April 6, 2015

Beginning Tunisian Crochet

As we have previously established, the waistcoat stitch is an excellent way to replicate the look of knitting with a crochet hook, but creates a superdense, non-stretching material that tends to be very stiff. It's pretty cool for gloves and hats, but is not a good option for anything that needs to be made in flat pieces, like say, clothes or scarves.

Aside from this stitch, there is another commonly used technique for creating a knit look in crochet... Tunisian Crochet. Besides being impossible to pronounce correctly, tunisian is something that has been daunting to me for a long time. I recently had a coupon and got a Clover H 5.00 mm tunisian hook from Joann's. I also had a pattern in my Evernote that I thought would be a good place to start:
Tunisian Crochet Cowl by Rescued Paw.

To be honest, I am still confused as to why this Clover hook has two ends... I have read somewhere, I thought, that it is to make tunisian in the round with, but I cannot figure how. Leaving that aside, this hook is almost too short to make this cowl pattern with. The number of stitches just barely fits and I have trouble keeping it scrunched up to fit, while working. I am considering ordering a set of hooks online, the longer 12" ones with little nobs on the end to stop your work escaping. I feel like these would be a good investment if I decided to really try to make a full sweater from this technique.

In any case, I managed to work several rows of this technique with this hook mainly because I watched this How To video by Happy Berry Crochet. I guess I had assumed that tunisian was a single kind of stitch and that it made knit look stitches. Wrong. The simple tunisian stitch does not look anything like knit, that is in fact another stitch... called the knit tunisian stitch. Luckily, the video does a great job of explaining both and how they are different, which is to say, not very.

In any case, I decided to make the cowl in some super pretty Madeline Tosh DK in Mandala. It is just a little stretchy which helps a lot with making this stitch. I used the color changing technique by Rescued Paw to alternate between two skeins of the same color, to break up the color patterning that I feel tends to happen with variegated yarns. However, since I wanted to practice the knit look, I used the knit stitch, instead of the simple tunisian stitch as her pattern called for.
Tunisian Knit Stitch
After about 8 inches of work, I was really getting annoyed with the double ended hook. The other end kept biting into the outside of my palm as I worked. So I just went to the store and got a new longer hook. With that I was able to work with less pain and less scrunching. At this point I was pretty bored with the knit stitch and felt comfortable with it.

Even though this colorway is amazingly pretty, I felt I might be doing a disservice to it with such a plain application. So once I figured I had about half done, I decided to work in five row chunks, alternating between knit and simple stitch, to get a kind of striped texture that might be more visually interesting.
K for Knit tunisian stitch, S for simple tunisian stitch. But hard to tell right?
I did a few "stripes" of the texture/stitch switching, but the variegated color made it pretty hard to see. This piece was also doing some massive amount of curling. Obviously it would need to be blocked before it could even be remotely wearable. I found out that I was working way too tightly which caused the curl.

I started this cowl in December, but stopped working on it and did a lot of orders for people in the mean time. Like I said I was bored and new orders were more fun to do. By the time I got a lull in orders again, I had put this project down so long that I was hesitant to pick it up again. So, I ripped it out and decided to use the two skeins of yarn for something prettier than a cowl.

Getting that far into the cowl, I now understand how to do these stitches at least. The fabric created by the knit stitch is really dense, but seems to have good stretch to it. The simple stitch creates a slightly thinner fabric that might hang better on the body but doesn't have that knit look. I do think both would make a good sweater, as is my goal, but this project has served it's purpose.

Difficulty learning Tunisian: Not hard at all if you know basic crochet.