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6 Beginner-Level Tunisian Crochet patterns to get YOU started

a small pink tea cozy cover sits on a small pink one-cup tea pot

The Fasten Off Yarn Along is currently in full swing, and I’m heartened to see how many people are using the event as encouragement to try out a “new-to-them” craft.

I see knitters jump on the crochet band wagon, I see weavers wading through lace knitting, and many people expressing an interest in Tunisian Crochet as their next big adventure.

A Beginner’s Paradise

To help you along your way, I have compiled a list of Tunisian Crochet patterns I’ve designed that I think are perfect for your first forray (or your 5th!) into Tunisian Crochet.

Luckily, ALL of these patterns can be made with a regular length crochet hook, so there’s no need to invest in a long Tunisian-style hook for anything I’m about to show you.

Crocheters, I guarantee you have all the tools you need to hand, and knitters, I bet you have a crochet hook lurking somewhere in the bottom of your stash that you use to pick up dropped stitches.

Ok, so with hook in hand and yarn picked out, let’s dive in!

Hey! Knitters!

The perfect starting point for you is the ever-popular Ishrat Hat.

It starts off with a soothing, and a familiar knitted garter stitch brim to ease you in.
You then add some gorgeous Tunisian Simple Stitch on to it to create the textured crown.
The construction is fun, and the hat itself takes less than a skein of your favourite sock yarn.

The pattern comes with a suite of Helpful Tutorial videos that takes you through the entire process.

All Simple Stitches

Another great first make is the Tea Beanie Tea Cozy.

This pattern is straight up Tunisian Simple Stitch from start to end.
This stitch is the one everyone learns first, so this project is a wonderful opportunity to get the basics down right from the start.

Because of its simple construction, the Tea Beanie is infinitely modifiable to fit your personal tea pot (or your head, if you seam it up entirely! Who doesn’t love wearing a tea cozy on their head, eh?!)

This cozy as written takes about 100 m of worsted weight yarn (or 100m each of fingering weight yarn, doubled for a great stash-busting project) and you could easily get this done in time for Christmas.

Crocheters!

If you know how to make a single crochet (US) stitch or a double crochet (UK) stitch already, then you already KNOW how to do Tunisian Crochet.
Tunisian Simple Stitch uses the exact same dance steps, just in a slightly different order, so crocheters… you got this!

Great beginner patterns include:

Pax

I designed Pax specifically to be a tutorial for beginners, so there are no unwelcome surprises.

I have taught Pax at many yarn festivals over the years, and it has become the introductory pattern for So. Many. People into the wonderful world of Tunisian.

I’ve kept the price super low, too, to ensure it’s accessible to everyone.
The only commitment you need is a little of your time.

Finola

The reviews for Finola are in, and they are glowing!

Finola is made out of a series of wedge shapes, so once you have the first one complete, the rest flow on in a logical pattern.
This one is great for anyone who loves a good jigsaw, as the pieces all fit together in a soothing and satisfying manner. You’ll find yourself saying “I’ll just do one more wedge before bed” more than once!

Finola comes with a suite of How To videos on Instagram. Click here to see them before you buy.

Nuada

Nuada is one of my personal favourites.
It is made in layers, with each layer made out of Tunisian Simple Stitch.

The two main layers contain simple-to-learn lace eyelets.
This shawl is easy to modify, too. You can make it longer by adding more lace repeats, and make it wider by adding more layers to the centre.

Discount Time!

And don’t forget to use your FO2021 discount on these patterns, (and a whole range of other ones, too) before the deadline on the 6th of December.

Happy Crocheting, everyone!


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Show me yours and I’ll show you mine

This is my stash, folks.
This is the entirety of it, save for a few tiny scraps I’ve likely forgotten down the back of the couch.

On the left I have animal fibres; mostly wool and alpaca for the projects I’m working on right now.
And on the right is cotton; used for my ongoing series of animal amigurumi which my Patreon peeps are well familiar with.

The reason I’m showing you this is to help counter a little of the inadequacy I’m sure some of you feel when Social Media dazzles you with the absolutely massive hoards of luxury yarn accumulated by some lucky crafters.
You know the Instagram Reels I’m talking about, right?

