This past month I used Tunisian and slip stitches to crochet bunnies flat, rather than in the round. Make two, seam together, and stuff for 3D bunnies. Leave flat for appliqué!
Compare all the shapes in the photo above and below: there are some side-view silhouettes (the yellow wool bunnies) plus several marshmallow candy style bunnies in light blue Lotus yarn.
Two are stuffed, but all started out flat. The stuffed white wool bunny (above far right) uses the square method: I crocheted a flat square of inverse slip stitches, and then seamed and stuffed it. (I followed this tutorial for a knitted square bunny.)
My informal and rather obsessive online research tells me that 95% of all the crochet amigurumi (stuffed toys) are single crochet stitches in the round. The other 5% are single crochet flat, in rows. It’s easy to know which were crocheted in rows because the texture is very different from rounds with no turning. Crochet designers Donna & Michaelene rock the flat method with single crochet.
Internal or External Shaping?
When you crochet bunnies flat, all the shaping happens at the beginning and/or end of a row; never in the middle of a row. This is external shaping. I’ve liked this kind of crochet ever since I swatched lots of shaping techniques for my Slip Stitch Shapes and Special FX class.
External shaping should be an elementary challenge, but it depends on the stitch and the shape. Each row might be different from the rest. I bet crocheters rarely do it constantly for a whole project, though. See my free heart pattern. It’s an easier shape than a bunny because you’re adding or subtracting no more than two stitches at a time.
New to external shaping in every row? Use the short stitch you’re most familiar with: single crochet (sc), slip stitch (sl st), or Tunisian simple stitch (TSS). You need to be able to easily count your rows and stitches. For most people it’s single crochet.
Crocheting any shape in the round (other than a straight tube) requires internal shaping. It kind of depends on the crocheter how basic that is. It’s probably easier for those who started early on with granny squares, flowers, and other motifs in the round.
Slip Stitches, or Tunisian Crochet?
I found no examples of TSS or sl st crochet bunnies, flat or otherwise, except this sweet one in Tunisian knit stitch (TKS). (You’ll need a Ravelry account to view it). I decided to do side by side bunny comparisons. Yes, I went down a rabbit hole.
I used the same chart size for each blue bunny. The Tunisian bunnies are much bigger! After making several sl st bunnies, the forward and return passes of Tunisian felt like double the work for the same bunny. Compared to sl st fabric, the return pass seemed to add padding and height to the stitches. The TKS one also feels heavy. It has so much more yarn in it than the others.
Of the three blue sl st bunnies, the inverse front loop one (far right) has the most height. I used it for two bunnies in the first photo above too: the smaller yellow silhouette, and the white bunny from a square.
TSS is similar to using sc. Besides being of similar height, it’s easy to count rows, especially the TSS rows. Both prevent stuffing from showing through (so does sl st). Unlike sc and sl st, Tunisian stitches do lean, but more weakly than it appears. The lean readily blocks out.
Tunisian crochet has a few strong advantages over sc and sl st. There is no turning, so following a charted shape is the easiest. Another big advantage is when edging the shape. I like to edge flat shapes with a round of slip stitches before I seam them together. Crocheting into Tunisian row ends is a joy. “Joy” isn’t the word that comes to mind when crocheting into row ends of sc or sl st.
Update: I’m so inspired by your comments! Your comment may take a few hours to show because they go into a moderation queue.
I’m giving away a copy of the new Delicate Crochetbook by Sharon Silverman to a randomly chosen commenter on this post. You’re welcome to enter even if you live outside of the USA. If you win and you have a non-USA shipping address, you’ll receive a free downloadable crochet pattern of your choice instead. Scroll down for the book giveaway details.
Over the holidays I “riffed” on the patterns I wrote for Delicate Crochet. I’ll explain how, in case you have (OR WIN!!) this book and want to riff too.
