Ready to save some time and frustration? See how this basic knitting technique turns into a smart and time-saving hack for making a stretchy Tunisian Crochet foundation row.
What’s the most frustrating part of a Tunisian Crochet project? For me, it’s the foundation row. You start out with a number of chain stitches, and then there’s the tedious job of working into each back bump and pulling up a loop. If you’re using thinner yarn, that back bump is difficult to see and even more difficult to get your hook through.
What if you make your chains too tight, as many of us often do? Your Tunisian Crochet rows end up being loose than your starting chain, so the whole thing looks like a rainbow, and your rectangle has a warped bottom. Worst of all, maybe you counted your starting chains incorrectly. Either way, you have to unravel it all and start the whole thing over again.
Now, let’s see how we turn that procrastination-worthy ordeal into a speedy start so you can get right into the fun part of your pattern!
The quick and easy solution is to use a knit cast-on method to cast-on your foundation row. There are different types of cast-on methods, but we’re going to mainly focus on the German Twisted cast-on, and as an extension, the much-used long-tail cast-on method. Both methods enable you to work a foundation row quickly and evenly, and sets you up for a regular Tunisian Crochet return row. While this is a brilliant time saving technique, it does not fix the curl at the beginning of your project, since the curl is a effect of the Tunisian Crochet stitches themselves.
The German Twisted cast-on method is a stretchy version of the long tail cast-on, with a few extra loops built in to give your foundation row (or knit cast on) some extra flexibility. For projects where I need the extra stretch – like hats and cuffs – I prefer using the German Twisted cast-on. I choose the regular long tail cast-on for pieces where I don’t need the extra stretch – like shawl or blanket edges.
Both methods start the same, with a predetermined length of yarn set aside to work the cast-on. For long foundation rows, this can be a bit confusing, since you need to know how much yarn to start with. Here’s a quick hack that I use in both my knits and my Tunisian Crochet projects.
How to Estimate Yarn Length for a Long-Tail Cast-On
Start with a beginning tail, and wrap it around your Tunisian Crochet hook (or knitting needle) once for every stitch. This is a good estimate of the required yardage. Wrap the yarn around the hook/needle 10 times, and then use that length of yarn and multiply it out to guesstimate total yardage for stitch counts over 10. For example, if I needed to cast-on 80 stitches, I would wrap my yarn around my hook/needle 10 times, then take that length and measure it out 8 times. If my stitch count is not a multiple of 10, let’s say it’s 75, then I would simply round it to the nearest 10, or guesstimate the yardage for that last little bit. This isn’t an exact science; it is merely a way to get you started without starting from scratch.
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Once you have your starting yardage, you can start your long-tail or German Twisted cast-on. See the video below for a full tutorial on the German Twisted cast-on, or find it on YouTube.
I used WeCrochet Muse Hand Painted Aran for both tutorials. Muse is a gorgeous superwash, worsted weight/aran weight Merino wool from Japan, and is available in a variety of speckled and tonal colors. The yarn looks and feels like a single ply, but is actually tightly twisted, which keeps the yarn stable without splitting or pilling. The German Twisted cast-on video tutorial features Muse Hand Painted in Thrill.
I hope this quick hack makes your Tunisian Crochet life a little easier! Please tag me on Instagram @1dogwoof if you use it in your next project!