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Crochet Star Stitch How-To

This post is being revised and updated. Please check back.

A Guide to Star Stitches in Patterns

All right. Here’s the thing: star stitches are beautiful, and also tricky sometimes. This is a solidly intermediate level stitch that requires from 5 to 12 steps to complete, depending on the stitch variation.

Most of us use patterns when crocheting this stitch, so most crocheters will encounter star stitch types that vary a little, or a lot. Toward the end of this post I use colored dots to give you a heads-up on some variations you might encounter.

This is still a “basic” start stitch how-to, though! The stitch variations complicate it, but you need to know about them because we’re all equally likely to encounter a variation any time we use a new star stitch crochet pattern.

Want to follow along with hook and yarn? With blue (or a dark color) yarn, chain 15, double crochet (dc) in the 4th chain (ch) from your hook and in each remaining ch: 11 dc; 12 dc if you count the 3 chs you skipped. Change to white (or a light color) yarn. Chain 3 and turn.

A star stitch is intricately linked with the stitch before it.
It may look like image #1 skipped some steps, but read the directions above and below.

Basic Star Stitch How-to:

  1. Pull up a loop in the second white ch from your hook, in the top of the first blue dc, and in each of the next two blue dc. Yarn over (yo) and pull through all 5 loops on hook. Your stitches should look like image #1 above.
  2. Ch 1 to form the eyeThis completes one star stitch. The arrow is pointing to the eye of the star.
  3. To begin another star stitch, insert your crochet hook in that eye, yarn over, and pull up a loop.

Really Look At the Loops

In image #4, we see the two loops on the hook from image #3, plus three more loops. One of the loops was pulled up in the same blue dc as the completed star. I marked that with a yellow dot. Notice the two pink dots. Those are the two next blue dc of the row. I’ll come back to these dots later.

Two red dots (image #4) indicate the two next stitches of the row to crochet the new star stitch into. Image #5 identify what the stitch loops become in a completed star vs while a star in progress.
These two images illustrate how to avoid accidentally increasing or decreasing along the row.

When you yarn over and pull the yarn through all 5 loops on your hook, you get image #5. Here’s what those arrows are all about: The two pairs of green arrows point out that the base of that completed star take up two blue dc; the top of that star counts as two stitches (the eye and what is called its top in most patterns). Each star counts as a two-stitch group.

The two lower purple arrows point out the same thing about this new star-in-progress: the base of it takes up only two new blue dc of the row.

The purple arrow pointing to the loop on the hook will become the star’s eye the minute we chain 1 to complete the star.

Common “Side of Star” Option

The side loops of the star are shown with an orange dot in image #6. Image #7 shows what it looks like when you pull up a loop in the side. Colored dots also indicated other places to pull up loops.
Pay attention to just the ORANGE dot for now.

Image #6: More colored dots! The orange dot indicates the side of the star. The side of the star has a front loop and a back loop. In many star stitch patterns, you pull up a loop in the side of the star. Sometimes it doesn’t matter which loop, other times the front or the back loop is specified.

In image #7 you can see that a loop has been pulled up in the side of the star. In the smaller inset (7), the loop was pulled up in only the back loop of the side.

Loop Priorities

The two most important places to pull up loops while making star stitches are:

  • the eye (the white dot in image #6), and
  • one of the two new stitches of the row (the pink dot that’s furthest from the star).

All of the other loops you pull up between these two places are flexible and variable, meaning you can omit pulling up a loop in one, or opt to add a loop in one. You needn’t have five loops on your hook before completing a star stitch; for example, you can ignore the place indicated with the yellow dot, or the orange dot in image #6. Or include both.

You’ll likely develop a favorite way to make your star stitches. Most likely you can substitute the star you want in a pattern you’re using, but of course swatch to make sure. (Occasionally the stitch or row gauge will change slightly.)

It’s like picots: most experienced crocheters have their own favorite way to make a picot and freely use their own where they wish.

The blue dot with the red X signals an error (image #6 & 7). If you pull up a loop past the two pink dots, you’ll start decreasing. Your star will take up 3 stitches of the row, but still only give back only 2 stitches in its top loops. Does that make sense? And that is what my newsletter issue #73 is about.