Zegue is a simple wrap version of the Ziggy Vest. I used up scraps of fancy yarns in my stash. In Ziggy’s case the armholes are cut into the self-healing stitch pattern. I omitted that step for Zegue. (I could still add a hole later, such as for a one-sleeve wrap, or for a keyhole scarf style like I did for the pink Mesmer. Or go with my original idea: add a seam at each end of the long sides to create tubes (sleeves) for a shrug.)
Yarn: I had one small ball each of the four Stacy Charles Fine fashion yarns I used. (See Zegue’s project page in Ravelry for the yarn facts.) One of them has sequins so I had to use it. Using a mix of yarns for the Ziggy stitch pattern was really fun! I’ve always wanted to do a stripy scrappy ripple, especially in Tunisian stitches.
Crochet Hook: I used the 7.0 mm Addi Tunisian crochet hook from my shop; the Ziggy Vest calls for a 6.0 mm size. A 6.5 mm for Zegue would probably be just as lacy though you might need a few more rows and additional stitch repeat or two.
Finished Dimensions: 14″ x 57″ (35.6 x 144.8 cm), measured flat and blocked. I like wearing it as a wrap. For a shrug option I might add buttons. It weighs 71 g. and I had about a quarter of the Luna mohair and Crystal left over.
I chose the length of each row to match the length from my wrist over the shoulders and across the back to the other wrist while my arms hang at my sides—an easy measurement (57″/144.8 cm). This is because I thought I was going to turn it into a shrug. I just kept adding rows until my forearm would fit through the sleeve tube if I seamed part of the first and last row together; I’d need a minimum of about 9″ (22.9 cm). I figured the yarn amount would get me at least this far.
Foundation and Row Repeats: You’ll need the Delicate Crochet book for the actual Ziggy pattern (starts on page 140). Here are my changes for Zegue:
I chained 178 with Color A (Stella).
Row 1 forward pass (FP) is also Stella, and then I changed to Color B (Luna) for the return pass (RP) and the Row 2 FP. Fasten off every time you change yarns.
Row 2 RP and Row 3 FP: Change to Color C (Céline).
Row 3 RP and Row 4 FP: Change to Color B (Luna).
Row 4 RP and Row 5 FP: Change to Colors C+D (Céline & Crystal held together).
Repeat the color sequence of B, C, B, C+D for a total of 16 rows; for Row 16 RP change to Stella. Complete Row 17 FP and RP with Stella and then fasten off.
Edge Row 17 with a strand of Luna and Crystal held together: Single crochet (sc) in first FP stitch, chain 1, slip stitch (ss) in same sc, sc in same stitch, *chain (ch) 1, sc in next FP stitch, ch 1, sc in next stitch group, ch 1, sc in next FP stitch, [sc, ch 1, ss in same sc, sc] in next FP stitch, repeat from * in each remaining FP stitch of row. Fasten off.
Attach Stella to first foundation ch. Working along the other side of the foundation, sc in first ch, ch 1 and skip next ch that was not used by a FP stitch, sc in available loop of next used foundation ch, repeat from * in each remaining stitch of row. Fasten off.
Attach Luna and Crystal to first sc of Stella. Edge this row the same way you edged Row 17.
Yvelino the Paneled Ring Scarf
For this version of the Yveline Wrap I used four colors of lace weight Icelandic wool, one ball per color. See its project page for the yarn deets. I loved this yarn; it’s very “sticky” and almost bristly or wiry in a way that works great with this airy bias-worked net.
Crochet Hooks: 5.0 mm (H) Tunisian hook; for the surface-crochet I used a regular 3.5 mm (E) crochet hook.
Finished Dimensions: 13″ wide with a 58″ circumference (33 x 147.3 cm). It weighs 100 g. so I used only half of each ball. (I thought I might want to add a lot of surface crochet, so I reserved yarn for that.) Instead, I like the texture contrast zones.
