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Guest Blogger: Sharon Hernes Silverman, author

September 23, 2014

Sharon Hernes Silverman is the consumate professional; she sets the bar high for all of us! She is efficient, does what she says she's going to do with deadlines she has agreed to. She is confident in her knowledge and expertise and precisely shares with others.

A designer, author, and instructor based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, she is a professional member of the Crochet Guild of America and a design member of The National NeedleArts Association. You can find her at website, RavelryFacebook and Pinterest. Read what she has to say about her love of Tunisian crochet here in tandem with my blog today in which I review her seventh book, Tunisian Crochet for Baby.

Sharon Hernes Silverman

Gwen: Share with us a bit of Tunisian crochet history.
SHS: “The craft known as “Tunisian crochet” has been around for centuries, although the exact time and location of its origin is unclear. It is also known as afghan stitch, shepherd’s knitting, and tricot knotting. I think of Tunisian crochet as a hybrid of knit and crochet.”

Gwen: How did you learn the technique and when?
SHS: “I first came across Tunisian crochet while browsing through a stitch dictionary about eight years ago. I started with a swatch of Tunisian simple stitch, and worked my way through every Tunisian stitch in the book. I couldn’t believe what was coming off my hook! That started my exploration of all things Tunisian, which is still going strong.”

Gwen: What about Tunisian crochet intrigues you?
SHS: “First, a confession… Although I love crochet in general, I am not a fan of the rivers of double crochet stitches with which too many garments are designed: too bulky, too loopy, poor shaping. When people say they “don’t like the look of crochet,” I think those are the kinds of patterns they are reacting to—and I’d have to agree. Garments like that give me flashbacks to those awful vests from the 1970s.

Tunisian crochet presents an opportunity to create a totally different kind of fabric. Loops are added to the hook in one direction, and worked off in the other direction, so the stitches are connected to each other horizontally as well as row to row. Because of this unique construction, the resulting fabrics are different than anything you can create in regular crochet. Some of them look knitted or woven. It’s perfect for cables and for intarsia/Fair isle, and for entrelac.”

Gwen: What are the pros and cons of using Tunisian crochet:
SHS: “Pros:
Versatility. Tunisian will add all sorts of new fabrics, stitch patterns, and techniques to a crocheter’s repertoire.
Flexibility. Tunisian crochet’s reputation as being thick and bulky, suitable only for afghans, is undeserved. With the right yarn and hook combination, and a well-chosen stitch pattern, you can make everything from fine openwork lace to warm garments. I think the craft should have a motto: “Tunisian crochet; it’s not just for afghans anymore!”
Speed. Tunisian crochet seems to go really fast.
The ability to create a fabric that looks knitted, for those of us who are rudimentary knitters.
Fun! It is impossible to keep the smile off my face when I am doing Tunisian crochet. Something about it is exceedingly enjoyable.

Cons/challenges:
The first row tends to curl. To address this, mix in some Tunisian purl stitches (Tps) on that row, or do the entire row in Tps. (You can also do the first two rows in single crochet if that will work in your finished piece.) Steam blocking also helps relax the curl, as does using a slightly larger hook than you would ordinarily reach for.
Tunisian knit stitch has a knitted look on the right side, but a ridge on the wrong side. That makes the resulting fabric thicker than regular knit fabric.
Since all of the loops on a given row are on the hook at once, it can get quite heavy if you’re making a large piece. I find that a Tunisian hook with a flexible plastic extension, rather than a long solid hook, means that I’m not carrying all that weight on my forearms.”

Gwen: What is it about Tunisian crochet that makes you want to promote it in your books?
SHS: “Tunisian crochet isn’t a fad. It is as bona fide craft that is attracting the attention of top designers. That makes it an ideal time to learn—beautiful new patterns are being published all the time! For people like me who are more comfortable with a crochet hook than knitting needles, Tunisian crochet hugely expands the kind of fabrics we can make, and the projects that are accessible to us. I’d love to have others discover how exciting and fun Tunisian crochet is.

There are a lot of great resources available, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of them. The Tunisian crochet groups on Yahoo and Ravelry are good places to start. Check out the video tutorials on YouTube as well.”

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