On Valentine’s Day, Dora Ohrenstein paid us a visit with swatches and samples from her new book The New Tunisian Crochet. For those who are unfamiliar with the technique, she explained that it is often described as a hybrid of crochet and knitting. Rows are worked in two passes where loops are picked up onto the needle and then worked back off again. Crochet itself emerged out of traditions of lace making and tatting in the 19th century. Tunisian crochet, which was known by names as diverse as “tricot”, “railway stitch”, “afghan stitch”, and even “idiot stitch,” emerged soon afterwards.
The first sample she passed around was a 19th century pattern by the woman who may have invented crochet, for a “Carriage boot” interestingly worked from the heel down the sides of the foot. There was a lovely ribbed scarf in LB Collection® Angora Merino. The pattern alternated between a Tunisian Knit stitch with Tunisian purl for a ribbed effect. Due to the nature of Tunisian crochet fabric, Dora explained, a Tunisian rib stitch would not have the elasticity of knitted rib. The Tunisian purl stitch is tricky and she advised wet blocking, which will even out the imperfections of the purl stitch.
Other sample that Dora debuted included a beautiful lace stole designed by Vashti Braha which utilized yarn overs for dramatic effect. Margaret Hubert contributed a fascinating mitred entrelac bag that was beautifully finished. Lily Chin made a hat and mittens worked in the round with a double ended crochet hook using LB Collection® Cashmere for the book. The decrease details on the mittens were gorgeous and the double ended hook technique lent itself quite well to a two color design.
During the question and answer session after her presentation she recommended using a hook several sizes larger than usual for your yarn in order to get a drapier fabric. Also Tunisian crochet will curl, especially the Tunisian knit stitch, but blocking and working at a loose gauge can help counteract this tendency. A helpful exercise is to work on getting 3 different gauges with the same needle to gain more control over your fabric.
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