“You mean, that’s not a yarn shop?!”

The fact is, collecting yarn can be an expensive hobby completely aside from knitting or crochet.
And without a healthy income most makers can’t afford those kinds of hoards. Most of us buy what we need when we need it and only get as much as we need. Most of us budget and substitute for cheaper yarns and wait til our next pay day to hit “Purchase”.
Most of us use what we have to hand first.

You just don’t see people showing their small stashes on the internet so frequently because there’s no glamour in it. So, I’m showing you mine.

This is how I work; I design the thing, calculate yardage, add a ball (just in case!) and place an order.
I then get the yarn, I make the thing, and when I’m done I have maybe half a ball left over. That half ball eventually finds its way into a separate project, so there’s very little left on my shelves to show for it.

Yarn passes through my work space oftentimes without leaving so much as a footprint. It doesn’t have much time to mingle on its journey.

So, the yarn I have right now on the shelf is either gift yarn, work yarn which will be gobbled up by the design monster in short order, or left-over bits I’m keeping around for secondary projects.

Now, don’t got me wrong here. There is nothing at all wrong with having enough yarn to cover all the major land masses on a medium sized planet. Would that we all could! I gaze at those images with avarice and envy same as everyone else. In quiet moments, I dream of diving into a pit of yarn and doing my best Scrooge McDuck impression. I’d literally never surface.

But for many that’s all that can be; a fantasy. And it’s for them that I’m showing my tiny stash.

If I, a literal professional full-time designer with lots of yarn-dying friends and over 100 patterns in my back catalogue only has this much in my stash right now… well, I hope it helps you feel better about your collection.


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Handmaking my world

Lately, I’ve been trying to settle on a colour palette for future clothes making endeavours.
I’ve been researching, reading colour theory, comparing eras…

If you’d told me I had ALREADY chosen a colour palette, I’d have disagreed. But here I am, organising my winter hand mades and clearly… CLEARLY… I have already decided.

Muted secondary colours it is, I guess!

This is a collection of knitting, crochet and machine sewing. Each piece is designed and drafted by me, made by me to my taste out of fabrics and yarns I’ve chosen for texture or colour, or dyed til I was satisfied.

Each piece is made to fit me.

I’ve no sizing information. No idea what size each one corresponds to in real terms. They each make me comfortable in my skin because they conform to me, not the other way around and there’s power in that.

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Quick and Cozy Makes for Autumn

Autumn in Ireland is a mad awl caper.
Yesterday it was 22 degrees and the sun was splitting the rocks. Today, we’ve got hail stones clattering against the skylight with a wild fury.

This time of the year, I find, is the hardest to dress for. There’s a saying in Ireland. “If you don’t like the weather here, wait five minutes!”

So, the solution inevitably becomes a question of layers:
Bring a hat you can take off if the sun god decides to return with a vengence. But don’t forget your shawl in case the north winds whip up a squall and send you shivering for shelter!

These are my 4 favourite patterns for “crazy weather crochet”.

Sunny Hat (below left) is an elegant blend of a knitted garter stitch band and segments of Tunisian Simple Stitch.
Added bonus, you’ll find a crochet version of the knitted band here, if you’re not feeling knitterly inclined.
Use Dusty Dimples Dusty Sock yarn in colourway “Foxy” to get that gorgeous golden glow.

Red Currant Shawl (above right) uses Tunisian Knit Stitch and a 4.5 mm hook as a starting point, then the fun begins with a mosaic of interlocking Simple Stitch squares. You can use a variety of hook sizes on this one to add extra depth and drape to the finished product.
Mine is made with a firm favourite of mine, Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply.

Lop Top (below left) is the odd one out in this bunch – it uses ALL traditional crochet techniques. Yes! This autumnal tee is made using Back Loop and Front Loop single crochet stitches.
I made mine with Twilley’s Of Stamford DK yarn.

And Morrigan (above right) is my absolute hero whenever there’s a sudden outbreak of bad weather.
Made with a lace weight wool, it’s light and portable, but it packs a punch nevertheless.

Make this one with Cushendale Lace yarn for some added ruggedness. Morrigan is the outer layer you’ll never leave home without.

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Is Good Enough good enough?

