Thursday, 25 June 2015

Slip Stitch (Bosnian Crochet) Scarves

Two slip stitch scarves lying side-by-side; made from colour-changing yarn; left: blues, greens & dark greys; right: fiery oranges, reds and charcoal.
My two finished scarves!
Pattern: Slip Slope Scarf
by Vashti Braha

At last! Two complete scarves, both done with the 'slip stitch crochet' technique, also known as 'Bosnian crochet'. 

I promised to blog about this last May so now it is time to gather photos, pattern details and resources for further learning about slip stitch crochet.

This technique has had many different names and descriptions. During my research, a very apt Scandinavian proverb kept appearing: 

"A dear child has many names"

I quite like this as a theme for this post about slip stitch crochet not only because of so many names for one technique but also because my slip stitch scarves were made for my children.  

My children truly are dear to me but, depending on their behaviour, I could certainly come up with many other names to describe them too!  (Of course, those other names are always unspoken and quickly forgotten. I am sure other parents can empathise.)

An unfinished scarf in warm reds, oranges, and charcoal looks like it is trying to shuffle out of a plastic snap-lock bag.  The working row is covered wihth red stitch markers.
First slip stitch scarf in progress

The first slip stitch scarf was introduced back in May 2014 when it was living in my special crochet basket

Begun on 22 March and completed on 27 May 2014, I followed Vashti Braha's "Slip Slope Scarf" pattern which uses short rows and slip stitches worked into the back loops only to create alternating triangular patterns and diagonal lines.  

A colour changing yarn highlights the changes in row directions and defines the wedge-shaped sections.

Moda Vera's 'Bouvardia' aran weight yarn (70% acrylic 30% wool) had just the right intervals of colour change to make the most of this pattern. My 6.5 mm anodised hook was well-weighted and worked very smoothly with this yarn.

Close-up of slip stitch scarf in "Vesuvius" colours (oranges, reds and charcoal greys).
This colour (80251348) is called 'Vesuvius' (dye lot: 629).
The diagonal lines are created by working into the back loops.

These scarves are such easy take-along projects:
  • easy to remember–no need to carry the pattern
  • easy to find one's place after interruptions
  • easy to pick up and put down at a moment's notice.

The Vesuvius scarf was so admired that my younger child wanted one as well. By this time, I felt very confident in the pattern and took it everywhere, crocheting on 'auto-pilot' as it grew very quickly.

I learned to be wary of crocheting through fatigue when I laid out the second scarf to measure it and take a progress photo.  For some reason it would not straighten up!  Was my tension uneven? Did I miss a row? Can you see what I did?

"Slip Slope Scarf" with a kink in it from a crochet error.
Crochet 'auto-pilot' + fatigue = mistake
One of the 'wedges' is pointing the wrong way
causing the scarf to kink.

What happened? The pattern of alternating wedges was upset when I accidentally began decreasing at the wrong end of a row. The only fix was to rip back (about 7 or 8 wedges) and re-do it.  The lesson is to regularly take a step back to look at the project as a whole.

Taking a step back to admire the colours is easy!

Slip Slope Scarf in "Shadow Spectrum" colours: purples, blues, greens and browns.
This colour (80251342) is called 'Shadow Spectrum' (dye lot: 619).

A beanie made in February 2014, made of Bouvardia yarn in "Shadow Spectrum" colours. The pom pom and ribbing are light green and the body is in dark purple and turquoise colours.
Beanie crocheted in
Bouvardia 'Shadow Spectrum'
(not slip stitch technique)

The 'Shadow Spectrum' colours looked fantastic on a beanie that I crocheted in 2014. The light greens and browns of the ribbing and pom pom contrasted well with the dark purples and blues.

To achieve the effect, I extracted particular colours by cutting them out from wherever they were in the skein (like 'fussy cutting' fabric perhaps?).

When it came to making the scarf, I was left with a collection of yarn sections, not necessarily in their natural colour sequence.  I was very careful to order them into logical, smoothly graduated colour changes.  

New yarn was added at the beginning of rows because I didn't trust that I could do it neatly in the middle of a row. Slip stitch crochet is a relatively new technique for me but it wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be to hide the ends.

