The New Tunisian Crochet by Dora Ohrenstein. Interweave Press: 2013. 144 pages. Paperback, PDF, and Kindle versions available. Grade: A
This thorough introduction to Tunisian crochet begins with a history which is as informative as much as it is entertaining to read. Did you know that this type of crochet does not come from Tunisia, or, in fact, anywhere? Once considered to be a form of knitting for idiots, also known today as “Afghan crochet,” this craft’s origins are very uncertain.
Following the brief history – and I must say it’s brief because there isn’t much to say – Chapters 1 through 4 discuss techniques and considerations to be made about tools and materials. Chapter 5 is a very convenient stitch dictionary with complete instructions about how to execute many stitches.
The final and sixth chapter trots out the patterns, which are quite interesting and look like a lot of fun to crochet. I want to make the “Mago Vest,” “Lorelei Pullover,” “Terra Hat and Mitts,” “Ariadne Sampler Throw,” “Natalia Scarf,” and several more. My only very subjective complaint about the patterns is that I would prefer to see a couple more sweaters, maybe one more for women and one designed with men in mind. I know, I’m biased, but I am a strange being who is male, enjoys crocheting his own attire, and I crave wearable sweater patterns. The only design for men – which really could be unisex since the model for it is a man – is the “Mago Vest,” which, although attractive, is a vest, not a sweater. I don’t know about the men in your life, but I’m not much of a vest enthusiast. I suppose a saving grace about this pattern is that you could make up your own sleeves for it and sew them on. Regardless, this pattern looks interesting to crochet, so I’m sure I’ll find a use for it in the future. Then, of course, my mind starts wandering. I keep thinking, actually, about how I could hack the “Lorelei Pullover” to make it something for me to wear at the beach or something, crocheted with some light cotton or linen. I think it would look great on a guy with a t-shirt underneath, or on Johnny Depp with nothing underneath. First, I think I need to find a way to visit the beach some time soon so I have a reason to hack it!
Aside from my whining, I see more positives than negatives about this book. The patterns are modern yet timeless, the visuals are perfectly rendered, and everything from page 1 to the end is explained clearly and concisely. But, if you were sitting in a café or bar with me having a beer or a coffee and interviewed me about my opinion of this book, I would rave and rave about how it suggests a lot of “normal” yarns for the patterns. It seems that we live in an age of only publishing patterns written for exotic and/or expensive yarns. I love expensive yarn. I adore it. However, depending on one’s geographical location and budget, it’s not always possible to buy this material. Here in The New Tunisian Crochet we find recommendations such as Lion Brand. UK readers, think Hayfield or Style Craft, etc. Now that’s pretty refreshing. Furthermore, I think it is absolutely essential to show people how to make fashionable, beautiful things with less expensive yarns. This book does that very well.
Another handy aspect of this book is that it has a thoughtful glossary. A lot of knitting and crochet books have glossaries, but not all of them have good glossaries. This one is intelligent and useful.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning to make things with Tunisian crochet. From accessories to home decor, this one has the range most crocheters are looking for. If you only crochet things for men, it’s probably not a good investment, however, not many men want crocheted things, anyway. I’m probably the only one.