The history of crocheting can be sort of tricky, mostly because there are so many different styles, not just of finished products, but of methods and even materials. For example, one of the earliest forms of crochet in Europe was called tambouring and required pulling loops through a background fabric, like a hybrid of crochet and embroidery.
Many think that, like tambouring, Tunisian crochet probably started somewhere in Asia, likely moving west through the Middle East before turning north into Europe and Scandinavia. Others believe that the name was coined by the French. We may never know.
But at GYI! we don’t hold crochet’s shady past against it. Today’s post is about Tunisian crochet which, like any dubious character, has many aliases: Shepard’s Knitting, German Work, Railway Knitting, Russian Work, Tricot Work, and Royal Princess Knitting.
The fabrics made through Tunisian crochet tend to be denser and heavier than other types. That’s why the Afghan stitch, closely related to Tunisian crochet, is often used to make… wait for it… afghans.
Tunisian crochet, like traditional crochet, starts out with a chain, but the fabric is never turned, and you work the same side back and forth. That’s why most Afghan hooks are longer, with a stopper on the end – you have to keep lots of stitches on them.
Tunisian crochet was pretty popular in the 1920s, and had a resurgence in the 1970s. However, much like the architecture of the 1970s, Tunisian crochet faced a wide backlash and is just now coming back in vogue as people learn that it’s not all scratchy blankets.
The Tunisian Simple Stitch makes a grid pattern, quite handy as an embroidery surface, while the Tunisian Knit Stitch is a good doppelgänger for the knit stockinette stitch. There’s even an urban legend that one woman entered a crocheted piece into a contest at her County Fair, but was disqualified because the judges thought it was knitted.
So, in review, Tunisian crochet:
Master of disguise
Craft of international spy rings (??)
Tunisian Crochet Resources
ChezCrochet has an overview of the many aliases of the technique, plus some instructions on the basics of Tunisian crochet.
Allfreecrochet.com has a compendium of tutorials and easy patterns to practice.
Free Crochet Videos has a great video tutorial with written instructions for trying your hand at the basketweave pattern, which looks uncannily like its knitted counterpart.