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Lacy Star Stitch Pretties!

Starwirbel Capelet veil-like version.I'm swooning! I found a treasure chest of lacy star effects and I want to show them off, even though most are only preliminary swatches (aside from Starwirbel at left).


Starwirbel was a simple idea: try crocheting star stitches with a big crochet hook and a skinny yarn. Instant lace! Lacy star stitches drape, stretch, and look lovely on both sides. (They're also faster to crochet). 

1881 Star Stitch

I'm discovering a whole constellation of lacy stars out there!

1886 Star Stitch

Look at these 1880's stitch drawings. I'd never seen the "eye" part of the star accentuated like this (the chain-1 that completes each star forms the "eye"). I didn't realize the one on the left is also a star stitch until I swatched it (light blue swatch just below).


Accentuating the Eyes vs. the Spokes

Big starry eyes swatch in sport wt. yarn with L/8mm hook.

It turns out that how you pull up the loops to form the "spokes" of the star can make them look more like petals around a flower center.
Petal-like: more Star loops ("spokes") in the "eyes." Plum swatch at left is one of the more petal-like variations I tried (I added yarn-overs before pulling up some of the loops).


1891 Star Stitches with eyes closed.

A 1891 drawing (see third drawing at right) kept coming to mind after I finished Starwirbel. The Star stitch eyes are big and open in Starwirbel, but in this drawing, the eyes are "closed." All you see of these stars are the "spokes."

I swatched it in light fingering weight Danish wool with a 6.5 mm ("K") hook. It looked like the drawing until I blocked it.


 Starry Eyes: Closed or Wide Open?

Eyes open starsHow do you get starry eyes to open or close? One key factor is how many loops are pulled up in the eye. Use a bigger hook and crochet more loops in the eye to hold the eye open wider. Makes sense, doesn't it? For closed eyes, one thing you can do is skip working into the eyes entirely.
1891 Starry Danish wool
Rows (Turning) vs. Rounds - In other words, must all rows face the front? Some of the best-known star patterns require cutting the yarn at the end of every row. You can also turn and do a non-star row, such as all single crochets in the eyes only, or not. With lacy stars, choosing one of these options can create a whole new look!

Weird, Wonderful Lace Weight Yarns

Playing with yarns from the Lace Weight category is an adventure: I'm swatching stars with primarily wool types - not cotton crochet threads. It's a weird catch-all type of yarn category. Crochet thread sizes overlap with it, and are more precise than superfine yarn sizes. See how different the star stitches look in these three lace weight yarns? All were crocheted with the same 6.5 mm ("K") hook:Stars in 3 lace weight yarns: merino, cashmere, and baby alpaca.

(L to r: fine micron merino; cashmere; baby alpaca.)

Yarn choice has a dramatic influence. Loopy loose-gauge stars are quite the divas: just a sprinkle of sequins or metallics lights them up! Alpaca and mohair make loops spring open or look coiled. A tightly spun yarn does too. I wrote an early newsletter issue about this: "Fibers that Sproing" (2011):

That's it for #60! If you know someone who would enjoy this kind of newsletter, please forward this to them so that they can subscribe. (Click here to subscribe: ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks!      --Vashti
A Constellation of Lacy Effects
Fine Merino Lace Stars
I'm so in love.

2 New Star Lace Swatches
(Lindsay the mannequin is here to give some sense of scale.)

Danish wool star stitches (rough shaping swatch)
A very unofficial swatch of a lace that takes my breath away. The weird edges are due to different shaping experiments.

Can you help me? This kind of lace may have originated in Norway or other northern European countries in the mid-1800's. Have you seen antique crochet that looks like these swatches? Maybe you have family member who crocheted like this. If you've seen pre-1881 Star stitches anywhere, please email me. Thank you!

DesigningVashti News
A Starwirbel Crochet Along is just now starting up in the Ravelry, everyone is welcome!
Starwirbel pattern in Ravelry Shop
I'm hearing about the 11.5 mm crochet hook size in the Starwirbel pattern. The hook is not available
 in some countries. (Check your Tunisian hooks too to be sure.) Luckily you can use whatever hook size you wish, just try it with your yarn and see if you swoon! The Crochet Along discussion, and the pattern, have simple instructions for customizing your project.
No worries! As you can see from the examples in this issue, star stitch lace is adaptable to the range of yarns in the lace weight category, and crochet hooks.
Blogged: Becoming a Yarn Company, Five Months In 

Everything About Lotus Yarn tab added to the blog:

Blogged a review of Gwen Blakley Kinsler's new Fine Art of Crochet book.

Links I Enjoyed This Week

Have you seen Kim Guzman's new Make It Crochet site? She featured Starwirbel on Apr 20.
I love what Kim wrote: "I was thrilled to discover that this piece was designed by a friend, Vashti Braha. She is well-known to me as being very meticulous and her reviews of vintage or antique techniques and stitches are always very fun. Vashti, once again, does not disappoint."

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