Shadow Spectrum scarf pinned onto the blocking board. The grid is in inches.
'Shadow Spectrum' slip stitch scarf
pinned to the blocking board.
Blocking was essential to even out the stitches and bring forth the beautiful curved contours of the slip stitch rows.  I used pins on my cardboard blocking board.  I suppose blocking wires could have been convenient to ensure the edges were dead straight but I don't own any and it didn't matter. Once the scarf is around the neck, any imperfections like that aren't noticeable. 

Shadow Spectrum slip stitch scarf on a coathanger hanging on a pine dresser.
Slip stitch scarf
'Shadow Spectrum'
I am so pleased with the results. The colours suit my daughter's complexion and school uniform. She received many compliments on the first day that she wore it to school. "It looks good", "It's cool" and "Awesome scarf!" were some of the responses.  I agree with them!

Tips and Tricks

Slip stitch crochet is straightforward but the stitches are short and it takes longer to make up fabric compared with other stitches.

The trick is to have a looser tension than normal otherwise it is impossible to work the hook into the stitches.

It is wise to follow Vashti Braha's suggestion of marking the first stitch of each row.

At the end of this post is a long list of resources about slip stitch crochet. 

Somewhere I read that "'Bosnian crochet' is a sub-type of a broader category of  'slip stitch crochet'."  I am not sure of the differences. Perhaps the 'Bosnian' distinction is the art of making patterns by working in back or front loops instead of through both loops of a plain slip stitch, or is it the working in the round without turning?

The more I read about the origins and names of this technique, the more muddied the waters get! 'Bosnian' crochet is just one of the many names. 

"A dear child has many names"

Two slip stitch scarves lying side-by-side; made from colour-changing yarn; left: blues, greens & dark greys; right: fiery oranges, reds and charcoal.
Same pattern,
different colours.

Various sources claim this proverb to be Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. Let's just call it Scandinavian!  (The languages of these countries all derive from North Germanic language.) 
  • Finnish: Rakkaalla lapsella on monta nimeä.
  • Swedish: Kärt barn har många namn.
  • Danish: Kært barn har mange navne.

There are two premises to this proverb:
  • Popular things will have many synonyms to describe them
  • A concept  that is universal or fundamental (like a slip stitch) will have a word for it in every language

Slip stitch crochet is no exception and the different names for it are great to know when using search engines:
'Vesuvius' slip stitch scarf on a coathanger hanging on a pine dresser.
Slip stitch scarf

  • slip stitch crochet 
  • Bosnian crochet
  • shepherd's knitting 
  • Dutch knitting
  • Schaapherderssteek “Shepherd’s stitch”  

This is also where things get confusing.

'Shepherd's knitting' has also been used in England and Scotland to describe (Australian) tricot stitch also known as Tunisian crochet or afghan stitch. The French description of afghan stitch is "Tricot Ecossaise" which means "Scottish knitting"!

The Dutch name for slip stitch crochet translates literally to 'shepherd's stitch'.  This is why I wonder whether the names of these techniques got muddled in translation. Is/was there confusion between slip stitch crochet and tricot stitch?  Sometimes both slip stitch and tricot/Tunisian crochet can resemble a thicker version of knitted stockinette stitch.

There is plenty of room for confusion and 'tricot' happens to be the French term for knitting! Phew!

There is a possibility that past researchers may have misidentified traditional slip stitched textiles as being made with tapestry crochet techniques.  This is reflected in the range of words used to describe slip stitch in different countries.

Historical references to slip stitch crochet have been found in countries in the peripheral regions of Europe such as Bosnia and the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Scandinavia and Scotland.

The Scottish connection makes sense to me. From my own limited knowledge of Dutch, Frisian and Scottish, I can see similarities in a number of their words. I am certain that these crochet crafts crossed the North Sea in the same way that many words did. 

Long view of 'Shadow Spectrum' slip stitch scarf on the blocking board.
The diagonal edge
is due to an odd
number of 'wedges'.
  • Pjoning  
  • Smygmaskvirkning “slip stitch crochet” (The most common term right now according to Barbro Haikinmatti)
  • gammelvirkning  “old crochet” 
  • krokvirkning "hook crochet"
  • Bosnisk virkning "Bosnian crochet"
  • påtning, "a technique used for making cords and for nålbinding also known as nalbinding"
  • gobelängvirkning "gobelin / tapestry crochet" 
  • Gobelinstitch
Other (perhaps German?)
  • Gabelinstitch
Traditional slip stitch crochet hooks were often fashioned from old spoon handles.  The different languages fascinate me. Perhaps it all comes down to cutlery! I know that "die Gabel" is German for "the fork". Hairpin lace is worked between the prongs of forked tool.  Could that be how the term 'gabelinstitch' came about?  Maybe fork handles were used as well?   I am only wondering here and have no evidence!

