Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Tricot Tableware Complete: Happy Anniversary!

bunch of wedding pink and white wedding flowers, a handful of tulle, a posy in a jam jar with the Pacific Ocean in the distance.
Wedding View
of the Pacific Ocean

Today I wish special loved ones


for it was on this day three years ago that we celebrated their marriage at Dee Why beach.

Part of my gift was a set of 'breakfast placemats'
as a memento of their special day.

This blog entry features the finished items and technical details about my tricot design (Tunisian crochet) such as taming curled edges, a common issue with tricot fabric.

An introduction to this project can be found in the blog entry, "Tricot Tableware - a Special 'Tunisian' Crochet Project" (11 March 2016). Information about my choices of project, fibre and reasons for tricot are explained, along with some photos of my inspiration, Dee Why beach (New South Wales).

A round wooden bowl containing the cottons used for this project. The bowl is on a table decorated with a granny square tablecloth.
A selection of colours.

While there are not many yarn shops in my neighbourhood, I thought I would take my chances at the local branch of a large chain shop, making do with whatever they had to offer, I had faith that I could come up with a solution no matter what I found there.

I chose personal shopping because I did not want to be overwhelmed by the plethora of online choices–it would take me an eternity of indecision to find the right one–and I did not  have time to waste ordering yarn that may arrive too late for my wedding deadline. I also like to inspect the yarn in person to experience the quality first hand.

I was already imagining my placemat design as I entered the shop. Often I will know exactly the type of fibre and yarn weight that I want for a project but this time I had a more open mind; my choices would be decided by availability of colours as the artistic impression was most important.  I was hoping to find a DK weight cotton because it would work up fairly quickly but there was a very limited colour selection in that yarn weight and, quite frankly, they were boring neutrals and pastels. Not suitable for a bright, happy, artistic and adventurous couple.

a strip of tricot fabric in rainbow colours.
A selection of bright rainbow colours showing the difference between purl (blue) and plain (other colours) tricot stitches.

Milford had just released a new colour palette in their  range and they were beautifully rich rainbow colours. That was it!  "Hang on, Jodie!" I thought to myself, "These are only a 3 ply weight. "They will be much thinner than planned. Maybe I will need to make double-sided, double thickness placemats;  but the thin yarn will take twice as long to crochet because I will need twice as many stitches as DK to make the placemats the right size. Hmmm." (Play 'thinking music' here).  The answer: work two threads together to create a thicker thread on the tricot hook!

Two threads together means two skeins at the same time. What about the budget?  I needed to buy at least two skeins of each colour. Never mind, this is a special gift and any leftovers will not go to waste.  The only colours I couldn't find in the Milford were the pastels: a beachy, sandy, beige or brown and a seafoam-y white. In a gift project like this, I prefer to use all the same brand of thread for consistent performance between colours (tension, shrinkage, laundering, fading etc.) but I could not do without the basic neutrals made by Sullivans and branded Natural Soft Crochet & Knitting Cotton.

Design Fun

Kim Guzman's "Summer's Day Placemats" pattern was a great starting point for working out dimensions and number of base chain stitches. The coloured pencils and graph paper came in handy for working out the most pleasing ratios for the strips of colour.

Papers scattered across the workspace include: Kim Guzman's pattern, drawings, photographs, sketches and handwritten notes.
Coloured pencils save frogging.

A diagonal line adds a dynamic element while at the same time represents the hill and cliff at the southern end of Dee Why beach where the wedding took place.  The green 'cliff top' rows finish before the blue to depict the way the horizon could still be seen from the top of the cliff.  The brown strip represents the rocks on the headlands and the walking path where the beach meets the land. I am especially pleased with the way the variegated aqua/white looks like the swirling colours of the breakers. 

A single placemate complete. A white border contains horizontal stripes of (bottom to top) brown, sand, white, variegated aqua/white, blue, yellow, orange, pink and purple with a block of green on the right hand side. A date is embroidered on the green fabric in the bottom right hand corner.
A finished placemat.

It was fun to use different tricot stitches to vary the textures and evoke the feelings of sand, sea and sky.  Most of the design consisted of basic tricot (also known as regular afghan stitch or Tunisian simple stitch) but I utilised the wavy texture of tricot purl stitch (Tunisian purl) for the water features which provides a three-dimensional effect of the foam washing onto the beach.  