I’ve been pretty quiet on line lately.

It’s not that I haven’t been working. Not as such.
But I have been finding it almost impossible to work in the way I used to. My creative conveyor belt has a kink in it for the first time in decades and it’s proving to be a challenge to straighten out.

You see, we’ve had a few minor emotional blows lately, and with the background effects of the pandemic adding daily stressors already, these minor blows have felt more like mountains than molehills.

In the past I’ve spoken at length on the effect of detriorating mental health and an increase in stress and negative emotion on our creative flow. In a nutshell, the more stress we’re under, the more our monkey brain thinks we’re being stalked by a tiger, and the less importance the monkey puts on pausing to admire a beautiful sunset or a pretty flower.

If we’re worried, we don’t create so well. Pretty simple.

Oddly, though, for me the bottleneck right now isn’t so much in the ideas department – I have plans, folks, ooooh, I have plans. It’s the “the sitting down and working out the maths” department where I’m having the problem instead.

The nature of the emotional blows I’ve faced have been rooted in childhood traumas and I get the impression that that is making me feel less confident in my abilities than usual.
I’m starting to obsess too much (as I did as a kid) about things being perfect and about the possibility of “getting in trouble” or angering people if a pattern is a little fiddly, or not as clever as I feel it should be.

Case in point:
I’m working on a mitten pattern for Tunisian Crocheters that I am SURE will knock your socks off IF I can just figure out this thumb.

I’m stuck on the construction of this last puzzle piece and have been for over a month. As I’m essentially reinventing the wheel, I keep getting stuck in the Shit Writing Vortex*, and it sucks.

Man, does it suck.
I hate this feeling.

I am so excited to show you what I’ve been at as I sit quietly in my bubble and create, but I’m also scared in a way I haven’t felt in decades. It’s right in my gut and I’m not sure how to get over it.

Do I keep working on the thumb until I have full confidence in it?
Or do I say “Good Enough is good enough” and hope for the best?

Neither options feel good right now. I feel a bit bereft.

What would you do?
How’s your head feeling these days?



*Oh sure, the sample LOOKS good, but you know it’ll be a nightmare for people to follow the pattern with such a dogpile of techniques and exceptions in such a small area.

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Yarns I’ve Used – 2020

Let’s go chronologically, shall we?

You can click straight through to all their websites by tapping on their names,
and if you’d like to learn more about each pattern just tap the image instead!

Townhouse Yarns Fade St. 4-ply

While you’re here!
Join my mailing list here for exclusive content, discount news and helpful updates.
I won’t pester you very often, and as a Thank You, you get a copy of Ishrat‘s PDF pattern when you sign up.

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A note about my pattern-writing style

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.

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An American Wake

The 1840’s saw the first postage stamp, the start of the covered wagon trains to California, the publishing of Jane Eyre, the invention of the telegram and the rubber band.

In Ireland, by the middle of the 1840’s a potato blight called Phytophthora infestans had started to wrap its deadly fingers around the staple crop of the Irish people. Soon after, those dependant on the crop started to starve and perish in droves.

Not long after that, as matters worsened, waves of emigration began from Ireland towards the US. The journey was long – often taking months – expensive, and one way.

To those left at home it was almost akin to losing a family member to death. They were sure they’d not see them again. The only solace to be found was in the funerary tradition familiar to every Irish community; the wake.

Growing up, I had assumed this was something every society did to some extent. It was quite a surprise to discover it isn’t.
It’s a gentle, caring and dark practise whereby the desceased is not left on their own the night prior to their funeral. The community comes together to “Wake” the person, often in their own house with the coffin open and set on the sturdiest table in the best room.
Food is served, drink taken, the room containing the dearly departed is filled with candles and flowers and people mill in and out, embracing, speaking in hushed tones, touching their lost love’s face, praying and speaking of them with kindness and honesty in small groups.
Stories will be told, jokes will be repeated, tea, sandwiches, hankies and biscuits will be liberally handed out. Sometimes, as the night grows longer, music or song might make an appearance; traditional balads or a favoured pop song will be sung with gusto.

It is a cleansing ritual as old as time to us here in Ireland.