I have so many questions and the more articles I read, the more questions I have! 

If you have any information or enlightenment to give, please leave a comment or email me at

Thank you to NV for telling me that the Bosnian words for crochet and knitting are 'isheklati' and 'pletivo' respectively.


Super Slip Stitch Resources

The following online resources give a large amount of information and links to even more references for further research. Publication details are in my reference list at the end of this post.
'Slip Slope' scarf in 'Vesuvius' colours on the blocking board.
An even number
of 'wedges' makes
a straight edge.



Barbro Haikinmatti published a great blog article in Swedish about slip stitch crochet. She calls it Bosnian crochet and shows photographs of traditional Bosnian crochet hooks and work from the Finlands Nationalmuseum.

At a conference in Finland, Barbro Haikinmatti took classes from an expert in tapestry crochet, Carol Ventura,  and re-wrote her article in English. This comprehensive article is fascinating. It goes a long way to explaining the very different names for slip stitch crochet and how they can get confused in translation.  If you are interested in the history and development of slip stitch crochet, I highly recommend these two in-depth articles.

Carol Ventura, as part of her study of tapestry crochet, and slip stitch crochet in particular, travelled to Morocco where 'kufees' or 'kufis' (Muslim caps) are made using the method. More information can be found on her Tapestry Crochet blog.

Dora Ohrenstein has done much research into crochet origins including travel to Asia and Eastern Europe in search of 'missing links' in crochet history including the origins and development of slip stitch crochet. She has written slip stitch crochet patterns and her Crochet Insider web site is a wonderful resource.

Sylvia Cosh and James Walters write that slip stitch crochet is traditional to Bosnia and other Muslim countries and may represent the earliest form of crochet anywhere. 

For a more general introduction, try "Discover Bosnian Crochet", an article by Toni Rexroat of Interweave's Crochet Me web site. 

Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence is excellent at collating all of the above information and more in "A Basic Guide to Bosnian Crochet". She has links to slip stitch crochet patterns.

Project Details: Vital Statistics

Pattern:  Slip Slope Scarf
Designer: Vashti Braha
Source: DesigningVashti Crochet Patterns
Online shop, DesigningVashti 21st Century Crochet:
Vesuvius slip stitch scarf graduating colours of charcoal, deep pink reds, oranges, browns.

Vesuvius Scarf

Date: 22 March - 27 May 2014
Yarn: Moda Vera 'Bouvardia', 70% acrylic 30% wool
Weight: aran, 10 ply, worsted
Colour: 80251348 "Vesuvius"
Dye lot: 629
Hook: 6.5 mm anodised hook, 15cm long
No. of wedges made: 40
For a straight scarf, crochet an even number of wedges.
Scarf Dimensions: 15 x 152 cm (6" x 60")
Yarn consumption: approximately 162 g (292 m)

Shadow Spectrum Scarf
Shadow Spectrum slip stitch scarf graduates through purple, turquoise, browns and greens.Date: 3 April - 3 June 2015
Yarn: Moda Vera 'Bouvardia', 70% acrylic 30% wool
Weight: aran, 10 ply, worsted
Colour: 80251342 "Shadow Spectrum"
Dye lot: 619
Hook: 6.5 mm anodised hook, 15cm long
No. of wedges made: 41.  
If joining for an infinity scarf or cowl, crochet an odd number of wedges.
I was going to do that with this scarf but my daughter settled on a straight scarf.
Scarf Dimensions: 15 cm x 145 cm (6" x 57")  
The scarf has a ribbed pattern and easily stretches. It gets skinnier the longer it is stretched. It stretches to 12.5 cm x 185 cm (5" x 73")
Yarn consumption: approximately 172 g (310 m) 