A close up of the bottom half of the placemat taken from eye level. It shows the white border and stripes: brown, sand, white, aqua/white variegated, blue, yellow and orange.
The wavy pattern of tricot purl stitches is perfect for the 'water' features.
The higher purl stitches add a three-dimensional quality
as if waves are breaking onto the beach.

At the top of the blue 'ocean' rows, the raised purl stitches again provide a three-dimensional quality, allowing the afghan stitch 'sky' to recede into infinity 'behind' the horizon.

Side view close up of the textures from left to right: purple, pink, orange and yellow in afghan stitch (basic tricot or Tunisian simple stitch), blue aqua and white in tricot purl stitch. sand and brown in basic tricot stitch (afghan stitch)
Close-up of the junction between yellow plain tricot stitches and blue purl stitches.


Tricot is where crochet meets knitting.  It involves loading stitches onto the hook as they are worked (like casting stitches onto a knitting needle) and then casting off the stitches until one loop remains on the hook again.  Because the hook needs to hold so many stitches at once, tricot hooks are longer than regular hooks but if you want to try out the technique, it is possible to use a regular hook if your rows are not too long. 

Tricot hooks come in different shapes and sizes.  The basic straight tricot hook looks like a knitting needle with a hook instead of a point.  Some have a hook on each end, like the one I used for this pattern.  Others consist of a basic crochet hook with a long cord attached, ending with a 'stopper' on the end of the cord (to stop the stitches from falling off the end).  Still others are like circular knitting needles (two needles joined by one cord in the middle) but they are crochet hooks instead and joined by a cord.

For specific instruction on how to work plain (afghan stitch) and purl tricot stitches (Tunisian simple and Tunisian purl stitches) have a look in my reference list below.  I have always learned either from personal instruction or from printed materials so I cannot personally recommend any online tutorials.  An online search for 'Tunisian crochet' should provide some reliable video tutorials.

My challenge was to create a diagonal line across the rows of coloured stripes.  I used an intarsia technique where each block of colour had its own source yarn. There were no colours carried across the back of the work like fair isle and no strands incorporated into the fabric like tapestry crochet.

Intarsia is a knitting and crochet technique that is used for creating designs with blocks or patches of colour similar to the woodwork technique of the same name which creates patterns from inlaid pieces.  

A close up of the green section showing the colour changes along the diagonal line.
Close-up of
diagonal section.

In the case of my placemat, I had one source of green yarn for the entire section of the green 'hill' and one source of yarn for each coloured stripe. When I got to the end of the green section of a row, the green yarn was left hanging at the back of the work while the new stripe colour was picked up and worked to the end of the row.  On the return pass, I dropped the new stripe colour when I got to the 'hill', picked up the green yarn and completed the  row in green. 

The challenge of the diagonal line: tricot stitch has a square pattern to it and I have seen many tricot intarsia patterns look a bit 'blocky' I was hoping to find a way to avoid any 'blocky-ness'.

The other interesting part changing from a plain to a purl stitch at the same time as changing the colour.  I used my test sample to experiment with different methods and to re-acquaint myself with the stitches before I started the placemats.

Test swatch in green cotton showing different stitches and textures.
My test sample:
handy for testing stitches and calculating correct tension.

Two partially completed placemats. One is on a yellow cushion.  A pink double ended hook is along the bottom. The edges of the placemats are curling up.
This picture shows how tricot fabric tends to curl at the top and bottom edges.

Curtailing the Curl

Tricot fabric will curl up at the edges because the stitches are denser at the back than at the front, pushing the front edge forward. The logical solution is to negate that by adding stitches that are denser at the front than the back.  Kim Guzman's favourite stitch for this is Tunisian reverse stitch

She also recommends the use of natural fibres because the curl will be reduced more effectively during blocking.

Other ways to reduce the curl include the use of a larger hook than recommended for the yarn weight because that can reduce the tension and settle the curl a little.

To control the curl, I added a border of herringbone stitch sourced from Edie Eckman's Around the Corner Crochet Borders (border #26). This pattern has a sturdy woven feel to it and holds its shape nicely.  The final round of crab stitch gives a neat finished edge.

Close-up of top right corner of placemat. It shows the white border worked in herringbone stitch and crab stitch for the final round.  One can see the extra row of blue purl stitches above the plain green stitches.
The herringbone stitch border in white
controls the curl of the tricot edges.
The border is completed with a round of crab stitch.

