|Star Stitches & Tunisian Bars
After combing through over 150 sources from as early as 1843 for information about Star stitches, I've noticed something curious. They have long been associated with Tunisian crochet in interesting ways, and yet I've found no truly Tunisian Star stitch.
By truly Tunisian I mean there's no turning, just forward and return passes. By truly Star stitch, I mean that an "eye" is created after 4-7 loops or "spokes" are worked off of the hook at once, and the first loop of the next Star is worked in that "eye." Very important distinction.
The eyes of the stars are exaggerated in the capelet photo at right.
A 19th century source might refer to Tunisian crochet to clarify how to crochet a Star stitch: "take up _ sts as you would for Afghan stitch" or "work across in rows as with tricot." Nowadays we don't do this. To crochet a single crochet decrease (sc dec), the Trinity stitch (which is like a 3-sc dec or "sc3tog"), or a 5-spoke Star stitch, you *insert the hook in a stitch, yarn over (yo) and pull up a loop, and leave it on the hook while you repeat from * any number of times; then yo and pull through all the loops on the hook. We don't add, "as with Tunisian simple stitch (Tss)."
I'm researching Star sts because I'll be teaching the ultimate three-hour class on them this July. Why Star sts? Because they looked new to me when I swatched them with my new Lotus yarn last fall. The texture, structure, and variations of Star sts are all fascinating.
I remember learning Star sts back in the 1970's or '80's - and not feeling confident that I was doing it right. I was much more confident about Tss. I saw the sts together in designs (the combo seems to have peaked in the '70's). I figured it was natural for some of those Star sts to be Tunisian (requiring a Return Pass).
First Attempts at My Own Tunisian Star Stitches!
Weird blue stitches at left: very first attempt at Tunisian Star sts.
Ever tried Tunisian Forward & Return Passes of Star sts? Wow. Crazytown! Crazy because of what happens to the top loops of the Stars, and the way the Stars tilt. Unless you do something about it, they come out looking like baskets with handles. Some of the photos in this newsletter are stages my Tunisian Stars went through as I gradually pinpointed what gives a classic Star stitch its signature look. I'm still tweaking.
At right, an attempt at lacier Tunisian Star stitches. Hmm. Different.
When I'm pleased with my Tunisian Stars I'll design something with them! I can already tell that I'll love the unique way they drape. (See what I mean in newsletter #24, Tunisian filet lace drape compared with regular filet.)
Pink sts at left: my third attempt at Tunisian Stars.
Using Star sts and Tss together in the same project has been a popular combination since at least 1891. The earliest occurrence I've found is for a toddler petticoat. The combination seemed to peak in the 1960's-'70's, and then Star sts seemed to go out of vogue in the 1980's-'90's.
Grey sts at right: these are 100% Tunisian, but not Star sts. I found it in a 1953 booklet of stoles and shawls.
It's a great combination of textures, but why a row of Stars + Tss rows instead of Stars and Tunisian Knit stitch (Tks) for example; or Roll sts (Bullions) and Tss?
That's it for #59! 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