Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tunisian Crochet

When I was first learning to knit and crochet...long ago in my college days.....I came across an antique lap blanket that one of the great-grans had made back in the 1800's. I was so intrigued, as I'd never seen that stitch before. My mom called it "afghan stitch" and said that it was done with a very long crochet hook. Somehow, before the days of the Internet and all kinds of information right at your fingertips, I managed to find an afghan hook and instructions for the stitch. Using the long crochet hook is so amazing--it's like the best of knitting and crochet all in one. The best way to explain it is to say you are knitting with a crochet hook. Needless to say, I was "hooked!"

What I found so interesting is that the afghan stitch makes little squares in your material. The squares are just the perfect size and shape to be used for counted cross stitch. So you knit/crochet up the blanket and then you embellish it with a cross stitch design.

I was so excited that I gathered up a ton of materials and copied the antique blanket. I must have found a pattern somewhere because my cross stitch design is quite a bit different from the antique blanket I copied.
My next project was a full size afghan that I made for my parents. It took me almost a year, and was a ton of work. I loved the process of creating this work of art, but when the year was over I decided that I could make only so many blankets. At the time, I couldn't quite figure out what else could be done with the afghan stitch besides embellished blankets, so I put my long crochet hook away and forgot about it.
Recently I'd been hearing about this new technique called "Tunisian Crochet," which interestingly enough is really just the old afghan stitch with a new name. I did a little research and discovered tons of books and patterns for Tunisian Crochet. I was really surprised to discover that the stitch I had used for the blankets--that made little squares in the finished product--is really just the basic Tunisian stitch and that there are a ton of variations. You can even use a Tunisian hook to create work that looks just like knitting.

So it's no surprise that I dug out my old afghan hook and some yarn and went to work playing around with the different Tunisian stitches. Once again I am hooked! I love using a large-size Tunisian hook and thicker yarn--the project goes so quickly and the end result is so beautiful.

The scarflette to the right was my first Tunisian project. It is made with lovely, soft organic cotton. I'm working on a few more similar style scarflettes that will be in my Etsy shop soon.