I used a smaller regular hook (3.25 mm) to create stiffer fabric for the border but the thin hook handle combined with cotton (which has less give than other fibres) made it tricky to work the herringbone and crab stitches.  It took a conscious effort to keep my tension loose to avoid sore fingers and hand cramps.

Personal Detail
Close-up of the bottom right corner of a placemat where the date (30 March 2013) is embroidered in white cotton on the green fabric.
The wedding date adds
a sentimental detail.

The final detail: the wedding date!

Embroidery doesn't com easily to me.  It takes a lot of concentration and care for my clumsy fingers to do a neat job and there is yet to be a sewing job where I haven't pricked my fingers or some other part of me with the point of a needle! Ouch!  (Perhaps that's another good reason to prefer crochet over knitting –no sharp pointy needles.) I didn't even try to add initials because I felt my attempts to fashion curved lines would not work, plus the design was based on straight lines so curves felt out of place anyway.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

To keep it simple, the numbers were worked along the straight lines of the plain tricot stitches.  The regular grid pattern of tricot makes it ideal as a base for cross stitch patterns and other embroidery.

Here's the finished product:

Two placemats finished.
The finished set of 'DY Breakfast Placemats'.

There are a few imperfections, perhaps errors that I hadn't noticed in the throes of 'deadline fever', but that's okay because that's the charm of hand-made items and, in any case, no two waves hit the beach the same way, do they? I feel that these placemats share the qualities of the ocean with its combination of regularity and randomness.

Tricot is a suitable technique for placemats because of its thickness and even though there are different textures on the front, the reverse side is very regular and relatively even and neat.

The reverse side of placemats showing the regular texture of the return pass rows. The stitching of the back of the embroidery can be seen on the green fabric at the bottom left hand corner.
Reverse side of placemat.
The use of intarsia means no messy floats, strands or other colours showing through the fabric.

The sunrise is the start of each new day and for loved ones, a wedding is the start of a new life together as a married couple.

The recipients recognised the scene immediately without need for my accompanying note (describing the design and laundering instructions).  That was the best compliment.

Happy Anniversary!

The wedding party on the cliff standing in a heart-shaped formation. One can see the view of the north head of Dee Why beach and the Pacific Ocean horizon in the distance.

 with lots of love

May you enjoy a romantic day!

Project Details

Pattern: DY Placemats designed by Jodiebodie

Date: February–June 2013

Hooks: 4.25 mm  Boye anodised straight double-ended hook (tricot hook) for the body of the placemat; 3.25 mm American Boye anodised regular hook for the border.


Milford Soft 3 ply (4 ply equivalent):
Purple: colour 6788 Soft Lavender; lot 10, 35 g / 156 m
Pink: colour 4300 Soft Lipstick; lot 08, 20 g/ 90 m
Orange: colour 0116 Soft Blaze; lot 7, 31 g / 138 m
Yellow-orange: colour 1450 Soft Mandarin; lot 07, 16 g / 72 m
Blue: colour 0427 Soft Royal Blue; lot 08, 46 g / 205 m
Aqua/white variegated: colour 0740  Soft Ombre Pastel; lot 14, 16 g / 72 m
Brown: colour 7000 Soft Cinnamon; lot 4, 19 g / 85 m
Green: colour 5346 Soft Jade; lot 11, 20 g /90 m

Sullivans Natural Soft Crochet & Knitting Cotton 4 ply, 40 Parramatta Rd, Underwood Queensland 4119 Australia; Auckland NZ; Chicago Ill. USA 
Beach/sand: colour 36001 Natural; lot 2327, 2 skeins, 36 g
Seafoam/white: colour 36000 White; lot 2327, 2 skeins, 30 g


Alexander, Carol, "Help for Curling Edges on Tunisian Crochet", Crochet Connection, web site, Crochet World, Annie's Publishing,  Big Sandy TX, USA, 3 September 2013:
This web site article includes a video tutorial for Tunisian Reverse Stitch.

Eckman, Edie, Around the Corner Crochet Borders (150 colourful, creative, crocheted edgings with charts & instructions for turning the corner perfectly every time), Storey Publishing, North Adams MA, USA, 2010.

Guzman, Kim, crochet designer:

Guzman, Kim, "Summer's Day Placemats", crochet pattern:

Interweave, Interweave Crochet, quarterly magazine,, Interweave Press, Loveland, Colorado, USA.
The stitch guide at the back of each issue usually contains information about basic Tunisian plain and purl stitches.

