tunisian crochet resources

Over the past few years, I’ve fallen in love with Tunisian crochet. It was a long time coming. Honestly I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner. When I was a child, I wanted to learn to knit and couldn’t figure it out. My mother couldn’t and said it was “too hard” so she hated it. We both knew Tunisian crochet could look like knitting, however, the few resources I found back then didn’t make sense to me.

Once you figure out the rhythm of it and learn what parts of stitches to work with, it’s a fun new form and creates fabric that is unique. I really love how it plays with colour.

I’m so smitten I recently designed a crochet cowl — multimesh. The way it’s worked up blends colors into a cohesive and colorful whole and without it looking muddy. The colors retain their vibrancy due to the nature of the Tunisian crochet stitch. This design is worked up Artyarns worsted weight Silky Twist, using a “Duos” kit and a full length skein, approximately 440 yards/440 meters total.

There’s many resources online and a few new books out that show I’m not alone in falling for this crochet technique.

Resources

Edie Eckman is an excellent teacher and creates remarkable videos. In the two I’m linking here, she explores the Tunisian Simple Stitch for both Right-Handed and Left-Handed Crocheters.

the book title is in red and green. nine swatches primarily in oranges, reds, and yellows are laid out in a 3x3 grid on the white cover.

Kim Guzman of CrochetKim has been working with Tunisian Crochet for years. I’ve been able to borrow her book, Tunisian crochet stitch guide, from my public library. Published in 2013 it shows basic stitches, colorwork, and lace. While it may look dated when compared to publications from the past few years it is a useful book!

model wearing tunisian crochet wrap of light blue, grey, orange, and teal wrapped around their body. the title of the book is super imposed in white text.

If you’re looking for a more modern guide, Toni Lipsey’s 2021 title, The Tunisian crochet handbook: a beginner’s guide is lovely. It’s available from Hoopla if your library subscribes to that service or through a local bookstore or your yarn shop. It guides you through the basic essentials and includes 20 modern looking projects. The page layout makes it easy to skim or read closely. The swatch and tutorial photographs are clear and bright. Tutorial steps match the photos and I know I almost expected them to move they felt so right as I worked with them. The section “Adding Color” is where I first saw two-toned stripes and fell in love. I think this is a useful title no matter your Tunisian crochet skill level.

the title is above a flat lay of balls of pink yarn, a swatch on a hook, and four other swatches laid out to show different stitch options. the pallet is pink to the top and left and then shifts to yellow, greens, and blue.

Once you have mastered the basics – what other stitches can you make? Yes, it’s possible and fun to play and design your own. My preference is to first comb through a dictionary for inspiration. Some times I’ll create a new combination of stitches and at others I’ll create a new variation based on another stitch. If you love stitch dictionaries like I do, then the Tunisian Crochet Stitch Dictionary by Anna Nikipirowicz will be a useful addition to your shelf. There’s a clear photo of each stitch, it’s charted, and many of the steps are laid out with clear tutorial photos to help you figure out how to work them.

Tools

I’m working on adding more products to the shop, including Tunisian hooks. I struggled to find some when I was swatching for multimesh. Please sign up to my newsletter to be informed when I add them to the shop.

Book Review: The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches

We know that I have a thing for stitch dictionaries. I’m especially fascinated by crochet pattern libraries because I didn’t know they existed for the first decade or so I crocheted. The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches is the book I wish I had when I first started to figure out how to do more than crochet granny squares.

It is a beautiful and clear guide to crochet stitches and useful for both beginner and experienced crocheters alike.

Everyone will appreciate that each stitch includes both written instructions and a chart. The photographs are clear and highlight not only a complete swatch of the stitch, but many of the steps are shown to help you successfully work it.

The book covers a range of stitches, and they are grouped by type of stitch; this allows you to quickly turn to the section you might want. There are basics which include not only the standard stitches but also fans and shells, clusters, puffs, and popcorns. If that weren’t enough there are examples of spikes, raised stitches, waves, chevrons, and textured stitches. I can keep going, there are 200 stitches in all. There are also mesh and filet as well as other lace and open work stitches, you can also explore Tunisian stitches, colour work, and finish off with eleven different edgings! Finally, there is an illustrated tutorial section that shows tips for changing colors, fastening off and weaving in ends, and more.

The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches is a useful one for any crocheters bookshelf.

Book cover: The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches. The background is a tan woven type perhaps paper background. There is a teal ball of yarn in the upper right. 6 swatches are spread on the left showing different stitches.

