Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets
by Sharon Silverman

A few weeks ago on Ravelry, in a discussion about pattern testers and tech editors, I posted a comment. The people who were discussing this seemed to be using the two terms interchangeably, and I wrote that they were two very different things. One of the people who had posted some comments, messaged me later, thanked me for posting, and asked me if I would like to join her blog tour for her new book – Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets . Yes, it was Sharon Silverman! When I said that I would love to review her new book (little did she know that I had some of her other books – Tunisian Crochet, Crochet Scarves, Basic Crocheting, and Beyond Basic Crocheting - and thought they were good ones to have in my library), she wrote me back and told me that one of the first classes she took at a Crochet Guild of America Chain Link conference was one of mine, and she really liked it. I was a big inspiration, she said. So now I can brag about that!!! 

She sent me an eBook of her new Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets book, and also said that I could have a raffle so one of my readers could win a copy of the book. So this might be your lucky day. Read on to the end, and you'll find out what you have to do to win a copy – an eBook or a "regular" book, your choice.

Sharon is one of the "stars" of Tunisian Crochet, and her newest book certainly shows that. Eight baby afghans, each one a different Tunisian technique, each one a different Tunisian stitch or combination of stitches. The blankets are Basket Weave Blocks (Tunisian Knit Stitches alternating with Tunisian Purl Stitches), Purple Garden (in Tunisian Full Stitch - one of my now favorite Tunisian stitches), Frosted Stitch Stripes (clusters and Tunisian Simple Stitch), Color Waves (Tunisian Simple Stitch worked in ripples – another one of my now favorite Tunsiain Stitch patterns), Bubbling Bobbles (yes – the bobbles are Tunisian stitches), Telegram (Tunisian Extended stitches - also one of my now favorites), Cables and Honeycombs (yes, they're also Tunisian Stitches), and Bright Strands (using colorwork with Tunisian Simple stitches). So if you want a project that doesn't have shaping, is just square or rectangular, and will teach you the basics and more about Tunisian crochet, this is the book for you!

Now – a little background to this story I'm telling. And why I like to collect books. I teach crochet at my local yarn shop. The class is ongoing, and people can join it at any time. I don't teach a single project or technique. What each student works on is up to each student. I'm there to help them with their current project, or to teach them what they want to know or what they need to know. Sometimes I suggest that they learn something that I think they'll enjoy, or need to add to their crochet skills (think Foundation Stitches). Sometimes one of them will ask me to teach them how to do some technique or pattern, and others often chime in and say they want to learn how to do that, too, and sometimes I say how about learning how to do a special technique or pattern. Or I talk to them about something they should know about – yarns, hooks, gauge swatches, etc. 

So what does this all have to do with Tunisian? Well, just lately, I've been teaching Tunisian stitches to my class, because many of them decided that they wanted to learn the technique. I lend them Tunisian hooks if they don't have one, they start with worsted weight yarn, and I teach them the Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS). Then I go to the Tunisian Knit Stitch (TKS). From there, I teach the Tunisian Double Stitch (TDS). That's usually enough for the first one or two classes. When I was going around the table a few weeks ago, to check on their swatches, one student said her swatch for the TKS didn't look like the other students' swatches. I looked at what she did, and it was the Tunisian Full Stitch (TFS). I knew the "proper" name of the stitch because I had looked at Sharon's book the day before. And I was going to tell the class about this new book that I thought they would like. But first, I told the student who did the TFS that she didn't make a mistake, she was just  doing another stitch. So I explained the TFS to the students, and then class was over. I didn't get to tell them about the book. But, one of the students tried making a TFS swatch at home during the week, and showed it to me at the next class. It was the TFS, but the swatch was not a rectangle, it was slanting to one side. (It was easiest to see the slant from the back of the swatch.) I had to remember how to work the TFS so it wouldn't bias to one side, and could tell her how to fix her swatch. I thought I knew, but I wanted to make sure before I told everyone how to do it wrong. Luckily, I had my iPad with me, so I looked up Sharon's Tunisian Baby Afghan book in my collection of eBooks, and opened it to the Purple Garden pattern, where I found out that I was correct in my thinking. But while I was looking at the picture, I noticed how great the yarn that was used in the blanket looked in the stitch pattern. It seemed to be a variegated yarn, but it didn't pool nor did it create stripes of weird patterns. I knew that about regular Tunisian stitches and variegated yarns, but it seemed to be working with different, more advanced Tunisian stitches, also. I showed  the picture to the class. I wanted to make sure they knew that if you're working with variegated yarns, many Tunisian crochet stitches work well with those yarns.

Here's a picture of Sharon's Purple Garden Afghan:

And just to prove it, I went home and did a practice swatch with various Tunisian stitches that I found in Sharon's book. I used some Red Heart variegated that I had in my stash, and here's a picture of the swatch:

Here's a close-up of the TFS (the 4 rows in the middle).

Notice - no pooling!

Then I did a swatch with regular stitches, so I could see the difference. This is a closeup:

Not too much pooling, but I still didn't like it as much as the Tunisian swatch. Then, this week, I brought the swatches to class, and showed my students. They all liked the Tunisian stitches with the variegated yarn better than the regular crochet stitches with variegated yarn. And then, I showed them the other afghans in the book – they all oohed and aahed over them, but the two afghans that they were really interested in crocheting were the ripple afghan on the cover, and the Tunisian Full Stitch afghan - Purple Garden.
Here's another picture of the Ripple Afghan – Color Waves:

Showing the students what they could do with Tunisian crochet, and having examples of multiple stitches that they could use in various ways is one reason why I like to have books - to help me teach various techniques, and to get my students excited about learning. I also like eBooks, so I can load them on my iPad and bring them with me - without having to actually carry all the books I might need at any time. I know I show a lot of examples from books in my crochet classes. And if the pattern is something they don't want to make, I suggest they try the stitch pattern if I think they will learn something from it. And that's what I like to do with pattern books - I don't necessarily crochet the exact pattern that's in the book. Very often, I use the stitch pattern from one of those patterns in the book, and crochet my own design. I may use a stitch pattern from a sweater, and crochet a scarf. Or a shawl. Or something else.

Those two afghans that my students liked - the Purple Garden and the Color Waves - were also the ones I wanted to try first. At least the stitch patterns. But maybe the afghans, too. And I may have to make a scarf or two using the stitch patterns. Or what about a cowl? Great for this cold weather!!!

Oh, that's another thing. Since these are afghans, either square or rectangular, it doesn’t take much brain power to figure out how to alter the measurements. So you can make bigger afghans, or smaller ones, or a scarf, or shawl, or cowl, or anything rectangular or square, with the patterns. In other words, use the stitch patterns as a stitch dictionary. (In order to change the size, you would have to make a longer or shorter starting chain, using the stitch pattern multiple, which is usually easy to figure out.)

That's one reason I always say you can never have too many books!!!

Now, here's where you get the a chance to win the book.
If you comment here, and tell me which afghan YOU would make, or what you would use the stitch pattern(s) for, you will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of this book, Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets - either the eBook or the regular book. You must comment before Friday, February 14, at midnight, Eastern Time. Also, please let me know how to contact you. I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner. 

And one more thing – if you're interested in buying the book so you can improve your skills at Tunisian Crochet, or learn some new stitch patterns, – you can get it from , or  And you can find out more about Sharon on her web site: