Looking for more of Vashti’s star stitch designs? See all of her self published star stitch designs here. See all of her unpublished star stitch projects here (log in to Ravelry first to see all of them). These are self-updating links.
I’ve just returned from teaching “Big-Hook Slip Stitch Crochet” in icy Chicago. I urge everyone to gather up their jumbo crochet hooks and super bulky yarns! Some of my slip stitch projects take only an hour or two this way.
Tip: throw in at least one strand of alpaca or angora. These fibers are four times warmer than wool. Add a yarn with a halo like mohair, or a textured novelty yarn, to fill in any gaps between stitches.
Be ready for the next cold snap with this set of five jumbo crochet hooks—sizes Q, R, S, T, and U—bundled with a free Big Hook Bucket pattern. (It’s already at a discount as a kit so I’m unable to discount it further for NatCroMo readers, sorry.) You can buy these crochet hooks individually here.
Armed with these hooks you’ll also be ready for when I release these new Big-Hook Slip Stitch crochet patterns (links currently go to their Ravelry project pages):
Zumie Lace Vest I used a size S (19 mm) hook for most of it. This one-skein lace item took only 45 minutes to crochet. Yarn: the fun Hikoo Zumie by Skacel.
Pink kitty-ears hat with only 95 yds and an M/9 mm hook. It’s simple back loop slip stitch in rows, then seamed on the top and side. It came out smallish on me and perfect on my friend (she kept it!). No yarn left over so I’m mulling a way to get a slightly more out of about 95 yds of yarn for this.
Two years later a visitor to the DesigningVashti Facebook page requested the pattern. Again in deep crochet class prep mode, I had to put it off until after teaching and a series of seven crochet tutorials I’d agreed to do for the Cut Out & Keep site.
By then the US election had just taken place. I appreciated the sweet, loving patterns crochet and knit designers were spontaneously posting. I returned to the 2014 attempts to blend stars and love knots in one pattern. It was a pleasure to finally polish it up into a fun, versatile, balanced stitch pattern. I hoped the idea of harmonizing and unifying two popular stitches of very different traditions might lift others’ spirits.
The basic stitch pattern is available here. I used it to make a 6.5″ square block with DK weight yarn and a G7/4.5 mm hook. A border would probably turn it into a 7″ block.
The Lovelace Ring Scarf design happened next because I needed a self-edging version. It came to me during Thanksgiving. As I lay there contemplating the stitch pattern I’d sent off to Cut Out & Keep, I wondered about giving the basic stitch pattern a selvage (no need to edge it later).
The start and end of the love knot section always looked a bit stringy and unstable to me. I also wanted to vary the texture bands and widen it for a lush, romantic ring scarf.
This is how Lovelace came to be.
Is a Love-Knot-to-Star-Stitch Scarf…Challenging?
Both are Intermediate-level crochet stitches but that doesn’t mean they’re difficult. I include tips and visual aids in the pattern that have worked in my classes. Most of Lovelace is rows of easy, familiar stitches like single and half double crochets (sc and hdc, or as they say in the UK: dc and htr).
These easy stitches are a backdrop to the fancy stitches. Like peacekeeping diplomats they harmonize relations between the two iconic, culturally powerful, individualistic “diva” stitches.
My experience of crocheting star stitches (stars) and love knots (LK) in the same pattern is that I get some comfort zone rows of simple stitches, then a spicy row or two, then more comfort zone.
Dramatic Differences Between Stars & Love Knots
I researched both of these two unique stitches deeply. I don’t recall ever seeing them combined in one stitch pattern. If you have, please let me know in the comments.
Love knots are reversible, star stitches are not. It was an issue with my early swatches.
Love knots are more independent than the usual crochet stitch, and star stitches are the other extreme. This shows in lots of ways. Add Love Knots anywhere like a chain stitch because it’s a type of foundation stitch. Each LK is distinct, complete, and recognizable from a distance.
Star stitches require context. The stitch just before it, after it, and often above it determine how recognizable each star is!
Love knots likely originated as a southern lace, star stitches as a northern thermal fabric. LK were almost always crocheted in very fine cotton and silk threads for delicate and summery edgings, baby bonnets, and petite “opera bags”.
Stars have been used most often for making thick, dense coats and blankets in wool. Even when early stars looked like fine spidery lace, wool was the fiber of choice. (That’s why my unofficial name for the original swatch is “North and South stitch pattern“.)
Interesting Similarities Between Them
Both LK and stars are romantic, iconic, classic/old-fashioned, popular, and beloved.
Both originated in the early to mid-1800’s.
Both have long been favored for baby things. (Stars: baby blankets and coats; LK: sacques, bonnets, layette edgings.)
Both can be lacy. When star stitches are lacy, you’re looking at pulled loops, just like with LK.
It’s a short update today. Checkout this pretty photo I took this morning of a brand-new star stitch class swatch. This is what the Starwirbel Cowl stitch pattern looks like when it’s done in flat spiraling rounds. (It still has the scrap yarn marking the spiraling rounds.) I’m testing the shaping information in the Starwirbel Way class handout.
Thanks for joining me as I blog the 50 days of preparation for the crochet conference this summer! It’s Day 11 which means I’ve blogged one-fifth of the 50 days.
Have I completed one-fifth of my tasks? Frankly, I don’t know. There are so many little things to do that they’re hard to count accurately. If my gut says I’m moving through things at a good pace, I’ve learned I can trust that and enjoy the constant river of details that get done as they flow through me. I’m halfway through my list of things to do for the Starwirbel star stitch class.
It was my gut that said, “For the 2016 conference you’ll have from half to two-thirds of 2015’s river of show booth details to manage. After several years of teaching you’ll have slightly less than half of a river of teaching details, so GO FOR IT! DO BOTH!”
This is the bottom band of a crochet poster. See the rest of it below. View full size.
Chainmaille is a downloadable DesigningVashti crochet pattern that was recently the focus of a CAL (Crochet Along) in northern Illinois. I thought you and the CAL participants would enjoy seeing a few variations I’ve swatched of this fascinating crochet texture.
The Structure of a Fascinating Crochet Fabric
Long chains cross over a filet surface in a herringbone-like pattern. It’s easier to see in striping colors, above and below.
It might also be easier to see in different types of yarn. The alpaca-tencel yarn adds to the scarf’s unique look. I used a cotton-acrylic blend for the afghan block at right. For the V-o-t-e poster I used two strands held together of a cotton-rayon blend.
It helps me to think of it as two layers of lace: each gives the other added dimension and visual depth. This makes it lighter to wear. It also drapes better than the solid layered and aran-style crochet fabrics.
How did Chainmaille come about?
I first saw a confusing photo of the stitch pattern in a book. I couldn’t make out what its texture was like, and the book offered no stitch diagram for it. (It turns out that a stitch diagram wouldn’t have helped me, I just had to crochet it first.) I now understand why the photo confused me: a layered crochet texture is hard to capture in a two-dimensional image. If light shows through the layers, that also adds mystery.
For me, the Chainmailledesign is all about immersing oneself in a fascinating crochet fabric. There is no shaping or complicated assembly. Turning it into a cowl is simple enough: just seam it into a tube. Leave it unseamed for a neck warmer, or make it longer like I did to wear as a scarf. (Or gift to a man.)
I met with a CAL participant, Susan Kenyon, at the Chain Link crochet conference in San Diego a few weeks ago. Susan and I seem to share the same kind of enjoyment of this fascinating crochet stitch pattern. It sounds like the CAL was fun.