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How do I stop Tunisian Crochet from CURLING?

a small piece of light green tunisian crochet held close to the camera. the fabric is curling into a tight spiral.

Oh my gosh, the CURL! It’s the bane of a Tunisian Crocheter’s day, isn’t it?
Curing the curl seems almost impossible, but never fear! I’m here to help.

I’ve gathered up a few of my favourite solutions to this perennial problem.
Let’s get right into it!

Firstly, WHY does Tunisian Crochet curl as enthusiastically as an overly-amorous octopus?

It’s all to do with the way Tunisian is constructed.

Much like stocking stitch in knitting, most of the yarn in a row of Tunisian Crochet is concentrated to the wrong side of the fabric – essentially, there’s lots of pressure on the back of a piece of Tunisian and the front hasn’t got the strength to push against it, so the fabric curls forward.

This is more noticable in some stitches – Tunisian Knit Stitch is a particularly emphatic curler – but there are ways to lessen this tendency, and methods you can employ from the very start of a project to help you avoid the dreaded curl.

1. Choose your hook wisely.

Since the problem lies in the density of the yarn on the back of your fabric, a good solution is to help it relax by loosening the fabric all over. The simplest way to do that is to go up a hook size or two.

two pieces of light green tunisian crochet on a faded wooden surface. The fabric on the right is tightly curled, the fabric on the left has a relaxed curl. Both pieces are still attached to crochet hooks
The fabric on the left was made with a 6 mm hook. The fabric on the right was made with a 4.5 mm hook.

If you’re a crocheter who’s new to Tunisian, you may be thinking: “Won’t that result in a project full of holes?!”
Luckily, the answer is “No”.

Think of Tunisian as a knit fabric made with a crochet hook. Knitting is more forgiving than crochet when it comes to changing needle size and thankfully, Tunisian shares this trait.

So going up a few hook sizes will give your Tunisian a chance to relax and the curl will all but disappear. Remember, though, this will also result in a BIGGER finished object, so if you’re following a pattern, be sure to pay close attention to the tension info first and foremost.

Check these projects out.
They all use lace-weight or fingering weight yarn, and a 5 mm hook or larger.

2. Make a tube.

Choose a project that solves the problem by seaming the first and last rows together. You can use any seaming technique you prefer for this. The very act of sticking the first and last rows together means the curl is totally eliminated.

a small piece of green tunisian crochet that it part-way seamed into a tube. The edges of the unseamed half are curling outwards.
By seaming the first and last row the curl can be eliminated completely.

After all, if your fabric is made into a tube, there’s nowhere for the curl to curl to, right?

These patterns all feature seams that stop the curl.

3. “Block” your project.

“If you want Tunisian to stay flat, block it til it squeaks!” a friend of mine once said, and while I agree with that in theory, I try to be a little more gentle with my own projects.

“Blocking” involves submerging your project in cold water until it’s fully saturated before removing it, gently rolling it up in a towel and pressing the water out of it. (I like to roll my shawls up in a giant beach towel before standing on them barefoot. It’s a moment full of triumph for me, like standing on the peak of a mountain!)

a small piece of green crochet is pinned to a black foam surface with white topped pins. a hand on the left steadies the mat while a hand on the right inserts the final pin.
Much like the washing instruction that says to “lay flat to dry, reshape while damp”, blocking allows some measure of control over the final shape you get from your crochet.

Then, the damp project is laid out to dry using a blocking mat (a yoga mat, a child’s giant foam jigsaw, or a handy spare mattress strewn with towels are all good alternatives) and pinned in place to dry. Once dry, the fabric will retain the shape is was pinned in, so if it was pinned flat, it’ll stay flat.

Bear in mind, this technique won’t work as efficiently with acrylic/acrylic blend yarns as they don’t relax in water in the same manner. Similarly, anything particularly high in soft and fluffy fibres, like angora or cashmere, will appear to block well – even after you remove the pins – but after a short time will relax back to its original shape.

It’s best to keep those fibres for projects that don’t need blocking to look their best.

Tunisian Lace benefits particularly from being blocked.
These patterns all feature lace eyelets that pop after blocking!

4. Learn to love the curl.

Tunisian crochet is a beautiful and versatile craft, and like its cousins – crochet and knitting – there are many things it does extremely well.

If you reframe its tendency to curl into an advantage, you may be able to include it in your next project as a positive feature.
How about a rolled sleeve on your next sweater?
Or a thick cozy brim on a wooly winter hat?
You could make yourself a crochet hook holder that’s just dying to roll up and protect all your precious tools from the elements!

Or how about this cheery little tea cozy with a gorgeous curly bottom?

a one-cup teapot sits in a white wooden surface. It has a peach/pink Tunisian Crochet tea cozy on it that is gathered at the top and rolled at the bottom.
As Easy as A… B… Tea!

No fabric characteristic is ever entirely negative – it’s all about what you do with it – so if your project would benefit from a cheery curl, why go to the trouble to getting rid of it at all?

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Tell me in the comments below!
And hey, tell your friends too!


3 thoughts on “How do I stop Tunisian Crochet from CURLING?

  1. Love your work and helpful hint. Would you know of a cardigan pattern done in tunisian crochet. Something very simple.

  2. I found that alternating the simple stitch and purl stitch on the first two rows stops the curling. Then I go on with the pattern I am making.

    1. Also a good solution!
      Personally, I am not a fan of Tunisian Purl Stitch (which is why I haven’t use it in any of my patterns! 🙂 ) But it is a good solution if you don’t mind working it for a few rows, you’re right.

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