Tunisian Crochet Patterns: Five Basic Rules

About Tunisian Crochet Patterns

Standards in Tunisian crochet pattern writing are less developed than those for other crochet patterns. I hadn’t noticed this until I began publishing my own Tunisian crochet patterns. When I write a non-Tunisian crochet pattern, I check with the industry’s official yarnstandards.com site and usually find everything I need, from yarn weight descriptions to skill levels and crochet stitch symbols. The important thing about this is that I feel confident that other professional crochet designers are using the same site as they write their patterns too. This helps all crocheters.

When writing a Tunisian crochet pattern, however, there is no widely known and accepted standard list of Tunisian stitch symbols, or skill levels. Sure, a Tunisian pattern that requires no shaping is rated easier than one that does need shaping. It gets pretty fuzzy which Tunisian stitches worked into which stitch loops are more intermediate or advanced than other stitches. Ask ten Tunisian crocheters and you could get ten different answers.

The Five Peaks Shawl with Tunisian eyelet border; image © F+W Media.
Five Peaks Wrap: Tunisian pattern in Interweave Crochet, Spring 2010.

Example, pictured: the Five Peaks Wrap pattern was rated Easy when it appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of Interweave Crochet Magazine. It is 90% Tunisian Simple Stitch (the beginner’s stitch), and in most of the rows, you do the same thing over and over. However, this bias-crocheted L-shaped wrap is such a different experience of Tunisian crochet that in retrospect, it should probably have been rated Intermediate.

I’m also finding out as I teach Tunisian crochet classes that the best way to arrange the sections of a Tunisian crochet pattern, and write certain things, differ from what works for non-Tunisian crochet patterns. Unless the only thing going on is Tunisian simple stitch, crocheters struggle much more if the list of Tunisian pattern abbreviations is on a separate page. (It requires one to flip back and forth between pattern and abbreviations list.) It also seems to be easier to forget at least one of the five rules, or default pattern conventions, below. (I don’t think these have been widely available to crocheters.)

The Five Rules of Tunisian Crochet Patterns

How many of these do you always remember, even if they’re not explicitly stated in an Intermediate-level Tunisian crochet pattern?

  1. Each complete row consists of two steps: a Forward Pass (when you put loops on the hook) and a Return Pass (when you work the loops off of the hook).
  2. The fronts of your stitches face you at all times; you do not turn your work at the end of a Forward Pass or Return Pass. (Unless specifically instructed to.)
  3. Aquarienne breaks usual Tunisian crochet pattern conventions
    Aquarienne breaks Rules 3 & 5.

    The single loop on the hook at the beginning of every Forward Pass counts as the first stitch of the new row. You do not chain to begin a new row. (Unless specifically instructed to, such as for taller stitches.) You also do not work into the very first stitch along that beginning edge of the row (Unless you wish to increase stitches.)

  4. The last stitch at the other edge of the Forward Pass is worked into two edge loops, not just one. It results in a nicer finished edge. Also, work this last stitch more loosely to match the beginning edge stitch, which naturally and unavoidably loosens as you complete the row.
  5. At minimum, a Tunisian stitch has a front vertical bar, a back vertical bar, and 3 horizontal bars at the top of the 2 vertical bars. (Taller and compound stitches will have more stitch loops.) Imagine what this means: you can work into not only 1 of 5 different loops of a stitch, but any combination of these 5…or into the space between two stitches…time for me to go swatch some ideas.