The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches

By Tracey Todhunter

January 2019 | Interweave | 192 pages | ISBN 9781632506573

Notes: The book is published in the UK by Search Press Ltd as 200 More Crochet Stitches. This review was initially published in a slightly different form at NetGalley on 08 April 2019.

Book Review: Reversible Two-Color Knitting

I’ve long been fascinated by fabrics (and garments) that are reversible. My interest is in large part practical—I’m adept at hiding coffee stains with accessories—but it’s also because I prefer multi-functional items.

When we knit, we often encounter instructions that indicate the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ side. This word choice can have unintended consequences, not only may the reverse be intriguing, but it can also cause a new knitter to think something is improper or incomplete with the fabric. I experienced this myself. Many years ago, after gifting a lace project that taxed my skill, the recipient fell in love with what I considered was the wrong side. It took many years (and observation of ready-made fashions) to understand that the preferred side didn’t matter. That’s when my interest in reversible knit stitches was formed.

There are several stitch dictionaries and websites that can help you to determine the characteristics of a specific stitch. This list of Reversible Pattern Stitches in Barbara G. Walker’s Treasuries is a useful resource for those who own the first two volumes.

The dictionary reviewed below is one I’ve borrowed from the library many times over the years. I was able to add it to my personal collection after finding it at a used book sale recently. I think it’s a book that’s worth adding to your bookshelves if reversible knit stitches are something that you find interesting.

Two-Color Reversible Knitting Stitches

By Jane F Neighbors

Scribners, 1974.

Find a copy: worldcat


As this is a knitting book from the 1970s, it requires some patience to work through. Neighbors has compiled a clear and well written collection of reversible stitches. While some of the garments look dated by today’s standards, the stitches all still work!

The book begins with an introduction to the basic techniques. Then there are three chapters covering different types of reversible knit stitches: simple, chain, and geometric. After the stitches, several projects showcase reversible fabrics in different designs—some accessories, a sweater, vest, and some home decor. The book closes with additional tips on yarn selection, dealing with edges, seams, shaping, working in the round, as well as designing your own geometric patterns.

Example Entry

Example stitch from Reversible Two-Color Knitting, page 13. "Textured Stitch".
Entry for Textured Check, an opposite reversible knit stitch

For every stitch, there are clear black and white swatch photos accompanying the written instructions, also showing the reverse if it isn’t a complete reversible. Many entries include tips and hints for success, including indicating if use of DPN is necessary. In every case, the reversible features of the fabric are described: true, opposite, alternate, upside-down, mirror, and “unclassified” (almost a true reversible). The details also include the number of stitches for the stitch and suggested cast-on color. Some of the terminology may differ from current standards, but it’s consistent and I believe straightforward to rewrite if desired.

Additional Thoughts

As my interest is on the stitches not the patterns, I don’t have much to write about the included projects. The samples look dated to my eyes, but I know that with modern color choices and some small tweaks to shaping, they might look lovely today.

If you are truly curious about reversible stitches this vintage stitch dictionary is worth checking out.

Book Review: Twisted Stitch Sourcebook

There’s something about twisted knit stitches that I adore. Perhaps it’s because I began my knitting life by unintentionally twisting them. It took my first project in the round (a pair of socks) for me to understand why what I created was different from a store-bought sweater. I love that this stitch can be used with purpose and create beautiful combinations.

A year ago, one of the last books I checked out from my public library before lockdown was Twisted-Stitch Knitting by Maria Erlbacher. I was thrilled to have extra time with this book and a gorgeous hat in Oink Dapper resulted from my study, sketches, and swatches. However, as I worked to translate my scribbled notes into a pattern written to modern conventions, I became stuck on two questions. How to describe the method of twisting the stitches? How to chart them so a modern knitter wouldn’t be faced with a completely new set of symbols?

I set the pattern aside until my brain was able to work through these challenges.

I’m still working on that but have a great helper now in Norah Gaughan’s newest book, Twisted Stitch Sourcebook. The subtitle speaks truth: it as a breakthrough guide to knitting and designing.

How? This book is has three main parts, but before you get there, Gaughan shares techniques for successfully working twisted stitches on both the right and reverse side no matter how you knit. She also helps you figure that out by examining not if you pick or throw, but more importantly how your stitches are arranged on the needle.

There’s also a neat feature here which I believe premiered in her other book, Knitted Cable Sourcebook. It’s called Percentage of Stockinette Stitch, or PSS. This number helps you figure out how much pull a stitch will have on the completed fabric. This is very useful for a garment you may want to have stretch and freedom of movement, such as a hat. It’s also very useful if you want to substitute one stitch with another.