Foundation and Row Repeats: You’ll need the Delicate Crochet book (starting on page 133) for the actual Yveline pattern. Here are my changes for Yvelino:
Chain 58 in Color A. Complete 33 rows. Edge the last row with sc.
Slip stitch Color B to the bottom right corner foundation chain of the previous panel. Chain 58. At the end of the Row 1 FP, slip stitch in the first FP stitch of Row 1 of the previous panel and then complete the RP as usual.
Repeat this join-as-you-go process at the end of every FP until you’ve completed 33 rows. Edge it with sc like the previous panel.
Repeat the above with two more panels. For the last panel, also join-as-you-go the first FP stitch of each row to the last FP stitch of the first panel you completed to create a ring. (Or you could seam the first and last panel sides together to for the ring as a separate step.)
Adding the Frills: The only thing different from the book is that I used a 3.5 mm (E) crochet hook, and surface crocheted a column on each side of the joins.
Oh the Resources Buried in Crochet Patterns
I hold onto lots of crochet pattern books and “mine” them for interesting stitch patterns (love those stitch symbols!), shapes (love those schematics!), and construction methods (love the rare assembly diagram!).
The stitch texture combinations, color contrasts, or styling ideas in pattern books are also inspiring.
Ravelry takes this into account so I know I’m not the only one who uses books this way. (When creating a new project page, there used to be a box you checked if you improvised from an existing pattern. Now you can choose additional patterns if you’ve incorporated elements from them.)
Delicate Crochet offers hours and hours of riffing on its interesting stitch patterns, shapes, and styles, thanks to the range of designers represented—and thanks to all the stitch diagrams and schematics.
Book Giveaway Details!
I’ll use a random number generator no earlier than February 18 (Monday, President’s Day) to choose from among the commenters to this post.
There may be two winners: one with a shipping address outside of the USA as well as within it. If the first winner has a non-USA shipping address, the prize will be a free downloadable crochet pattern (winner’s choice). I will then draw a new number randomly until the new winner has a USA address to which I can ship the book.
To contact the winner(s) I will do these three things: comment on your comment with the news, and announce the winner’s name (as it appears on your comment) in my Ravelry group, and at my Facebook page. I suggest you opt-in to receive alerts of responses to your comment in case you’re a winner.
Your comment may respond to my question, “What crochet book would you like me to write?” (as explained in my newsletter #97), or at least be crochet-related. I reserve the right to remove spammy comments as always.
Commenting more than once does not improve your chance of winning.
This is the gauge swatch from the new Eilanner Shawl pattern, but I used tencel thread and a giant hook for kicks. So airy! It inspired me to try draping it on a mannequin different ways. View full size.
I released a new Tunisian crochet pattern the other day. There’s a lot going on in it! I think of the design as containing modules of mini-patterns. Some of them hint at new stitch patterns.
Seeds of New Stitch Patterns
Often if you change one thing about a stitch pattern you can get a whole new effect that’s cool enough to count as a new stitch pattern. (This would be a good newsletter issue, come to think of it…) Here are some I swatched while Eilanner was being edited, and the things I changed to generate them. I posted them to Instagram.
Change the Yarn and/or Gauge
An obvious way to get a new effect with a stitch pattern is to use a dramatically different crochet hook size, or yarn thickness/fiber type, or all of these (as in that first image above). Super summery look! Reminds me of tall grasses.
There’s something else going on with it too: it’s really just a gauge swatch pattern. The skill level for Eilanner is Experienced. Getting the exact gauge is not important for the pattern but I thought it would help some crocheters to focus on just the main stitch pattern without the fancy edging at both row ends and the constant increasing.
By the way, if you’re interested in Eilanner but worry it’s too challenging, work up to it with its predecessors. Shakti is like “Eilanner 101” and Islander is “Eilanner 102”. (I named Eilanner after Islander.)
Repeat a Special Stitch Group All Over
Another way to do a stitch pattern spin-off is take a stitch group and repeat that. Here’s Eilanner’s “tattoo flower” eyelet group repeated as an all-over motif.
