How Can I Stop Tunisian Afghan Stitch from Curling?

Dear Anne,

I have a crochet hook with a long cable which I’m using for Tunisian afghan stitch. My work keeps rolling up on me, how do I get it to stop?

-Dennis

For those not familiar with it, Tunisian crochet is a style of crochet which uses a long crochet hook to form stitches similar to knitting. It is often described as a hybrid of knit and crochet.

Some curly Tunisian Afghan Stitch

Some curly Tunisian Afghan Stitch

To understand why the Tunisian afghan stitch curls we need to look at how it’s formed. The geometry of the stitch gives it a propensity to curl. Unlike other crochet stitches, which are formed at the top of the work, these afghan stitches are formed by working into the side.

Normally we work at the top of the fabric, but for this stitch we're working into the vertical "bars" on the front, highlighted in green.

Normally we work at the top of the fabric, but for this stitch we’re working into the vertical “bars” on the front, highlighted in green.

Because each row of stitches is worked slightly forward of the previous row, the whole fabric begins to slowly curl in on itself. If your project is only mildly curling, you can try working with a larger hook. The looser fabric has less structure and won’t curl as much.

Blocking, the process of relaxing and reshaping the fibers, will also help to some extent. How well it works will depend largely on the fibers used. Wool blocks very well, whereas acrylic doesn’t usually respond to blocking at all.

Not all fibers respond well to blocking; acrylic is particularly resistant.

Not all fibers respond well to blocking; acrylic is particularly resistant.

If you want to truly prevent curling you’ll need to add a border stitch or edging to stabilize the fabric.    Begin with a few rows of Tunisian Reverse Stitch, and add a few Tunisian reverse stitches to the ends of each row of afghan stitches. This will offset the curl and give you a much flatter result.

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