Part I covers 126 stitches and they are grouped by type, beginning with basic diagonals and progress through different combinations that build upon the prior section (chapter): small, horizontal, vertical, compass (all directions at once), eyelets (open up twisted stitches); finally taking it to the extreme where there are twisted stitches on every row — much easier when worked in the round. Gaughan also shares how to work polygons of twisted stitches.

Each stitch explains how it was created, and if it builds upon a prior stitch (or stitches) and what some characteristics of the fabric are. There is a clear photo of each swatch. The instructions are provided in both charted and written form. Each swatch includes both the PSS and information about the repeat. Most swatches are condensed to one page so there is no flipping to continue instruction. I am in love with the sketch stitch (number 115). I have yarn wound to work up a practical swatch (aka a cowl).

Part II shares fifteen patterns. I mostly skipped over these for now as I’m still in the basic swatching stage. When I look to create something more complex, then I will review this section to see how the parts play together.

With that in mind, I’d love to work up the Sketch Coat, but I’d change the instructions to work it in the round with steeks. I’ve been trying to work this swatch flat and working twisted stitches on the wrong side isn’t something my brain likes to do.

Part III helps you learn how to design your own twisted stitches. This section is where you can learn how to put together different elements on a knitter’s grid (twisted states are shorter than they are wide), this will help you visualize how the chart will appear knit up. There are also other grid patterns that will help you shape the designs with use of diagonal grids. There’s even a blank chart that can help you design a yoke, hat, or hexagon. The final chapter includes the gem of this book, ten lessons of tricks Gaughan learned while putting together this amazing stitch dictionary and the designs.

Where this volume differs from Erlbacher (I think, I borrowed it from the library and can’t find my notes) and the Japanese stitch dictionaries is these twisted stitches don’t increase or decrease. Garments that require shaping ask you to work affected stitches with basic shaping methods and stockinette instead.

Overall, this is a delightful volume that would do well as part of any knitter’s stitch dictionary shelf.


Book cover for Norah Gaughan’s Twisted Stitch Sourcebook

Norah Gaughan’s Twisted Stitch Sourcebook: A Breakthrough Guide to Knitting and Designing
By Norah Gaughan
Abrams Books, Published January 12, 2021
Availability: Bookshop.org | Indiebound.org | Worldcat.org

Swatch Library Project Update & Stitch Dictionary Review

Today as I work on new swatches and tidy up my notes, I am refining how I organize my information. I have a stack of stitch dictionaries and a large mug of tea to help me prepare for future swatches. This post covers two topics. It includes an update to the Swatch Library Project and a review to a comprehensive stitch dictionary.

Array of stitch dictionaries, swatch, swatch worksheet arranged on a desk, and the tail of a sleeping black cat peeking out from behind a window curtian

Swatch Library Update

Over the past few months as I worked on my swatch library, I realized there are some details I want to know at a glance. Specifically, what was my purpose while creating the swatch? Was my intent to learn about the yarn, evaluate a stitch, practice a technique (which one), is it a repeat of another swatch with a needle or yarn change, is it a gauge swatch, or is it some combination thereof?

With that in mind, I added this quick categorization to my free worksheet. It is the only change to the document and the new version is now 2021-01-01. If you missed the introductory post, it is Swatch Library Project, First Steps. I’m continuing to refine the overall project and hope to release more updates soon.

First page of the swatch library project worksheet printed and folded in half. Details are Yarn Over New York Yarn in Brookyln Bridge (Worsted weight), Queen Bee color. The yarn is $26 a skein and 100g are 199m/218yd. This is a 4ply 100% superwash merino. The swatch is to learn about the yarn, evaluate a stitch, and work a technique. Paper is a pale yellow and the swatch is a rich honey gold with tons of tiny speckles in warm browns and reds.

I don’t often match my printer paper to my swatch, but it’s a nice touch.

Stitch Dictionary Review

Book cover - 1000 Japanese Knitting & Crochet Stitches

If you are looking for one stitch dictionary that covers a range of knitting and crochet stitches to help you build your stitch library, I highly recommend 1000 Japanese Knitting & Crochet Stitches. It is published in Japan by Nihon Vogue and in the US by Tuttle Publishing and translated by Gayle Roehm.

While originally published in 1992, this collection of stitches is timeless and classic. Now fully translated into English, you no longer need to puzzle through the Japanese to figure out complex stitches. I’ve had my eye on this book for years and am thankful for Roehm’s work to make it accessible to English readers.

