The very first crochet patterns I learnt to read and understand were ancient, Irish Crochet Lace motif and doily patterns. These patterns I found in books that had seen decades of love and use in my local library.
They had a glorious, free-flowing style to them that added poetry and joy to their instructions; you weren’t just following a prescriptive code to make the shape of a flower, for instance, you were conjuring it with wand in hand!
It seemed logical to me, therefore, to keep with that style when I began to write my own patterns.
Then I saw my first Tunisian crochet pattern (gasp!) but it was presented not in great sheets of fabric worked row after row on a long hook, but in short rows (or layers) of fabric that were termed “linked” stitches by their author.
The patterns I first saw were written like traditional crochet patterns, with stitches like single crochets and treble crochets in abundance, and the linked stitches were essentially the designer’s solution to the perennial problem of the giant, yawning gaps that exist in crochet when you use taller and taller stitches.
Few people would wear a top made of quadruple trebles without something underneath, right?!
These “linked” sticthes meant that Tunisian-style crochet was accessible to those of us with shorter crochet hooks to hand and more traditional crochet sensibilities, too.
I fell head over heels in love with this technique as it added a level of flexibility to Tunisian Crochet that I hadn’t seen before while opening crochet up to a world of techniques enjoyed by knitters.
But that flexibility required a bit of a technique and terminology shift, so when I began to write patterns for Tunisian, I discovered I needed to come up with more efficient ways of explaining the moves involved.
I could have managed with the old terms, folks, but each pattern would have been exceptionally dense and about three times as long!
For those of you familiar with traditionally-written Tunisian crochet patterns, (and those of you totally new to the joy of Tunisian) I offer this guide to help you interpret the techniques you already know and show you how they are presented in my patterns. I do hope you will forgive me for tampering with an age-old craft in this manner.
The main difference between Short-Hook and Long-Hook Tunisian is that SH is built up in a manner much like regular crochet is. It needs some existing crochet fabric to work into once you’ve picked up all the necessary loops on your hook and before you complete the second half of each column.
LH makes its own foundation as it goes by adding a chain at the half way point.
Additionally, LH is best understood as row upon row of fabric made out of individual stitches worked horizontally, but SH is best viewed as rows of vertically-worked columns in a way that will be familiar to regular crocheters.
You can see examples of each below.
My patterns are written using SH terminology, so I will walk you through a swatch of that to help familiarise you with the terms I use.
Short Hook (left) and Long Hook Tunisian (right)
The Short Hook fabric is made using 3 rows of tall, “Linked 4-uple treble” (L4tr) stitches. There are 16 L4tr stitches per row in this piece. Each L4tr is basically a quadruple treble attached on either side to its neighbour so there are no gaps visible.
You can see that each L4tr stitch is quite tall, and has 4 “rungs” down its length. That’s where the “4-uple” comes from. A taller st – say with 6 rungs from top to bottom – would be called a “L6tr”.
The Long Hook fabric is made up of 15 rows of Tunisian Simple Stitches (TSS). There are 14 TSS stitches per row. This fabric looks and acts more like knitted fabric. Each row is quite short (about 1/4 the height of the Short Hook rows) and is made of individual stitches which create a completely seamless fabric.