A beanie made in February 2014, made of Bouvardia yarn in "Shadow Spectrum" colours. The pom pom and ribbing are light green and the body is in dark purple and turquoise colours.
Shadow Spectrum Beanie

Pattern: Cozy Pom Pom Hat
Source: Lion Brand Yarn

Date: 17–20 February 2014
Yarn: Moda Vera 'Bouvardia', 70% acrylic 30% wool
Weight: aran, 10 ply, worsted
Colour: 80251342 "Shadow Spectrum"
Dye lot: 619
Hook: 6 mm, can't remember type of hook Size: to fit adult
Yarn consumption: 68 g (123 m) 

References Dictionary [web site], (Swedish proverbs):

Braha, Vashti, crochet designer, DesigningVashti Crochet Patterns:
Online shop, DesigningVashti 21st Century Crochet:

Cosh, Sylvia & Walters, James, "'Bosnian' Crochet Fabric", Crochet [web site]:
This page shows examples of the various fabric effects one can create using slip stitch crochet. 

Heikinmatti, Barbro, “Smygmaskvirkning” Hillevis Trådar [Swedish blog], 26 March 2010:
This article is in Swedish. An English version is written by Carol Ventura:
Heikinmatti, Barbro & Ventura, Carol, “Bosnian Crochet” Hillevis Trådar ("Hillevis Threads") [blog], 3 April 2010:

Ohrenstein, Dora, "The Sock Artisans of De Pamiri", Interweave Crochet, Vol. 5 No. 4 Winter 2011 [magazine], Interweave Press, Loveland, Colorado, USA, 2011:

Rexroat, Toni, "Discover Bosnian Crochet", ‘Crochet Daily’ [blog], Crochet Me [web site], 5 March 2012:

This article includes a photograph of traditional Bosnian hooks and references to more information in Piecework magazine (Interweave).

Ventura, Carol,  Tapestry Crochet, blog posts:
—"Tapestry Crochet in Morocco",  21 September 2007:
"More Morocco", 16 June 2012: 
"The Lesson", 20 July 2012:

Vercillo, Kathryn, “A Basic Guide to Bosnian Crochet” [online article], Crochet Concupiscence [web site] 28 March 2012:
Includes a source for the wide, flat Bosnian hooks plus more photographs, further references and links to slip stitch patterns.

Wikiquote [web site], "Talk: Finnish Proverbs":

Word Hippo [web site] (Danish proverbs):

Other Resources (Including Tutorials)

Khawja, Ishrat, "Kufee Hat Pattern", Fruitful Fusion, blog post, 23 December 2009: 
This is not slip stitch crochet but it gives another example of a 'kufee' style of hat.

Heikinmatti, Barbro, blogger, crocheter:
Old blog: Hillevis Trådar  –
New blog: Barbro's Threads –
Ravelry: Hillevi3

Jönsson, Kerstin, Smygmask Virkning: Teknik och mönster, Ariadne Publishing
This book appeared on Barbro Heikinmatti's Swedish blog post. She says that there are several shops in Sweden that sell it:
Monk Wolle & Beanies, "Bosnian Crochet Beanie - Bosnisch häkeln - Kettmaschen häkeln" [video], duration 27'35", YouTube, 26 February 2013:
This video is in German. Non-German speakers found this video to be very clear. When measuring the base chain, make sure to add 2 or 3 extra stitches.
Useful words: abnehmen (to decrease), Bund (band), Masche (stitch), Mütze (beanie), häkeln (to crochet), hinter (behind), locker (loose), Kette (chain), Muster (pattern), Nadel (needle/crochet hook), Rund (round), Schlinge (loop), vorder (front)

Monk Wolle & Beanies, "Long Beanie Bosnisch häkeln - Mütze häkeln - Kettmaschen häkeln" [video tutorial], duration 14'53",  YouTube:
This video is in German with basic instructions in English subtitles.  This beanie uses slip stitch short row technique.
Nehring, Nancy, books available through Amazon:
Learn Short Row Slip Stitch, Annie's Crochet, 15 October 2013.
Slip Stitch Caps, Annie's Attic: Crochet, 1 September 2009.
Learn Slip Stitch Crochet, Annie's Attic: Crochet, 1 June 2008. 