About Japanese Stitch dictionaries

For the uninitiated, most Japanese chart symbols are standardized. Complex stitches build upon the simple ones which makes them easier to read. One thing to be aware is that most charts include a symbol for every knit ([ | ]) and purl ([ – ]). This can make the charts look more complex than what many of us are used to. Crocheters are likely be more familiar with the symbols used as their use due to the wide adoption of this style of stitch diagrams. Please note that other than in the technique review section, there are few written instructions, each stitch is provided only as a chart.

Inside this volume

In this dictionary, you will find a collection of 700 knitting stitches including combinations of knits and purls, twisted stitches, lace, cables, color-work motifs, and more. If that weren’t enough, there’s no need for a separate crochet dictionary! There are 300 different crochet patterns covering grids, textures, colors, and edgings. If you aren’t sure how a stitch works up, there are many clear line drawings which step through and illustrate common techniques. Additional information is also provided to improve your interpretation of variations to these basic stitches. For each stitch you will find a clear color photo, the stitches and rows for the repeat is clear, and the chart is next to the photo, no need to hunt or flip pages. Some of the designs will be familiar if you have other Nihon Vogue stitch dictionaries. The advantage is they are all here in one book.

Ask your favorite bookseller or yarn store if they can help you buy a copy. It’s also available to libraries digitally through hoopla and OverDrive.


As a bonus for today, here’s a picture of my cat Shadow, snoring while I edited this post! There’s a wall heater directly below him so it’s a very cozy windowsill.

Photo of black cat, named Shadow stretched out on window sill mostly behind a curtain. there is a wire running across the upper part of the frame, it extends the FM radio antenna.

stitch dictionaries, new and old

When I’m stuck for ideas I pick up a stitch dictionary. I’m always on the look out for new ones. Sometimes new means they were published years ago and it’s my first time exploring them. Those that have gathered dust are also given a second chance. Why? While many of the stitches are consistent across books, seeing a stitch in a different can open up possibilities.

Recent bookshelf additions

book cover: Knitting Counterpanes by Mary Walker Phillips book cover: Knitting Encyclopedia: 1500 Patterns, Needles (Penguin Mon Tricot New Special Yearly Edition OJ87)At a recent library book sale, I picked up two stitch dictionaries, Knitting Counterpanes by Mary Walker Phillips and Knitting Encyclopedia: 1500 Patterns. I am fascinated by the work of Phillips. While counterpanes aren’t something that excite me right now, I find inspiration in how they pair different stitches together. The 1500 Patterns book was a whim, it was only $2 so I knew I was getting my money’s worth! It’s a pamphlet from the mid 80s, the photos and printing aren’t the clearest. Even though the instructions aren’t in the current standard written abbreviations, I’m inspired. There are many stitches I’ve flagged to swatch for potential future projects. Why? Sometimes it’s the name of a stitch or the fabric a stitch creates that cause an idea to swirl enough that I’m running for needles and yarn to begin a swatch.

Recent library checkouts

These are at the mercy of hold lists, availability, and the number of times I can renew them! If I find myself checking a book out frequently, I purchase a copy of my own. Recent checkouts include Japanese knitting stitch bible : 260 exquisite patterns by Hitomi Shida, translated with an introduction by Gayle Roehm and Alterknit stitch dictionary by Andrea Rangel. These are stunning books, please see Franklin’s review.

Older titles often find their way home with me too. It’s important to show the circulation system that these books are important. Sometimes I even check out books I own to try to keep them on the shelves. Recent examples include The knitting all around stitch dictionary : 150 new stitch patterns to knit top down, bottom up, back and forth & in the round by Wendy Bernard and Norah Gaughan’s knitted cable sourcebook. Yesterday Vogue knitting stitchionary 5. Volume five, Lace knitting followed me home (along with eleven other books I want to read). Why? It was there, spring has me thinking of lace, I could reach it without looking for a step stool, and I opened to a spread that paired two stitches in a way that had already been itching at the back of my head.

Recent review

This is a new crochet title, and it made me want to run off, acquire all the colours, and make crochet motifs. The review also appeared in the Spring + Summer 2018 edition of Knitty.
book cover: crochet kaleidoscope

Crochet Kaleidoscope: Shifting Shapes and Shades Across 100 Motifs

by Sandra Eng

Color and crochet motifs go together like peanut butter and jelly. However, it’s often challenging to visualize how different color combinations can transform a motif.

In Crochet Kaleidoscope, Eng provides clear photos of 100 motifs and explores how they look with different choices. After learning basic color theory, you can find answers to common questions from “how many colors are too many?” to “does order matter?”

Included are several home decor and accessory projects to help you begin your color journey. All motifs include both written instructions and stitch diagrams.

Disclaimer: I received an eARC this title from NetGalley in exchange for reviews. The FTC wants you to know.