I set out to finish off the last of my Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino last weekend. I had two skeins of black and one and just over a half of gray plus 44 grams of size E seed beads in assorted reds. My goal was to think outside my usual box—I wanted to try something new, something neither knitted nor crocheted, at least not with my usual stitches or techniques.
That’s when I remembered the two Tunisian Crochet hooks I received from my mother-in-law a decade ago. Yes, I’ve had them for 10 years and haven’t yet really learned to use them. Back then, I crocheted exclusively. I hated the feel of yarn on knitting needles under my fingers. I got as far as two rows of Tunisian Simple Stitch before stashing those two hooks away and just about forgetting about them. Seven years ago, after taking up knitting, getting over the feel of yarn on the needles, and falling in love with knitting, I tried again. Tunisian crochet didn’t thrill me then, either, so I tucked those two hooks away once again.
I pulled them out once again this year. Tunisian Crochet turned out to be that something new for which I was searching. I spent the better part of Friday night and Saturday day on Tunisian Simple Stitch, Tunisian Knit Stitch, Tunisian Purl Stitch, and Modified Tunisian Drop Stitch. Thrice, I worked up my gray and black yarns into the beginning of a narrow scarf of about four inches (16 cm) wide by 18 inches (46 cm) long. The edges of the first version were kind of wavy. I kept adding one to many stitches then doing one too few. Counting stitches turned out to be the first important skill I needed to practice.[su_pullquote]Tip #1:In Tunisian Crochet, count your stitches to keep the rows even.[/su_pullquote]
The second time around, my rows were consistent, but the whole piece canted, like it wanted to be diamond-shaped instead of rectangular. I was using primarily a Modified Tunisian Drop Stitch with a 5.0 mm hook by then. I thought maybe the drop stitch was somehow causing the cant. Plus, the beads only wanted to land on the back of my work. Getting them into the long drop stitches was seemingly impossible. On the happy side, I discovered beading done well is one really wonderful option for creating a reversible Tunisian piece—the back side of Tunisian crochet looks quite bumpy, like a whole lot of purl stitches: Not very pretty in the pattern I was working. The beads turned my thoughts on the back side of Tunisian Crochet around.[su_pullquote align=”right”]Tip #2: Use a Knit 1, Purl 1 ribbing for a thick, luxurious, reversible piece.[/su_pullquote]
The third time, I tried using some Tunisian Double Crochet stitches on the ends of each row to offer some balance, hoping they’d mitigate the cant. When that didn’t work I tried some standard crochet rows using double crochet stitch. Neither worked. That’s when I remembered having a similar problem with a knitted piece years ago. Back then, as I suspect now, it was all about the twist of the yarn. No matter what I did, I was going to get that cant, at least with Tunisian Crochet. So…
I knitted up a simple ribbed scarf much like the peach and gray one I made in my first Use That Stash! project. Knit 1, Purl 1 ribbing creates a reversible piece with a flat surface akin to a stockinette but that doesn’t curl. It also offers a thicker than you’d expect piece, making the lightweight yarn I was working with seem fuller and more luxurious than it was. This time around, I used what I learned in that last project to place my beads. The result is a more evenly beaded scarf. That, I like. This one is more narrow than the last, only about 4 inches (16 cm) wide, and it’s long, about 75 inches (190 cm). Plus, the weight of the beads stretch it a bit as it hangs. Wearing it, I almost feel a bit like a 1920s flapper.
With the last 20 grams of black yarn I had left, I worked up a set of Tunisian Simple Stitch and Tunisian Purl Stitch gauntlets to go with the scarf. I worked them flat then seamed them and finished the upper and bottom edges with a line of crochet chain stitch. Why they didn’t cant, I don’t know. My current theory is this yarn didn’t mind the shorter stitch I used for the gauntlets but just couldn’t abide the longer version I initially tried for the scarf. That, or the single strand of yarn I used for the gauntlets played nicely with Tunisian crochet while the double strand of yarn I tried initially on the scarf didn’t.