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Star Stitches & Tunisian Bars

Time-sensitive announcement: Free shipping on yarn until this Sat. April 5th; see lower right column.


1886 Star Stitch. Link goes to Star St Flickr photo set.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.
Starwirbel new downloadable crochet pattern
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)."

Starpath Scarf swatchesI'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: http://eepurl.com/XwQk ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks!      --Vashti
How Tunisian are Star Stitches?
My most successful swatch so far of 100% Tunisian Star stitches!
My truly 100% Tunisian Star Stitches so far. 
(Clicking on swatch photos takes you to my Star Sts Flickr photo set.)

Example of classic non-Tunisian Star sts alternated with Tss.
In this second photo you can see a very traditional pairing of Tunisian Simple Stitch rows with a row of Star sts in regular crochet. It's followed by turning, and then a row of half double sts (UK: half trebles) so that the right side is facing again.

Closest thing I've found to true Tunisian Stars, though no Return Pass.
For a long time I thought this 3rd example is a true Tunisian Star stitch, but there's no Return Pass. Since you end up at the wrong end of the row, I think of this now as a linked stitch Star stitch.
 
DesigningVashti News
In honor of the stars Lotus Yarn put in our eyes (see story at left), FREE SHIPPING ON YARN ORDERS in the US until Saturday April 5! Use the code Lotus4Spring in your shopping cart. (Outside the US? Email us.)

Fresh off the hook and in the shop! Starwirbel Cowl & Capelet of Spiraling Star Stitch Lace

New! Starwirbel Spiraling Star Stitch Lace
DV Shophttp://bit.ly/1e7Mzmn
In Ravelryhttp://bit.ly/1dK23mf
Starwirbel Star Stitch Lace, the Cowl Version
The cowl used under an oz. (under 136 yds) of yarn. The capelet above didn't use much more.

DORIS CHAN HAS NEWS. I can't quite reveal her new designs yet but she blogged important stuff:
1) Doris is heading up the 2014 CGOA Design Contest. Go here for all the official info, plus winning cuteness! http://bit.ly/1gmkh7H
2) Check out her interesting new 'twist' on yarn winding here!

Registration is open for simply the best national conference there is for serious crocheters. Expect crochet classes to sell out: it's the only conference this year (normally there are two). Also, CGOA celebrates its 20th anniversary with this event. Sign up for a Vashti class* on slip stitches, Tunisian crochet lace, or love knots; my Star stitches class is Friday July 25. Manchester NH, July 23-27. Classes, Teachers, Registration herehttp://bit.ly/ObGJJO . *pssst: Maybe sign up for all of them? I'm taking a break from national teaching in 2015 due to a big new crochet venture.

Le Gallery du Frostyflakes! 
This inspiring project gallery is evidence that the Frostyflakes CAL has been a warm cheerful spot during this year's extended winter-into-spring season. Below: Headless ghost mannequins warmed by Frostyflakes & candlelight in a deserted old gothic castle.
Cleverbritches crocheted this beaded Frostyflakes with two skeins of Bamboo Green Lotus yarn!

 
Links I Enjoyed This Week
Crochet designer Sue Perez has some amazing posts at her blog Mr. Micawber's Recipe for Happiness. I found this one by accident. http://bit.ly/1dK6YmX

M.K. Carroll reviewed Lotus Yarn for Knit Edge magazine! She said a lot of great things about it, including
"It has just enough body to hold lace stitches clearly while being soft enough to drape beautifully."

Like Crochet Inspirations #59: Star Stitch, the Tunisian Connection on Facebook
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Subscribe to this newsletter. Vashti Braha is a professional crochet designer & teacher who resides in Florida (USA). She writes 100% of each issue and emails it to subscribers
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