Ohrenstein, Dora, Crochet Insider [web site]:
"Crochet Insider has a rich store of materials for those who want to learn more about crochet, its history, traditions and techniques." 

Pjonica, "Pjoning–grunnkurs" [video tutorial], duration 14'02", YouTube, 8 September 2010: 
Learn how to slip stitch a mitten with this Norwegian video.

Ravelry Slip stitch Crochet group:

Rexroat, Toni, (editor), Advanced Crochet Stitches: a Free Guide to Crocheting Stitches Including Crocodile Stitch, Hairpin Lace and More, eBook, Crochet Me [web site], F+W Media Inc., 2014:
"Experiment with Bosnian crochet with the Gobelinstitch cuffs." This eBook has an article on 'Bosnian Lace' and an accompanying project to practice slip stitch skills. [web site]: 
Started in May 2010 the "Slip Stitch Crochet community is an outgrowth of the Ravelry Slip Stitch Crochet Group."

Ventura, Carol, Tapestry Crochet web site, 29 January 2015:

A Yarnified Life [web site], "What is Slip Stitch Crochet?" Slip Stitch Crochet Tutorial:

Related Posts on Lupey Loops

“Scarves, Exhausted with Colour “ 18 June 2015: 
"Seeking comfort in the colours of crochet …" 

"Lots Going On (Update)", 14 May 2015:
"When this year's scarf is done, I promise I will write all about it and slip-stitch crochet.

“Knitting & Crochet Blog Week 2014: 4 - Conversations Between Workers #5KCBWDAY4”, 16 May 2014:

Two slip stitch scarves lying side-by-side; made from colour-changing yarn; left: blues, greens & dark greys; right: fiery oranges, reds and charcoal.


  1. I love these scarves! I'd love to have a go at slip stitch crochet myself.

    1. When I first tried it years ago, my tension was too tight and it was hard work so I abandoned it. I've since learned to crochet with a looser tension and it is much easier. Finding the right type of hook helps too. You need a hook with a sharper narrower head to get in and under the slip stitches easily. Blunt rounded hooks were difficult with the Bouvardia yarn that I used for my 'Slip Slope' scarves. Do have a look at the videos and links. Vashti Braha provides so much information about all sorts of crochet techniques.

  2. Very interesting! Thank you for collecting all this information into one place :) I'm very keen to have another go at Vashti's scarf - as she says herself, it just didn't work in cotton.

    1. Thanks, Michelle. I love that crochet has so many specialties but finding in-depth information can be quite hard at times so once I find them, I need a place to keep them: blog! I'm glad to be of service to other blog-reading crocheters.

      There are plenty of 'basic-intermediate' resources but when it comes to information about the history and cultural context of the different techniques, that's another matter. Thus, if I can get some information together, putting it altogether here makes it easier to find for future reference. Make sure to follow up the "Super Resources" listed above. Vashti Braha, Dora Ohrenstein and Kathryn Vercillo offer more links and articles to explore. I am just thinking about Carol Ventura and her research - I might add links to her tapestry crochet page as a reference for those wanting to compare tapestry crochet with Bosnian crochet.

      Good luck with all of your projects. You have been so busy with the hook, as always1 :-)
      Hugs, Jodie

      Did you try making the Slip Slope scarf with your cotton blend then? Judging by your comment, it sounds like you had a go without satisfaction? Let me know how you go. You are welcome to share links to your slip stitch efforts here too. :-)

    2. P.S. Sorry my reply is out of order - must have got befuddled in the fatigue fog!

    3. That's ok! I did try it with the cotton/bamboo blend, and it was just heavy and weird and not at all nice to wear or look at. So, I undid it all and made a lazy wave scarf which looks much better :) Once I've whittled the order pile down a bit I'm going to have another go with some Bouvardia which has more stretch, as well as lovely long self-striping colours!

  3. Thanks ever so much for the pattern link and all the info. I hope to give it a go sometime, maybe scarves for the children's stockings :-) Hope you have a great weekend. x

    1. It's an easy pattern. The only challenge is getting the hang of slip stitch crochet in the first place but that would apply to any slip stitch crochet pattern. Vashti's 'Slip Slope Scarf' is so simple but with the right yarn combination(s) looks spectacular. Have a look at the photos on her Ravelry pattern page:
      Wishing you a great weekend also! xx