But as the island emptied of its eldest sons and daughters in the 19th century, a new form of this tradition emerged; The American Wake.
All the hallmarks of a regular wake were present with one stark exception – the dearly departed was alive and present.

They would be embraced by their community, given little gifts to protect and help them on their journey, they’d be told tales of those who had gone before them to give them courage, they’d be given advice, reminded that they are loved. They’d wrap their arms tightly around their parents and younger siblings, promising all the while to start sending money back for the next eldest’s ticket as soon as they could.

There would be tears, songs, hushed goodbyes, keening and long farewells and as hard as these wakes could be, they no doubt helped everyone involved to get through the pain of separation.

I have family all over the US today, and while their American Wakes would have happened to a less dramtic extent – and before I was born – I do still understand the gulf that that distance can bring to a family. My aunts and uncles “coming home” from America was a thing that’d happen every half decade or so.

As a child I remember how odd it was that my father’s siblings in the US spoke with a New York, Californian, New Jersey and Michigander twang. My American cousins seemed so impossibly cool with their graphic tracksuits, walkmans and cosmetics.

And every time the American contingent flew back across the Atlantic to their proms and cliques and high schools I witnessed and participated in a reduced American Wake. After all, we wouldn’t see them again for years and years. Who knew if we’d ever see them again at all? This could be the last time. Sometimes, it was.

And this feeling is something I’ve been dwelling on lately.

Since Covid-19 forced me into lockdown in February, my nephew has learnt to talk and drink from a cup, my niece is speaking in full, articulate sentences, my family dog has passed away, my mother has been ill. I’m only down the road – an hour’s walk at most – but I may as well be in America for all the contact I have had.

It’s odd to look back on history, half a year since I last touched any of them, and wonder if all this distance would be easier to process if we’d had a wake for me first.

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Sweater Season

As Storm Ellen buffets and blasts the willow tree in my garden and shakes the bejeepers out of the last raspberries that cling to their free-swinging canes, I sit inside my home listening to its ferocious gusts. And my mind turns to knitting.

I know, dear reader, I am more known for the hook than the needle, but as Ireland’s weather patterns shift inexorably from warm rain to cold rain, I find my fingers itching for the simplicity of a knitted jumper once more.

Every year I make one. Just one.
And it simultaneously comforts me to know I’m taking care of Winter-Aoibhe’s cold bones and soothing Autumn-Aoibhe’s frantic need to prepare all the things.

Do you think they’ll miss a few dozen?


I get decidely medieval during weather like this. Suddenly every single fruit on my neighbour’s crabapple tree that overhangs my small veg patch is precious, every boysenberry yet to be picked is ripe with urgency, every germinating winter veg and maturing spring veg seed is a lifeline. Thoughts like “This will see us through the winter” and “I’ll be glad of this in January” pop up time and again as I gather fruit to make wine and jam, and chase a few intrepid spiders off my berry hoard with juice-stained fingers.

This summer’s lettuce left to seed for next year.

Never mind that we have ample supplies of both in the local grocery store, or that they deliver so I needn’t even go out and face the possibility of catching the plague. There is just… something… about putting the labour in to prepare for the weather and darkness to come that strikes me as fundamentally, instintually important.

“I’ll be glad of this in January” is at the front of my mind with every stitch too and I know I won’t be content to face winter 2020 until I have cast on.

I don’t go fancy. I prefer to keep my knitting simple. So, usually I just work a garter stitch band til it fits around my waist, pick up along its selvedge and knit upwards. Raglan decreases are perfect – I can watch TV and barely glance at what my fingers are doing – but a little stranded colourwork is not out of the question, either. Doesn’t it make for a cozier jumper after all? And it’s great if you’re stash busting and haven’t enough of any one colour lying around.

I’ll be glad of these come January!


It’s been my autumn ritual these last 6 or 7 years.
Gather berries, Make wine, Knit jumper. Face the storms.

This year, I get the sense I may need to make more wine than usual, though. And maybe fit in a second jumper along the way.

I’m not the only one prepping for the colder months, I see.
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Translating English into English

“I only speak US”.
I’ve heard time and time again from people at Trunk Shows and yarn events when they come to talk crochet with me. It’s a common refrain across the internet, too; a pattern language is learnt, internalised and ownership of it is established as a crafter learns the crochet “ropes”.