(Note: There’s a star stitch out there that does take up 3 stitches of a row instead of 2. The stitch count is adjusted in the next row.)

Want more Star Stitches?

I’ve written four newsletters about star stitches over the years: Star Stitch Lace Pretties, Star Stitch the Tunisian ConnectionShaping Star Stitches, Foundation Star Stitch. Although I’ve created star stitch step outs for patterns and for classes, I thought I’d already blogged one for star stitches—like I have for Love Knots, basics of Foundation Stitches, and “camel crochet” (third loop of single crochet).

I hope this star stitch how-to comes in handy.

Star Stitch Patterns by Vashti Braha: Starlooper Mobius, Starpath Scarf, Q-Star Coverlet, and Starwirbel.

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Long Tail Crochet Foundations

Issue #72 of my Crochet Inspirations Newsletter is about “long tail crochet”: crocheting with a long yarn end instead of just weaving in a shorter one to make it disappear. As promised in that issue, below is the full size comparison chart of crochet foundations in order of stretchiness. All but the first two and last two examples can be considered long tail crochet foundations.

Long Tail Crochet Foundations, Stretched
(Same yarn and hook size used for all of them).

 

See issue #72 “Long Tail Crochet” for clickable versions of links shown, and more.

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Deluxe Crochet Hook Diagram: Free Download

Part of the crochet hook diagram I sketched for "Beyond Crochet Hook Debates" issue 71.
I’ve greatly expanded this page since first posting it in 2015, when it was a follow up to newsletter issue 71, “Beyond Crochet Hook Debates”. It’s also now part of an ongoing Crochet Basics series.

 

Thumbnail of Vashti's deluxe crochet hook diagram PDF

At first glance the crochet hook is a very simple tool, so why are there so many different kinds? What makes crocheters fiercely devoted to some and not others? You could make your own crochet hook by carving a notch into the end of a stick or dowel and sanding it smooth. I realized how carefully designed hooks really are when I reshaped a store-bought one.

Please enjoy my deluxe crochet hook diagram and a “hook heat map” from my newsletter (free PDF)Complete Diagram of a Standard Crochet Hook.

Creating a crochet hook diagram also helped me tease out the finer elements that make all the difference between one hook and another. My first sketch grew into a comprehensive map! It brings together terms from several different sources.

How Many Crochet Hooks?

How many crochet hook sizes should there be? How many crochet hooks does a crocheter need? It turns out the answer is different for every crocheter because it depends on about five factors, below.

Consider the yarn you like to crochet with.

Some crocheters are very partial to one or two yarn thicknesses, called weights. Medium or worsted weight is a crowd-pleaser, for example. If you like to crochet with yarn of any weight, from cobweb to roving, you need a few different hook sizes for each of the eight yarn weight categories (#0 Lace to #7 Jumbo)!

How about fiber types?

I’m still surprised sometimes when a crochet hook gets along much better with one yarn than another. If you like to experience the full menu of fibers and fiber blends, from the fuzziest to the slipperiest all spun in different ways, you’re going to need hooks with different head shapes and surface finishes.

  • I really notice this when I crochet with a non-yarn like wire, jewelry cords, and fabric strips.
  • I can pick up a lot of speed with a hook that has a glossy aluminum finish except with very glossy silk yarn. That’s when a brushed matte finish is better.
  • When a fluffy microfiber (synthetic) yarn drags on a giant plastic hook because of static electricity, I switch to a wood hook.
  • When a yarn is dense and round like spaghetti (Jelly Yarn, rayon-wrap cordé, wire, tubing, leather lacing, etc.), a crochet hook with a roomy “bowl”[see diagram] is much better than one with a slit-style bowl.

What kinds of things?

Want to try every possible kind of project, from beaded jewelry to exploded lace to sturdy totes to thick blankets to…so many more kinds of things!? Projects can require very particular crochet hook sizes, styles, and finishes.

Situations, events, and physical conditions.

I have favorite hooks for marathon crocheting (when I have a big crochet deadline to meet). You might like to have a hook set just for traveling like I do; for plane flights I try to avoid metal hooks. Plastic and wood hooks are lighter in my bag, and less quick to slide down between seats to be lost forever.

