Bosnian Crochet: Making Fabric From Slip Stitch

A Challenging But Beautiful Design Idea

Slip Stitch Crochet

Lejla Siljak / EyeEm, Getty Images

Most people think of slip stitch as a basic crochet stitch that serves a foundational, but limited, purpose. You use it for joining, including joining to close rounds, for example. However, you can actually use slip stitch to create an entire swatch of crocheted fabric. When you do, it's called Bosnian Crochet.

It's challenging, because you have to struggle a bit to figure out exactly where to place your hook as the rows develop. It's also time consuming since slip stitch is a short stitch. You'll use a lot of yarn in Bosnian crochet. Nevertheless, it creates a beautiful, very dense fabric. It's particularly well-suited for menswear; you could crochet an elegant tie in this stitch! There are also some great Bosnian crochet hat patterns.

If you're looking for a project to occupy your time then you might want to try slip stitch crochet.

How to Crochet Slip Stitch Fabric

If you'd like to try crocheting a common version of Bosnian crochet then simply work a starting chain of any length and crochet slip stitches into each stitch across the row.

When you get to the end of the row, you'll have to turn the work. It's also time to decide whether or not to work a turning chain. If you work a turning chain, it will be taller than the slip stitches, and this will create a bit of a ruffle along the sides of the fabric. If you skip the turning chain, turning might seem a little awkward to you, but it can be done. Try both ways to see what works best for you.

To do the second row, you'll work in slip stitch all the way back across. You can achieve different effects by crocheting into different loops. Working in one loop only may be easier, particularly as you're first getting started with slip stitch crochet. So feel free to experiment!

The third and subsequent rows are all the same. You're just going to slip stitch in each stitch across. Use stitch markers to keep your count because it's easy to add or skip stitches in this dense fabric. When you're done with your last stitch on your last row, end off and weave in your ends.

Challenges of Slip Stitch Crochet:

When it comes to making fabrics with slip stitch, there are several downsides:

  • Slip stitch is shorter than other crochet stitches, which explains why slip stitch fabrics tend to grow slowly compared to fabrics worked in other crochet stitches.
  • Communicating the instructions for a slip stitch fabric can get a little confusing; working from patterns can be similarly challenging. When following a pattern, it's not always easy to differentiate which loop you should be working into.
  • Some variations of slip stitch crochet require expertise. Most variations of slip stitch crochet require a significant amount of patience.

This doesn't mean that it's too hard for you to try it. You just want to be patient as you see whether or not it's for you. Make something small to start, such as a washcloth. Use a light colored yarn so that you can easily see the loops even with these short stitches.

Slip Stitch Crochet Hooks / Pjoning Hooks

Some crocheters find it challenging to work slip stitch crochet with an ordinary crochet hook. A pjoning hook is a hook that is shaped especially with slip stitch in mind. It has a wide flat handle that makes it easier to grip for this type of crochet.

Other Names for Slip Stitch Crochet

Crochet terminology is not always standardized, and this is one of those cases. Part of the problem is that language barriers contribute to the overall confusion. It's widely konwn as slip stitch crochet and Bosnian crochet. However, it may go by other names as well.

Here are a few but do note that these names do not all mean exactly the same exact thing, and they cannot necessarily all be used interchangeably but they all do refer to similar techniques involving slip stitch and crocheting.

  • English Names: Shepherd's knitting; however, this is also sometimes used to refer to Tunisian crochet, which is a completely different technique requiring a longer crochet hook. It may also be called Dutch Knitting or Old World Crochet.
  • Norwegian Name: Pjoning
  • Swedish Names: according to Barbro Heikinmatti, various slip stitch techniques are referred to in Swedish as "smygmaskvirkning," "gammelvirkning," "påtning," "gobelängvirkning," "bosnisk virkning," and "krokvirkning."