Jones, Rebecca, The Complete Book of Tricot, Kangaroo Press, Australia, 1991.

Knight, Erika [Editor], Basic Crochet Stitches: 250 to Crochet, Harmony Guides series, first printing, Collins & Brown, London, UK, 2008.
This book gave good examples of herringbone stitch: 'herringbone treble crochet' and 'herringbone half treble crochet' (pp. 42

Manthey, Karen, Brittain, Susan & Holetz, Julie Armstrong, Crocheting for Dummies, Wiley, Hoboken NJ, USA, 2010  

Patons, Woolcraft, vintage booklet, no date, Australia, c. 1978.

Turner, Pauline, How to Crochet (the definitive crochet course complete with step-by-step techniques, stitch libraries and projects for your home and family), Collins & Brown, London, 2001.

Related Posts on Lupey Loops

"Crochet Idyll", 6 March 2013:

"Tricot Tableware - a Special 'Tunisian' Crochet Project", 11 March 2016


  1. Hello Jodie,

    Oops, I just left another comment on your first post about the placemats!!! They look great and make a super gift!

    Wishing you a nice week!
    Ingrid xx

    1. That's cool, Ingrid - no worries!
      Your thoughts are always appreciated and it is good to see your quick comment here because then I know where you are up to with all the news!
      I'm looking forward to seeing your latest work.
      Happy crafting xxx

  2. Hi Jodie,

    What a lovely placemats. I love all the colours. They make a perfect gift!! :-) Have a nice day :-D.

    Sweet greetings,

    1. Hi Emily,
      Always lovely to see you here, especially when you have been so busy lately with your studies, work etc.
      I love bright colours and could not walk past these cottons - I would like to get some more as the leftovers are nearly all gone.
      Happy Easter and all the best with your activities.
      Be good! ;-)

  3. Jodie, these placements are such a wonderful and thoughtful gift. I love the whole idea behind them. Thank you so much for taking the time to describe you process.

    1. I hope it is helpful, Meredith. I have been wanting to blog them since I made them but, because I wanted to do it in detail, it has taken up until now to find the right time and frame of mind.
      I hope you are finding even the tiniest bit of time in your routine to pick up your crochet. :-) I hope you are having a good day. xx

  4. The placemats are lovely, Jodie, and I love the way you personalized them. Your friends must have so happy with you.

    1. Thank you, Amalia. The recipients loved them! xx

  5. This is a wonderful and special gift. Your placemats look so jolly and fresh. Thanks a lot for describing the whole developing process. It is always interesting how other people start a new project. Best wishes, Viola

    1. Hi Viola! Thank you for your comments. Feedback is always valuable.

      I'm so pleased that you described the placemats as 'jolly and fresh' because I was aiming for 'bright, fresh and fun' with sentimentality and commemoration. You have reassured me that I was on the right track!

      It's a relief to know that you found the process interesting - I was worried that the post might be too detailed (and thus too long-winded). I agree with you that it is always interesting to see other people's approaches. The finer details always get me thinking and teach me a lot.

      Wishing you a happy and healthy time! xx

  6. I liked reading this post. Thanks a lot for sharing it here. I am not married but going to tie the knot soon. Very busy in planning my wedding. We have hired a planner and shortlisted some wedding venues Los Angeles that fit well in our budget. Would book one of those venues soon.

    1. Congratulations on your exciting news! Wedding planning can be fun and overwhelming - many decisions and much to do. I hope all goes smoothly. Did you get any ideas from this post? Many crocheters like to incorporate some of their own crochet in their wedding. Is there room for crochet in yours? ;-) I need to ask, can't help it!
      Wishing you all the best for your special day. :-)

  7. Wow.. those placemats are amazing and will be such a family heirloom for them! And you're right, it reminds me of the beach here! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    1. Hi Teresa,

      Thanks for your compliments and it is so cool that you can see your own beach in the design as well. Does your beach face the Pacific Ocean with that amazing expanse of blue?

      I'm sure each ocean has its own 'look' and peculiarities. I wish I knew some seafaring friends who could tell me for sure as I have only seen the Pacific and the Southern Oceans. Every photo I have seen of the Pacific shows it as a beautiful blue colour, unlike the Southern Ocean off South Australia which is more a blue-green to greeny-grey colour whenever I have seen it.

      Wishing you happy beach days, now that your summer is not too far away.