Bilingual crafters like myself end up translating ourselves for the multitudes to be assured of being understood.
I have resorted to explanations like “the little square stitch, you know, the one that is as tall as it is wide” or “The one you don’t yarn over at the beginning for,” to describe a double crochet, for instance (single crochet for USians)

Or “the most common Granny Square stitch”, to describe a treble (double crochet for USians)

– See? I’m doing it again.

And I get it. I absolutely understand why people would hold on to their first language like a badge of honour. I do too. I take it as a sign of my longevity in this industry that I learnt crochet pattern writing in books so old that the UK version of the stitch names was more common. I’m also a sucker for a lost cause.

The popularity of the US version has certainly taken off with the advent of the internet, and the ever-growing number of people teaching that version on YouTube. And cool, sure, OK.

Crochet being such a young craft, it’s not surprising that we haven’t all settled down to using the same words for our stitches yet. Crochet really only began to emerge as a thing in the late Victorian era (late 19th Century), examples of whereas knitting – a far more venerable craft – have been found in Egyptian tombs.

Homogenisation is not a bad word, and eventually we will all begin to speak the same language but it’s myopic to accept it as a given and not work to preserve the past while we still can.

What a pity will it be, after all, when all those ancient patterns are no longer understandable to future generations. What a sad day it will be when the immense wealth of art and creativity our foresisters accumulated is consigned to the dust bin for being unintelligible.

And how disappointing it is that so many designers don’t bother to cater to both languages now when it is so easy to do.
If you “only” speak US, how many opportunities are you missing out on, you know? Why ignore an entire course at a banquet laid out especially for you because you aren’t familiar with the cutlery?

So. Here we go, folks.
Here’s how I translate my patterns from UK to US using the “Find and Replace” tool that’s available in every Word Processor and piece of Layout & Design software out there.

If you use Word, Open Office, Apple Pages, whatever, it’s in there. Find it, then do the following.

First things first: Luckily, slip stitches are universal, so we can ignore them.
They’re ss or sl st to everyone. Phew.

If possible, select “whole word” as an option, so you don’t have to wade through every word with a t and an r next to each other.

Note: if you are the one writing the pattern, be sure you leave spaces like this: [2 dc] in your notation. [2dc] may not register as a thing to find in your programme.
Additionally, be sure to keep an eye on what your programme is doing. Do not hit “Replace All” if that is an option, or you may turn words like “trying” into “dcying” and confuse the life out of everyone.

UK to US (see US to UK below)

Tip: Start with the smallest stitch and work up.

Find: dc Replace with: sc
Find: htr Replace with: hdc
Find: tr Replace with: dc
Find: dtr Replace with: tr
Find: ttr Replace with: dtr
Find: dc2tog Replace with: sc2tog
Find: dc3tog Replace with: sc3tog

In your abbreviations: (this is best done manually)
Find: double Replace with: single
Find: treble Replace with: double
Find: double treble Replace with: treble

US to UK

Tip: Start with the largest stitch and work down.

Luckily, slip stitches are universal, so we can ignore them.
They’re ss of sl st to everyone. Phew.

If possible, select “whole word” as an option, so you don’t have to wade through every word with a d and a c next to each other.

Find: dtr Replace with: ttr
Find: tr Replace with: dtr
Find: dc Replace with: tr
Find: hdc Replace with: htr
Find: sc Replace with: dc

Find: dc2tog Replace with: sc2tog
Find: dc3tog Replace with: sc3tog

In your abbreviations:
Find: treble Replace with: double treble
Find: double Replace with: treble
Find: single Replace with: double

Lastly: Want to translate a pattern you found online or in a pdf?
Select and copy the text, then paste it into your word processor.

No pattern is now beyond your understanding.

Please do bare in mind, though, that translating a pattern doesn’t mean you own that version. Translating is a thing you can do to broaden your personal horizons.
– If you bought that pattern, do not distribute your version.
– If the pattern was free, be sure the designer gives explicit permission to you before you go about distributing their work. Include clear credit and do not sell it. No contact from a designer is a “no”.

Support creative professionals.