Tunisian crochet has many adopted names, including Afghan stitch, Fool’s stitch and Shepherd’s crochet, the latter based on the belief that shepherds used it to create warm fabrics with the spun yarn from their sheep. This type of crochet has been described as a mixture of crochet and knitting, and requires a special long hook, sometimes with a stopper on the handle end. The longer length of the hook allows for the creation of larger pieces of work.
The technique involves working each row in two distinct passes, the forward pass where loops are worked onto the hook and the reverse pass where loops are worked back off the hook, as if they are being cast off. The work is never turned, so the side facing you is always the right side. It can also be worked in the round using a double-ended crochet hook and two balls of yarn. Tunisian crochet creates a much thicker, denser, less elastic fabric than standard crochet, so it has many of the qualities of woven fabric and is ideal for blankets and winter garments, rather than finer items. However, many designers are now combining it with lightweight yarns and threads and hooks up to 3-5 sizes larger than the yarn recommendations to create fluidity and drape.
Advantages for beginners are that it is very easy to learn, faster to work than ordinary crochet, and twice as fast as knitting. This technique encompasses a range of 60 or so individual stitches that can be endlessly combined to create an incredible variety of textures.