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How to Start Your Pax Shawl

Ah, Pax.
Pax, my beloved Tunisian crochet shawlette.

This is my most popular pattern (as much because I’ve priced it to be accessible to anyone wanting to learn Tunisian lace crochet, as because I kept it complication-free purely to keep the pattern simpler for beginners).

Occasionally, I get questions about it, though, and the majority of them are to do with starting out.
Usually, I reply to beginner crocheters’ questions individually, but I thought “How great would it be if I updated Pax with a new photo tutorial?” It is 11 years old at this stage, and could do with sprucing up… so…

If you’ve got a copy of Pax, a crochet hook at the ready, and you’re not sure how to begin, let me help you out.

Today's Yarn, by the way, is Drops Flora.

It's a wool/alpaca blend that I'm currently obsessed with. It's warm, has great stitch definition and a wide range of colourways. 

And my hook, as always is a beechwood KnitPro Symfonie - this one's my trusty 5 mm.

Make Some Chains

OK, so the pattern calls for way more chain stitches than this.
I’ve made 20 chains here to demonstrate the technique, but you will be making way more when you start your own Pax adventure.

4-ply yarn and a 5 mm hook

Have you picked up your copy yet?
Click Here!

The First Stitch.

First things first, we need to take a look at our chains.
We’re going to skip the chain closest to the hook, and work instead into the second chain along.

Find the second chain…
Push hook through top loop of chain
Hook is now completely through loop on second chain

Yarn Over on your hook, and draw that Yarn Over back through the chain.
This will give you two loops on your hook –

  • The loop furthest from the hook head was there already.
  • The loop closest to the hook head is your first Tunisian Simple Stitch.
Yarn over

Draw through chain

The Forward Pass

We then do the same for the next chain along.

Important Note for Beginners: We ONLY skip the very first chain in Tunisian crochet. No other chains are skipped from this point on.

Find the next chain along
Push hook through
Yarn over…
Draw Yarn Over through chain

Every time we repeat this process, we add a loop to the hook.
When we have added ten stitches, we’ll have eleven loops in total (that includes the one that was there from the beginning)

11 loops = 10 stitches

For this tutorial, this completes our “Forward Pass”.

In Tunisian Crochet, we have two “Passes” per row of work.
The “Forward Pass” that we have just completed sees loops being added to the hook.
The “Return Pass” will see us remove stitches as we work until we are back to one loop on the hook.

Between the Forward and Return Passes in Pax we have an extra dance step to do, and it involves the next chain along on our string of chains.

Working the “Base”

I want you to identify the next chain along, work your hook into it, Yarn Over, and draw a final loop onto your hook.
A note on this loop: It is created the exact same way as all the loops before it, but its job is very different. It’s not counted as a stitch because it is, in fact, the base of the column. This will become clear as we work on.

There are now 12 loops on the hook
That’s 1 at the start, 10 Tunisian Simple Stitches, and 1 base loop

The Return Pass

The Return Pass is easily my favourite bit of this whole process.
It require far less concentration and is oddly satisfying.

All you have to do to complete the entire Return Pass is to *Yarn Over on your hook, and draw it through two loops* repeatedly, until you are left with one loop on your hook.

Yarn Over
Drawing through two loops
After the second repeat you start to see the row/colum forming in your hook’s wake

When you’re at that point, you’ve completed your row/column!

Foundation Row/Column complete

As you can make out in the above photo, the row/column we have completed has ten little rung or lines evenly spaced down its length. In the above photo they are vertical, look like little fence posts, and start at my right thumb nail and travel down the fabric to my left thumb nail.

We’re going to use these lines to anchor our second row/column.

Success! You're on the list.

Row/Column 2

Slide hook through the first of these lines, like a bolt locking a door.
We stay on the Right Side of the work for this. There’s no neeed to push through to the Wrong Side at all from hereon in.

Original loop on hook (right) and vertical line (left)

Then, same as before, we simply Yarn Over, and draw the yarn over through the line, giving us two loops on the hook.

Yarn Over
Draw through

Then, we find the next line along, and slide the hook through that.

Next line along

And we do the same thing – Yarn Over, pull through.

Yarn Over
Draw through – 3 loops on hook

Now, it’s just a matter of carrying on down, picking up loops using each of the available lines.

Ten loops added to hook for a total of eleven loops

With the Forward Pass complete, we work The Base into the next chain along:

Hook in next chain along…
Yarn Over
Draw through – 1 more loop added to hook
There are 12 in total now

With that taken care of, we get to do the Return Pass for the row/column.
That’s *Yarn Over, draw through 2 loops* repeatedly until 1 loop is left on hook.

2 rows/columns complete

Row/Column 3

With another whole row/column complete, this is what you’ll be looking at:

3 rows/columns complete

More Rows/Columns

After another few completed rows/columns, you’ll start to notice your dangling chains aren’t so dangly anymore. Each row/column uses up one at its base, and adds some strength to that edge of your shawl and helps ensure the completed shawl blocks into a gentle curve.

6 rows/columns complete

I hope this tutorial helps you get started on your own Pax Adventure!

You can find the pattern (using both UK and US crochet terms) here:

Well done!

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Thank you.

Thanks for reading.

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