Tunisian Crochet: How to Reduce the Curl
One of the main problems with Tunisian Crochet is the tendency to curl from the top and bottom edges. I have found several tips and techniques
to reduce this curling, and reduce the need for Steam Blocking when the piece is completed.
When I first started working with Tunisian Crochet, I had a couple of tricks that I used to deal with the curling. One of the tricks was to store strips of Tunisian Crochet for larger pieces, rolled up against the curl. I also would run a smaller afghan hook through the bottom of the strip/piece, but that was difficult for me to work around. Neither trick did much to reduce the curl. Which is why I started experimenting with ways to reduce the curl.
I have since found many tips and techniques that really do reduce the curl in Tunisian Crochet.
The single most effect tip for reducing the curling in Tunisian Crochet is to reduce the tension and make your stitches larger. To accomplish this, I use a hook from 1 to 3 sizes larger than I would normally use for the yarn/thread. For example, with worsted weight yarns, I use L, M, N (8, 9, 10, mm) sized hooks. For cotton ‘bedspread’ thread, I have used an F sized hook with wonderful results.
I also use a very loose tension when working the beginning chain to reduce the curl. Using a regular crochet hook one size larger than your Afghan hook is one way of keeping your chains loose, however, that can lead to the bottom edge being larger than the top. This is especially true for the larger hook sizes (L/8 mm and larger). Experiment with your tension and hook size to find the best method for you.
Another excellent means to reduce the curling of the bottom edge involves which thread you use in the beginning chain. I have found that turning the chain upside down, and using the thread on the very back of the chain significantly reduces the curl. This also gives the piece a more appealing edge, since it mimics the top of regular crochet stitches.
Varying the stitches can also reduce the curl. For instance, Purl Foundations have the least curl of all the Foundations, and Purl stitches tend to curl the opposite direction as the other Foundations. By switching back and forth from a Purl Foundation to the other foundations, you force the curl to fight against itself, and thus reduce the curl all together. (The Full Foundation has the highest tendency to curl, so you must use a very loose tension with it; or use it sparingly, such as an accent row.)
Simple physics can reduce the curl, also. By working strips of Tunisian Crochet in different directions, again, you can allow the Curl to work against itself. For instance, working strips of Tunisian Crochet around a block (much like the rounds of a granny square) allows the straight side to combine with a curled edge to reduce the curl. I use this for every afghan I crochet, by putting a decorative edge/strip around the four sides.
When I*m finished with a Tunisian Crochet piece, I have had excellent results with Steam Blocking to eliminate any remaining curl.
I place the piece on my ironing board, and turn my iron to the lowest Steam setting. When the iron has reached the temperature, and steam is easily produced, I hold the iron so that the surface is barely touching the crocheted piece, but the weight of the iron is not. This allows the heat from the iron to penetrate the threads of the crochet, without flattening the texture of the stitches. My iron has a wonderful option of adding bursts of steam, which is what I use to *block* my Tunisian crochet edges and eliminate the curl. This is a very quick process; I can Steam Block placemats in about 2-3 minutes.
For afghans, I lay them on the bed and steam block them from there.
I always allow the item to lie flat until cooled and the moisture the steam produced has dried.