This right here is a fraction of the possible new stitch patterns to generate this way! For example, the eyelets could be grouped differently, or stacked in columns instead of spread out in an alternating way. Moving eyelets around is an art form in itself.
I woke up this morning with another idea for a stitch pattern that will probably show up in Instagram once I swatch it up. (The way Instagram displays images helps me contemplate designs.)
Isolate One Key Stitch
Not every stitch pattern has a key stitch to isolate. Eilanner does, though: the shallow-extended stitch I blogged about last week. The swatch below is pretty rustic and it’s not easy to see what is different about the stitch, but have a look.
It’s kind of loose so that I can see what the stitch texture is doing. I chose Icelandic wool for this because I love that the shallow-extended stitch is like a reversible and non-curling version of Tunisian Knit stitch.
If you like seeing my experimental swatches, follow me in Instagram where I tend to post them first. And please tell me what you like or don’t about them! It inspires designs and class topics.
Last week I used a new Tunisian crochet stitch to swatch up a few letters of the alphabet. You can see four of the letters above. (The background is something I crocheted for the kitchen years ago.) Just look at what I can spell! I also made an ‘L’ to spell LOVE. I’ll explain how to do the cool Tunisian stitch below.
I’m working on a newsletter issue (#95!) about COLOR. It gave me the idea to crochet a “poster” background for the letters using as many of my Lotus yarn colors as possible.
Does the stitch pattern of the background look familiar? Maybe not—it’s rarely done with color changes. (Not sure I’ve ever seen it in more than one color. I think it’s traditionally thought of as an Aran crochet texture in off-white wool.)
I used this stitch pattern for the Chainmaille scarf, in just one color. The shiny alpaca-tencel yarn gives it a very different look!
For the poster, just use four pattern repeats of the Chainmaille scarf. For the flatter middle section where the letters go, I did the [ch 1, skip next ch-space, sc] part of the stitch pattern across each row for about 18 rows, then resumed the Chainmaille pattern again. Use a shallow single crochet instead of a regular single crochet if you know how. (Keeps the background a bit denser.)
The Tunisian Stitch I’m Excited About!
I don’t know what else to call it but a shallow extended knit stitch.
First you must do a row of Tunisian Extended Stitch (ExtTSS or as I much prefer to call it, TES). It’s how you crochet the next row into them that turns them into shallow extended knit stitches.
For the alphabet letters I did just one row of TES into the foundation chains: skip the chain nearest your hook, insert your hook under the bump loop of the next chain, yarn over and pull up loop; at this point you’d leave it on your hook for a TSS. Chain 1 and it becomes a TES. To continue, [insert hook under the bump loop of the next chain, yarn over and pull up loop, chain 1] in each remaining chain of the row.
Standard return pass: chain 1, then [yarn over and pull through next two loops on hook] until one loop remains on the hook.
Have a look at your TES row. Compare them to TSS. The chain-1 you added to each TSS doubles its height and adds a horizontal loop on the back of the stitch. See it? See how it resembles the horizontal loop on the back of a single crochet stitch? (See this blog post about that “third loop”.)
To do a row of shallow extended knit stitch: chain 1 to begin the row (count as first stitch), *insert hook knitwise (between the front and back vertical bars) and under the lower horizontal “bump” loop (as seen on the back) of the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, chain 1. Repeat from * in each remaining stitch of the row.
Return pass is the same.
As with all occasions when you’re crocheting shallow stitches, the looser your gauge is, the easier it is to pick up speed crocheting them.
Final update of this page is in progress, please check back. View the high-res image. This is a conveniently clickable group of things I mention and display in Tunisian Crochet on the Diagonal classes. I teach the next one on July 27, 2018 in Portland OR. I show a huge amount of published and unpublished crochet designs in this class including new, never seen! Each illustrates the stitches and techniques learned. — Vashti Braha