For those crocheters with hands that are particularly small or large, sensitive to cold, tire easily, are arthritic or in recovery from surgery, and so on, there are crochet hooks specially designed for you. Look for hooks in ergonomic shapes. You can also add your own ergonomic handle with clay, pencil grippers, wrapped fabric, and other materials.

What if you need to crochet in a low- or no-light situation? Light-up hooks, and those that don’t match the color of your yarn are best.

Any special techniques or stitches?

Like to try dramatically different stitches like bullions, split clusters, and picking out that bump loop of single crochets? Tunisian and double-ended crochet? Crochet along the edge of fabric? Cro-tatting? The right crochet hook for the job sure makes a big difference with these.

Loop Picking”: Hooks with a pointier head are very helpful when trying to pick specific loops to crochet into. Camel crochet is a classic case. I usually reach for one when I do Tunisian or slip stitch crochet. Some brands are naturally pointier. I like how easy it is to file the heads of my inexpensive bamboo hooks in different shapes to learn what works best for me.

Beading: I need to have steel crochet hooks of several sizes on hand. You’ll need some with hook heads that are small and streamlined enough to pull a loop of thread or yarn through bead holes. Tulip has done this with their bead crochet hooks.

Tunisian: (Projects can really vary, so I’m going to do a separate post on Tunisian hooks.) Generally I need the length of the hook head to be as short as possible [see diagram], and I need the surface to be frictionless with the particular yarn.

Hard Crochet”: The 1970’s crocheter Mark Dittrick emphasized the difference a large steel hook (size 0 or 1: 2.35–3.25 mm) makes for his ultra tight and stiff sculptural crocheting.

Crochet Hooks as Treasure

Did a family member teach you how to crochet? My mother taught me. I treasure her crochet hooks and the brown moiré jewelry wrap that she used as a hook case.

When you teach a family member, you create a future where your favorite crochet hooks will be cherished!

If you know someone who would like this detailed crochet hook diagram, please be kind and send them to this blog post so that they can download their own copy directly. Right-click this direct link to copy it: https://www.designingvashti.com/crochet-hook-diagram-free-download. Thanks!

The next post in this series is on the surprisingly rich topic of crochet hook sizing.
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Crochet Cable Boot Cuff Pattern in Progress

Lucky Twist Bootslip folded over boot top

New Crochet Cable Boot Cuff Pattern!

The Lucky Twist Boot Cuff in action!

A few days ago I sent out issue #65 of my Crochet Inspirations newsletter: “Mock Cables in Slip Stitch Crochet.” I’m getting questions from readers about the dark brown crochet cable boot cuff photo (shown below). I crocheted that one in November 2012. The gray striped one is fresh off the hook.

The 2012 brown one is actually a prototype of the new crochet slip stitch Lucky Twist Mitts. It’s my newest downloadable pattern. A matching Lucky Twist crochet cable boot cuff pattern is almost finished.

Update: The boot cuff pattern is done!

The early brown Lucky Twist swatch helped me test lots of things. For example, how stretchy the limp five-ply merino yarn would be as a mitt (not enough). How much to taper the ribbed edge with short rows. I wondered about the speckled dyeing and overall dark brown tones.

As I mentioned in the newsletter, I had to dramatically brighten these photos just so that the cabled stitch textures would show up! So in real life I’d need to be standing in full sunshine to see the cabled surface texture in a dark brown yarn. The short amber color flecks are pretty, but they distract a bit from the cables.

First swatch of Lucky Twists Boot Cuffs pattern

This was also the first boot cuff prototype I’d ever crocheted. So I learned about:

  • Finished dimensions for a good crochet cable boot cuff pattern.
  • Stitch surface textures and yarn colors that show up well on that area of the body. (Lighter colors help.)
  • Should one or both edges of a boot cuff taper? (I prefer it tapered at one end only.)
  • How much yarn and time does it take to crochet boot cuffs? (About as long as crocheting just 14 inches of a scarf!)
  • Thickness of yarn and of stitches that fit inside the boot top. (Medium weight yarn seems fine for the boots I own.)
  • Folded, unfolded, scrunched. All ways are fun!

