In addition to being National Craft Month, March is also National Crochet Month! Because it's National Crochet Month, and because she has a new stitch guide out, I talked to Kim Guzman about her newest book, Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide.
Kim has published several patterns with Leisure Arts and her very first pattern with them (or anywhere else) was the Traditional Elegance Crochet tree skirt, which is a bit different from what she designs now.
It's unique and beautiful, but just very different from something like this:
|The Sapphire Wrap from Short Row Tunisian Fashion.
More recently, Kim has been designing Tunisian crochet patterns. Her book, The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Tunisian Crochet came out last year, and Short Row Tunisian Fashion was published this year.
The Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide, however, is a rare thing. Although Leisure Arts has published several stitch guides, the Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide is only one of a handful books about Tunisian crochet stitches that I could find--which is exciting! Even more exciting is that Kim wrote on her blog, "Tunisian crochet stitch patterns really do fly off my hook, new and different stitch patterns, never before seen." So if you're already familiar with the technique of Tunisian crochet, then you really want this book--both for its thorough cataloging of stitches, and for the new mystery techniques you could learn from it. Even if you're like me, though, and all you can guess about Tunisian crochet is that it's "different," then you may still want this book. A good stitch guide is a good stitch guide, and those are always something to want in your library.
I had the chance to email Kim last week, and I asked her about the book as well as some general questions about Tunisian crochet in general because I was curious and figured other people probably would be, too. She graciously wrote me back and really cleared up some things for me!
Here's our conversation:
Could you explain, in very basic terms, how Tunisian crochet is different from "regular" crochet?
Most Tunisian crochet stitches are exactly the same as "regular" single crochet. Tunisian crochet stitches are simply worked in assembly-line fashion. What is a single crochet?
1. Insert hook, yarn over, pull loop through
2. Yarn over, pull through two loops on hook
In Tunisian crochet, you do exactly the same thing except you do step 1 all the way across the row, chain 1 and do step 2 all the way across.
What made you interested in Tunisian crochet?
About 14 years ago, there was a big interest in double-ended Tunisian crochet. I was given a new product and asked to design with it. The product was a double-ended hook with a cable. I fell in love with the hook, but it turns out that I preferred using it for regular Tunisian more than double-ended. I preferred the look of regular Tunisian with its wonderful texture and beautiful fabric. What I discovered is that there weren't many patterns available in Tunisian crochet at that time, and the technique hadn't been explored to its full potential. It was an area where I could really create things that had never been seen or done before. I felt like the world had opened up to me.
Since you design both standard crochet and Tunisian crochet patterns, are you doing more Tunisian crochet patterns right now to meet an increased demand? Or are you finding this field more interesting right now and you want to let everyone know about it?
Really, I'm going to have to say both reasons. Tunisian crochet is very popular right now. There was a time when many magazine publishers would reject every Tunisian crochet submission solely because it was Tunisian crochet. Now, it's much easier to submit designs in Tunisian crochet. I have loved this technique for over a decade. And, by all means, I want to share that love with people! It is a remarkable technique which has the ability to look like crochet, knit, weaving, macrame, netting, and so much more. I hear so often that a knitter would like to make something that looks like crochet, while a crocheter wants to make something that looks like knit. Enter Tunisian crochet, which can resemble both of those techniques and more. It is the perfect technique!
What kind of crocheter would be interested in the Tunisian Stitch Guide--designers? People who just want to learn extra types of stitches? People who like to get creative with patterns?
I created these stitch patterns to give people something different. Something never before seen. The very first crochet publication I purchased in my life was a little stitch pattern dictionary. I taught myself to read crochet patterns and develop my stitching skills from that book. I highly recommend a stitch pattern dictionary like this to any crocheter, at any level. Since most of the stitch patterns have never been seen before, it's a very exciting thing to discover something new and different. I consider crocheters to be a very creative bunch. I rarely hear that someone followed a pattern completely, without making changes. For this reason, I consider most crocheters to actually be designers even if they don't write patterns.
The book is a welcome addition to anyone's personal library to open up the crocheter's designing spirit, whether they are making a one-of-a-kind, heirloom shawl, or whether they are professionally designing and writing patterns.
What would you say to someone who was interested in Tunisian crochet, but was a little hesitant about jumping in?
Do you know how to do a single crochet? If the answer is yes, then you already know how to do Tunisian crochet. You just don't know it yet!
If that didn't work, I would ask whether they have ever done a foundation single crochet, currently so popular with crocheters who don't like to make long chains at the start of a project. And, if the answer is yes, then that crocheter has already done Tunisian crochet and just doesn't know it because it was disguised as "foundation single crochet" which in actuality is narrow rows of Tunisian crochet on only two stitches. (I wish I could say that I figured that out myself. But, I didn't. I learned it from a friend on Ravelry, Sheila in Australia.)
Is there anything else you want to say about Tunisian crochet?
The biggest thing is don't believe the myths! In the 1970s, this technique wasn't fully explored. Most Tunisian crochet projects were designed to be suitable for embroidery and cross stitch. People used small hooks and created dense fabric that used a lot of yarn for a perfect background for adding embellishment. This inspired the myths that ALL Tunisian crochet produces dense, bullet-proof fabric and uses a crazy amount of yarn. If you tried Tunisian crochet in the past, you may want to have a look at it in this century because, my, how it has changed!
I had a really great time talking to Kim about this stitch guide, and I'm excited to learn more about this exciting and interesting type of crochet. I'd like to thank her again for taking the time to answer all of my questions about this really cool subject. Her blog is WIPs and Chains and I'd encourage you to bookmark that link because you're going to want to see what she's up to and (just Googling the name of the blog gets you some weird results. You have been warned).
And I'd like to encourage you to check out Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide from your local library to see if it's something you'd like to buy. Or, you know, you could just click that link and buy it right now. Do it for National Crochet Month.