A Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet

tunisian crochet

If you’re looking for a new skill to add to your knitting and crochet arsenal, Tunisian crochet (also called afghan crochet) may just be the thing for you.

A Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet

What is Tunisian crochet?

Tunisian crochet can be described as a mixture between knitting and crochet and it gives you a highly textured fabric that is usually thicker than most crochet pieces. This makes Tunisian crochet perfect for bags, afghans, home accessories like place mats and scatter cushions, cowls, and more. 

What tools do you need to do Tunisian crochet?

Although it is possible to make small swatches of Tunisian crochet with a non-ergonomic grip, you really need a proper Tunisian crochet hook (or “afghan hook”) to work with. 

Tunisian crochet hooks look much like knitting needles with a crochet hook-style hook at one end and some kind of “stopper” at the other end. Newer on the market are Tunisian crochet hooks with cables of different lengths and interchangeable tips (like interchangeable circular knitting needle tips). These longer lengths give you the chance to easily work on larger projects than those without the cable extension. There are also those Tunisian crochet hooks that have fixed cables and that aren’t interchangeable.

Finally there are the Tunisian crochet hooks that have a hook on both ends of the needle. These crochet hooks are used when working Tunisian crochet in the round, for example when making a hat. This differs from “normal” crochet in which only one end needs to have a hook to work both straight and in the round pattern.

When you’re just starting out, you can get one of these or a knitting needle-type one. Once you’ve found your feet with this crochet you can then work on getting a whole set for different weights of yarn.

Do you need special yarn for Tunisian crochet?

The good news is that you don’t need a specific, special yarn for doing Tunisian crochet. However, some yarn does lend itself better to this type of crochet than others. For example, novelty yarn that is very furry or has a series of bobbles in it is not suitable for Tunisian crochet. This is because the stitches will either be very difficult to see, or the tension will not be the same throughout the pattern.

Wool yarn and yarn plain from natural fibers, like cotton and bamboo, work very well for the thicker fabric of Tunisian crochet. When choosing the yarn, a merino wool yarn, like these yarns by KnitPal, will not only give a soft and flexible fabric that you’ll love the texture and feel of, but will also give great stitch definition. When you make sure that the stitches are very defined, you’ll see the complete beauty of Tunisian crochet.

However, don’t use fibers that have a big halo, for example Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze. The reason for this is that the halo can, instead of laying on top of the work like when you’re knitting, can become entangled in the stitches – much like furry yarn – giving the finished piece an unkempt look.

If you don’t want to work with animal fibers, you can opt for natural plant fibers like cotton and bamboo or acrylics or synthetic-natural fiber blends like those by Stylecraft, Rowan, and Lion Brand.

Silk fiber or silk blends, though absolutely lovely to hold and touch, can be used in Tunisian crochet, but is very seldom used because of the large amount of yarn that’s needed to make an afghan, article of clothing, or accessory like a scarf. A small clutch bag, however, may just be the thing if you’d like to use a silk blend. 

Basic Tunisian crochet stitches and getting started

There are only a few things that you need to learn before the only limit to your creativity with Tunisian crochet is your imagination!

Note! In Tunisian crochet the front side of the fabric is always facing you and you don’t turn it over like in regular crochet. Rather, you work back and forth – from right to left as you pick up stitches and right to left as you move the stitches from the hook. These are the “forward” and “return” rows.

To start, work the amount of chain stitches that the pattern tells you to. This will form the foundation chain or foundation row.

Next, you need to work the preparation row. Do this by working through the back of each stitch. Pull a loop through each of the stitches and keep the stitch on the crochet hook as you go along. Once you reach the end of the foundation row, you will have the same number of stitches that is in your foundation row.

Work the return row by using yarn overs to pull the yarn through two stitches at a time until you reach the end of the row and have only one stitch left on the hook.

Next you need to work a forward row by inserting the hook through the vertical strands that the previous row created, pulling thread through each stitch as you go along. When you reach the end of the row, you will again have all the stitches on the hook and can work a return row in the same way as before.

Watch this great video by Toni that explains and shows clearly how to make this simple and most basic of the Tunisian crochet stitches: 

The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Tunisian Crochet by Toni from TL Yarn Crafts

Beginner Tunisian crochet patterns to try

Now that you have the hang of working this Tunisian crochet stitch, why not try your hand at one of these beginner Tunisian crochet stitches: 

5 Simple Stitches for Tunisian Crochet Beginners by Toni from TL Yarn Crafts

Here are also links to some easy Tunisian crochet patterns for you to get started with!

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