stitches. I love how clean and crisp the edges are in Tunisian, makes it super easy to count.
Changing colors in Tunisian Crochet:
Changing colors or adding a new skein of yarn to your project is easy. If changing yarn at the beginning of a row, you’ll use the new color to make the last pull-through of the previous row. Just like in traditional crochet.
If changing color in the middle of the row you’ll drop one strand and simply continue on with the other. In the return pass you’ll do the opposite to switch back to the original color.
I find that adding a new skein of yarn looks best when done while crocheting the Forward Pass. Changing yarn on the return pass tends to pull that stitch too tight on the back side and can distort the stitches in that area.
Since each stitch is crocheted directly on top of the stitch below it (and not slightly offset/slanted as in traditional crochet) the rounds do not rotate. This is great for colorwork crochet projects where you want nice, crisp, clean lines. As if to spell a name on a baby blanket, etc. See more about creating crochet graphs here.
Ways to Increase Tunisian Crochet:
Said simply, increasing in Tunisian Crochet means that you are adding another loop to the hook using any portion of the stitch, or the space around the stitch.
Inserting the hook in the space between stitches makes an increase, as does a yarn over (which can sometimes leave an unsightly gap in the subsequent rows), as does pulling up a loop in the Upper Bar, Lower Bar, or the Back Horizontal Bar. Virtually any method of adding another loop to your hook will suffice.
Ways to Decrease in Tunisian Crochet:
Decreasing simply means that you are removing one of the loops from your piece. You can do this on the forward pass or on the return pass. You can either pull up ONE loop using TWO loops from the previous row (in the forward pass) or you can pull through an extra loop when making your return pass.
Strategically placed increases and decreases will help to shape the fabric. If you are brand new to Tunisian Crochet I do recommend starting with flat projects first.
How to Fasten off Tunisian Crochet:
Also called a bind off row, you’ll simply slip stitch across the top of the piece. This is called Tslst (Tunisian Slip Stitch) and is typically done in the manner of the stitch used for the pattern. For example, if the piece was made using the Tunisian Knit Stitch (going straight through the center of the stitch) you would make the Tslst in the same way (going straight through the center of the stitch and slip stitching).
Helpful tip: Stay a bit looser on the bind off row to not affect tension, and so you can get back into those stitches when you go to make the first border row.
Fabric Curling (and tips to avoid it):
Tunisian crochet does tend to curl in the first few rows. This is because of the way the stitches are formed (what part of the stitch is used to create subsequent rows). Some stitches curl like crazy while others have virtually zero curl at all.
If you are working with a stitch that is curling badly, there are a few things you can try:
- Try going up a hook size – or two. This loosens up the tension and helps the fabric to lay more flat.
- Make the second row of your piece a row of TPS (Purl Stitch) or TRS (Reverse Stitch). These stitches have practically no curl, so will help to tame other, more “curly” stitches such as the Knit Stitch. This technique works great, but be warned that adding this row may make your piece look “off” because it doesn’t necessarily match the rest of your pattern.
- Add a bigger border. The border itself will help to combat the curling, but adding a more substantial border will help further yet!
- Block the piece. Depending on what the project is, and what fiber content is in the yarn, blocking may help to fix the curling issue. This is the least reliable method, in my opinion, because it isn’t necessarily permanent and does not address the issue from the get go.
- Keep your Forward Pass yarn from getting too tight as you pull up loops. You may find it helpful to use your index finger to hold the Forward Pass loops to a consistent height.
Tunisian Crochet Worked Flat vs. In The Round:
In order to crochet Tunisian in the round you will need a double ended hook.
When crocheting Tunisian in the round you will have two balls of yarn: one for the forward pass and one for the return pass. You can use different colors to make those stitches really pop.
>> See this FULL tutorial on crocheting Tunisian in the Round.
When working in the round it helps significantly to mark the first stitch of the round with a stitch marker. I also find it helpful to always work stitches/loops onto the hook in multiples of 10. If the stitch count should be 82 for example, I know that as long as I’m adding loops to my hook in multiples of 10 that I should end with 2 open stitches before hitting the stitch marker again. Less counting!
If you’re working in the round the forward pass tends to use more yarn.
I hope you enjoyed the Ultimate Guide to Tunisian Crochet, and that you’ll have many projects completed using this fun and interesting technique.
Be sure to join the 2023 Tunisian Basics Crochet-Along! In this CAL we will learn ALL of the basic stitches and in the end we’ll have a nice, new blanket! ♥