Crochet Challenge: Try a new technique

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Week 22 challenge (07-30-14):   Try a new crochet technique this week. It's your choice: felting, broomstick lace, hairpin lace, tunisian, thread crochet, etc.

Years (and years) ago, I worked on an afghan made with the tunisian afghan knit stitch using a long solid afghan hook.  Dear daughter #2 has put in a request for an afghan done in the same stitch, with a butterfly design x-stitched on it.

 Butterflies in Flight Tunisian Stitch Afghan(This is not my afghan).  It is a pic on the cover of the pattern.  It is what I hope mine will look like!  (Click the pic for more info).

Actually this will be two new techniques:  (1) X-stitching on crochet fabric, and, (2) because of the number of years ago and needing to use a flexible hook (with the cable on the end), I'm calling doing the tunisian a new technique.

The pattern in the book says I'll do the "afghan knit stitch".  However, the instructions given are for the "afghan" or "simple" stitch.   When looking online for information, the knit stitch was also being referred to as the "afghan" or "simple" stitch, or used to be, so it is confusing, because the two are actually different.  To find out which is what, the following examples are from (the one I'm doing is the one on the right):

Tunisian:  The Test and the Tantrum

Here are four practice rows.  There are 187 stitches on the hook.  It was harder than I remember!  It's not hard mentally.  What's hard is getting used to the "new" physically.

Image - Beginning rows of Tunisian Simple Stitch on Flexible HookIt is different using a flexible hook instead of a solid one.  At least as far as my feeble memory recalls.  Yarn covers the entire hook, so it can't be twisted or maneuvered, because it slips underneath the yarn.  The cable has a mind of it's own and wants to flop in the direction it was packaged in.  And getting used to the different hold makes the fingers and hands cramp.  Waah.
Pic of Susan Bates Flexible Afghan Crochet Hook
I bought a Susan Bates 22" flexible hook, but the cable's stiff and wants to do it's own thing.  I was a bit disappointed that it did not have the in-line style of their regular hooks.

Knitter's Pride Flexible Tunisian Afghan Crochet hookKnitter's Pride cable for flexible Tunisian afghan hookThis Knitter's Pride hook is on order and may be a bit better.  A single hook can be ordered, along with the cable. According to reviews the cable isn't as stiff.   We'll see!

Caron Tulip Carry T Flexible Tunisian Afghan Hook SetComments from a few on A Ravelry Tunisian Crochet group (link below) say the Caron Tulip Carry T hooks that have a swivel on the cable end are ideal (on the right in the pink case).  But the whole set has to be ordered, which is too much of an investment right now.  (I'm still drooling, though)!

Taming Tunisian

Ravelry - Tunisian Crochet group is a good source to ask questions.  There, and a number of other sources, confirmed the obvious, and offered info on the not-so-obvious (as far as learning to work the tunisian stitch and hook).

Obvious:  Patience and practice will get the hands in shape.  (But mommy, I want it to be easy)!
Not-so-obvious:  A lot of it is actually mental.  Being new and awkward makes muscles tense and tighten up without even realizing it.  Stopping and saying "relax your hands" - and then doing it - actually helps a lot.  Another "newbie" verified he was doing the same thing.  And BREATHE!  That last one may sound silly, but it's amazing how much I was holding my breath!
Not-so-obvious:  I hold the hook like a "knife". Fortunately (I found out), holding the hook like a knife instead of a pencil is a good thing because only minor adjustments with moving the hook, and throwing the yarn on the hook are needed.  I read comments from people that hold regular hooks like a pencil have had to learn to hold tunisian hooks with the knife grip.

Have you done Tunisian Crochet?  
I'd love to hear your experience, tips and see some pics!

Until next time!

It's never too late to join the 52 Week Crochet Challenge by Julie at Red Berry Crochet!
One simple task per week - your skills, style & knowledge will evolve by just having fun! 

#crochet #tunisian

Your thoughts are always appreciated!