One Turkish crocheter says to the other, “So you crochet, right?”

The friend replies, “O, ya!”

I’m sorry.  Terrible introductions aside, today’s topic is Turkish Oya.

The word “oya” generally refers to edging, but today we’re talking about the crocheted edging, or “tig oyasi.”  If you’re really interested in making edging for scarves, clothes, or linens, Turkish Oya also encompasses other methods using shuttles, needles, and hairpins, but be warned: using needles tends to mean thinner threads!  Learning the craft can be complicated, because it’s traditionally taught person-to-person, meaning there are very few books about how to achieve the delicate, beautiful borders of Turkish Oya.

Speaking of borders, claims to the origin of the technique cross regional borders; many different regions claim to be the birthplace of Oya, and the first references date back to the B.C.E. days.  Like the Gansey sweaters, Turkish Oya may have been influenced by the fishing cultures of the Mediterranean, specifically the netting used by the fishermen.

Oya is more than just pretty edging.  Its various motifs have different symbolic meanings that come into play in regional traditions.  In Konya, in the Central Anatolia area of Turkey, an engaged woman sends a piece of cloth edged with Oya to her soon-to-be mother-in-law.  The mother-in-law is supposed to wear the cloth as a scarf at the wedding ceremony, where everyone can “read” the scarf and get the scoop on the family dynamic.  Sending someone a cloth with the “meadows and grass” edging would indicate happiness and a good relationship, while sending a cloth edged with the “gravestone” design was – unsurprisingly – an indication of a bad relationship and a dislike that endures to the grave.  The groom’s family, in turn, sends over a cloth for the bride, with a couple of Oya flowers.  The cloth becomes the headdress for the bride.

Married women who wore red hot peppers were trying to tell their husbands that they were unhappy in their marriage, while wearing a scarf edged with the “soldier” design told people that you had a loved one in the military.  And this “Oya dictionary” keeps expanding.  The “Pasha star” motif is also known as the “Zeki Müren eyelash,” after a Turkish singer from the 70s and 80s.  Meanwhile, the “Türkan Soray eyelash” gets its name from a famous actress.

Fortunately for the GYI! crocheters, tig oyasi only requires knowing a few techniques: the chain stitch, double crochet stitches, and the slip knot.

Here are a few sites to get you started:

A whole compendium of blog posts about Oya

A free pattern for “sevens” Oya edging

An eHow video that shows you how to make a chain of flowers

These sites were major sources addressing the history of Turkish Oya:

Nordic Needle

Couch Crochet Crumbs




The blog is back!  And just in time to report on some of the exciting things going on at Gosh Yarn It!


  • 21-and-overs had the chance to head to the Punderdome, NYC’s monthly pun competition.  If you missed it, see above re: Punapple Express.

  • Last week was Random Acts of Kindness week, and GYI! distributed handmade flowers to brighten Columbia University’s campus.



Did we leave anything out?  Keep checking back for more updates!

The Mysterious Tunisian Crochet

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:

Mysterious past

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.

Blog News

New series alert!  This semester, our blog will be featuring posts about the history and culture of knitting and crocheting.  From Fair Isle Sweaters to Japanese Amigurumi, yarn has a very diverse following all over the globe.  Since New York is the center of the universe, you shouldn’t have to travel to the ends of the earth to learn about them – although if anyone wants to go on a whirlwind world tour to hit up fiber capitals, that’s something we at GYI! can definitely get behind.


We can travel by sheepback!

Speaking of activities we fully support, if any Columbia University fiber artists want to write a post to be featured on this blog, drop us a comment below or send an email to elc2149@columbia.edu.  It can be a single post, a semi-regular series, or whatever your little yarn-lovin’ heart desires!

On a related note, if you want to share any completed projects or in-progress projects, do send in pictures and pattern details along with anything you want to say about the piece.  For example:

Hi my name is Friendless Baxter, I’m working on a large knitted owl as a gift to myself, and here’s the link to the pattern: http://www.purlbee.com/2011/09/22/whits-knits-big-snowy-owl/

We’ll whip up a quick post about it, and you could be FAMOUS because of your crafting efforts!

