Tunisian crochet has a couple of areas that cause trouble for most of us. If you crochet tightly, starting in the back bar of a chain can be difficult. The finishing stitch on each row is another area that commonly causes trouble. There are ways to get around these problems. It requires changing how you start your project and how you hold your crochet hook.
Back bar problems
The back bar of a chain stitch is on the reverse side or wrong side of the chain. When you turn your chain to the wrong side, you will see a stitch that crosses between the chains. It looks like a bar. This is the area that causes the most problems for Tunisian crochet. You must keep your beginning chain stitch straight. Do not let it twist, or finding the back bar will become a nightmare.
Crocheting tightly makes the back bar very difficult to get a hook through. If you do manage it, the remaining bars pull tighter, thus making life more difficult. To prevent this, try holding your crochet hook in an overhand position. Make an effort to crochet the beginning chain stitch very loosely. If this is too difficult and awkward, use a crochet hook that is two sizes larger than the hook you will use for the project. Change back to the hook you will use for the project to crochet into the back bar. This creates larger stitches that no one will ever notice when the project is completed.
If you have difficulty finding the back bar, create your beginning chain stitch over a pencil. See the slide show that accompanies this article. The loops that are on the pencil are the back bar stitches. Remove the pencil and slide your hook through these loops to cast on. The back bar loops will be very easy to find. This will not impact the look of your project.
When you come to the end of a row of Tunisian crochet, you make a stitch in the chain at the end of the row. If you crochet tightly, it can be difficult to get your hook through this stitch. Make sure that you make your finishing stitch and the very next stitch slightly looser than rest of your stitches. It will not impact your work and it makes getting your hook through the final stitch much easier.
You can purchase Tunisian crochet hooks. Many times they are sold as afghan hooks and they look like giant knitting needles with a crochet hook on the end. These long hooks can be difficult to work with, especially if you are new to Tunisian crochet. A better choice for smaller projects is a wooden crochet hook or any crochet hook that has an even shaft (no thumb rest or tapering.) To use this for Tunisian crochet, wrap a rubber band around the end to prevent your work from falling off and crochet as usual. For larger projects, it may be worthwhile to invest in a set of adjustable crochet hooks that have a flexible end. This type of hook can be adjusted to many different lengths. Finally, for large blankets and afghans (casting on of or more stitches) a large afghan hook is a good choice. Beginners should start with a smaller project to get the hang of the stitches before you have to learn to manage a large, cumbersome hook.
Keeping your place
Although most people who crochet do not use a row counter, I do. Using a counter beats marking up a pattern and trying to figure out where you left off. Unlike knitting, crochet hooks easily fall out of a project. To prevent your work from unraveling when this happens, take a stitch marker or safety pin and put it through the loop that is on your crochet hook. Be sure to close the pin or marker. If your hook falls out, the safety pin will prevent the stitch from pulling out and it will keep your project from unraveling. You can also write the row number on a stitch marker so you know exactly where you left off.
Lynda Altman has been interested in needle work and crafts since she was a child. She learned to crochet and embroider before she reached high school. Crochet, beading and needlepoint are some of her favorite needle work pastimes. She writes a blog called The Granny Squared. You can contact Lynda via email or @fusgeyer on Twitter.