Crochet Boot Cuffs, 2012 and beyond

Back in 2012, crochet boot cuffs were such a new trend that they might have just been a one-season fad. That November I traveled to northern Illinois to teach a crochet retreat. It was a boot-wearing opportunity that I don’t often get here in Florida.

It was in Illinois that I started the brown crochet cable boot cuff pattern prototype. I’d be able to test how much warmth they add, and if I enjoy wearing them.

I discovered that crochet boot cuffs feel great! I wore them over dark tights with skirts. They stayed put. I enjoyed wearing them all ways – scrunched, folded over the boot, and unfolded. Down low into the boot or up near the knee. I did find that I wanted longer ones that covered more of my legs for warmth.

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How to Increase Tunisian Crochet Stitch Blocks

Try these three ways to add stitches at the end of a Forward Pass.

The first two methods are my favorite because they don’t limit how many stitches you can increase at a time. (Please see issue #64 of my newsletter for more). This means I can smoothly add big lacy spaces and whole blocks of solid stitch repeats where I wish in Tunisian crochet. This is something I’ve always loved about regular crochet.

If you prefer a different method, please let me know in the comments!

Method #1. How to Add Tunisian Stitches with Half Hitches

Each of the two loops added to the crochet hook are loosened to make it easy to see that they're simple loops with a bit of twist before adding to the hook.
A half hitch is simply a loop with a twist in it.

In my original 2009 blog post about this method I use a pair of them as a double half hitch (dhh). Any number of half hitches can also be used singly for shaping Tunisian crochet.

By the way, you can also use the simple little loop shown in this first photo to crochet limpets. It’s best known as the simple/single/backwards loop cast on in knitting. It’s also used in tatting and in macramé. This video shows half hitches being added to a knitting. This is how I do it and I’ve really picked up speed.
Scroll past the first one (“Long-Tail Cast-On”) to the one called “Single Cast-On Also Known As Backward-Loop Cast-On.”

Method #2. How to Use Tunisian Foundation Slip Stitches as Increases

Tunisian foundation slip stitch: at the end of a Forward Pass, chain, remove last loop from hook, insert hook in a ch loop, then put live loop back onto hook. An increase of one stitch.
Feel free to choose a loop other than the tinted ones shown.

At the end of your Forward Pass, insert hook in one side loop of the end stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop. Then chain the number of stitches you wish to add. (I chained four in this photo.) Then take the last loop off of your hook; your stitches should resemble those in the photo.

Then, insert your hook under one loop of the first chain (tinted pink) and leave on your hook. Repeat with each remaining chain; then put the live loop back on your hook, as described in the caption.

I found this Tfslst method after I designed the Five Peaks Shawl with half hitch increases. I used Tfslsts in the Four Peaks Scarf pattern, and most recently in the Warm Aeroette Scarf.

I love having both of these methods to choose from, depending on the project.

They are probably interchangeable enough that you could use the one you prefer. (More on that in the newsletter.)

The most important thing is to choose a method that doesn’t impose a limit!

Often when someone asks in a forum how to increase Tunisian crochet stitches, the advice is to squeeze them in. Typically this means adding a stitch in another loop just behind or next to another stitch. This method is fine if you’re replacing a stitch that you accidentally decreased in an earlier row. If you think of basic Tunisian crochet fabric as a grid, space was already reserved for the missing stitch, and you’re just filling it back in.

Method #3. The “Squeeze-It-In” (my least favorite shaping method).

Left triangular swatch is starting to curl along one edge. Other triangle is symmetrical with nice drape.
Effect of the “squeeze-it-in” method shows in the left swatch. Not recommended for something like a shawl.

The Squeeze-it-in method has limits. It’s okay for just a rare stitch here and there, and away from the edges. In other words, as an “internal” shaping method. I don’t mean to impose rigid rules. Depending on the project, yarn type, and hook size, squeezing in new stitches when you wish may come out fine.

For me, this shaping method often interferes with my goal of a languid, swaying drape for Tunisian crochet accessories. When I consider how to increase Tunisian crochet edges for a new design, Squeeze-it-in is last on my list.