Keep watching the blog for more posts, and happy yarning!  Stay warm out there!

Technique Tuesdays: A Journey into the Past…

From 1999 to 2012,  September to June, this yarner spent 8 hours a day (or more) in plaid.

My highly flammable schoolwear was scratchy, it felt like cardboard, and the overlapping blue, green, red, and yellow stripes marked me with a flashing “CATHOLIC SCHOOL KID” sign wherever I went.  Since starting college, however, I have learned that there is life outside the polyester plaid I knew for so long.  Now, I can appreciate a good wooly plaid (not to mention brown penny loafers) for its autumnal, preppy outfit possibilities.

Which is why today’s Technique Tuesday is about plaid.  Specifically, how to crochet something plaid.

This tutorial comes from Crochet Kitten.  It requires a rather clever weaving of individual chains through a crocheted canvas.

Check out that striping.

There are quite a few steps, with great, very detailed photos to guide you, so we won’t post them here, but by all means, take advantage of this great how-to.  Have fun!

Technique Tuesdays: Border Up!

Today’s crochet comes as a part of Le Monde de Sucrette’s “Olé Olé Blanket”which is presumably named for the bright colors and pompom accents of a Matador’s costume.

The border for her blanket creates a fringe that rings her vibrantly striped blanket, but that is much neater than a tasseled border.  It would be great for the edges of a scarf, blanket, or even a pillowcase!  It may also for a “sexy matador” costume for this Halloween.  Or a “sexy lampshade”?  Or you could skip the whole “sexy [profession or random object]” and go as a ball of yarn.

However you choose to use it, the full tutorial is here.

Technique Tuesdays

Good news if your Halloween costume plans were to dress as:

a) an artichoke



b) a crocodile hunter



c) an actual crocodile




d) an acorn


Because today’s technique is the crocheted Crocodile Stitch!  Here’s a great tutorial, plus pictures, from Rachel Lendyak-Peters, of crochetspot.com.  Thanks!

Begin with a chain with the number of stitches a multiple of 6. (You may find that in some patterns this will be a different number – like a multiple of three.) But by working in multiples of 6, you’ll have the right number of scales in the alternating rows to make a nice, straight edge.

After your chain has reach the desired length, chain 4 more.

Then double crochet into the forth chain from your hook.

You’ve just formed the first post. Next you will chain 2, skip 2 stitches, and then make 2 double crochets into the next stitch.

Repeat this pattern: chain 2, skip 2, 2 double crochets into the next stitch, until you’ve finished the row.

Fabulous! You’ve completed the first foundation row. I’ll refer to each set of 2 double crochets as a post. From this point, you will be doing a row of scales, foundation row, scales, foundation, etc.

Turn your work and chain three.

You will be double crocheting down one side of the post and up the other to form the scale. You will need to feed your hook under the first double crochet and up through the middle between the double crochet posts.

Make 4 double crochets down the first post (the first chain of 3 counts as a double crochet, so essentially you have 5 double crochets). Then chain 1.

Again coming under the second double crochet towards the middle, you’re going to make 5 double crochets coming up the second post.

Chain 1 at the top and you’ve completed your first scale!

Skip the next post and repeat the 5 double crochets down first post, chain 1, 5 double crochets up second post, chan 1. Skip the next post, repeat, and so on until the end of the row.

Now you’re set to make the next foundation row. Turn your work, chain 3 and then double crochet into the space between the 2 double crochets of the previous row.

Chain 2 and make 2 double crochets into the top of the next post, catching the chain 1 that you made between the scales.

Continue the chain 2, 2 double crochets pattern across the row.

Turn your work. Chain 1. Skip the first post and begin the scale in the next post. 5 double crochets down, chain 1, 5 double crochets up, chain 1; Skip post and repeat.

When you reach the end of the row, slip stitch into the middle of the last post.

Turn your work. Chain 3 and begin the next scale exactly like you did on the first scale row. Keep repeating this pattern.