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  • Star Stitch Crochet Scarf with Love Knots


    Love Knot+Star Stitch Scarf: New Pattern!

    A star stitch crochet scarf with love knots? (About as common as a love knot scarf with star stitches.) So beautiful together!

    UPDATE: Lovelace pattern has been added to the Designingvashti Shop and to Ravelry.

    I’m calling it Lovelace Ring Scarf and the pattern is with the tech editor now. The first thing I’ll do when I add the pattern to my shop and to Ravelry is update the header of my shop, its Ravelry project page, and announce it on the DesigningVashti Facebook page.

    Why Star Stitches With Love Knots? The Story.

    I first swatched this in 2014 (see last photo above) for CGOA classes I would be teaching: A Star Stitch for Every Purpose (3 hours) and 21st Century Love Knot Adventures (3 hours). Back then I had to set it aside due to stitch compatibility problems. You might be able to see some in those initial swatches.

    Early in 2016, 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. By the fall I was finishing up a series of seven crochet tutorials I agreed to do for the Cut Out & Keep site (site owner has not added them as of today).

    After the US election I appreciated the sweet, loving patterns crochet and knit designers were spontaneously posting. My 2014 attempts to blend stars and love knots in one pattern came to mind. It lifted my spirits to polish it up into a fun, versatile, balanced, harmonious stitch pattern, with the idea it might also lift others’ spirits.

    The free stitch pattern will be available soon; I’ll announce it everywhere when I hear from the Cut Out & Keep folks. I used it to make a 6.5″ square block with DK weight yarn and a G7/4.5 mm hook. It’s pictured above (without its single crochet border all around): the middle photo in the top row. The border would probably turn it into a 7″ block.

    The Lovelace design happened next because I needed a self-edging version. It came to me while I was getting over a flu-like cold during Thanksgiving (what a season this has been!). 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 edging 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 balance of the texture and widen it for a lush, romantic ring scarf. This is how Lovelace came to be.

    Is a Love Knot-Star Stitch Crochet Scarf…Challenging?

    These 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 beginner stitches form a balanced backdrop to the fancy stitches. Like peace-keeping 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.

    Similarities and Differences Between Stars and Love Knots are Dramatic!

    I don’t recall ever seeing these two unique stitches combined in one stitch pattern.

    1. Differences

    All of these differences affect what it’s like to get them to work well together in one stitch pattern.

    • 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. LK can be added anywhere just like a chain stitch (because it’s a type of foundation stitch), and each one is distinct, complete, and recognizable from a distance. Stars require context: the stitch just before it, after it, and often above it determine how recognizable it is! 
    • Love knots likely originated as a southern lace, stars as a northern thermal fabric. LK were almost always crocheted in very fine cotton and silk threads for delicate, summery, fanciful 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“.)

    2. Similarities

    • Both LK and stars are romantic, iconic, classic/old-fashioned, popular, and beloved.
    • Both originated in 1800’s.
    • Both have long been favored for baby things. (Stars: baby blankets and coats; LK: saques, bonnets, layette edgings.)
    • Both can be lacy. When star sts are lacy, you’re looking at pulled loops, just like with LK.
    • Both start the same odd, non-intuitive way. I did a newsletter issue on it: “Starting a Stitch with a Backtrack“.

     

    How to be the first to know when Lovelace the Star Stitch Crochet Scarf (or any new pattern) is published:

    Or, be the second to know by subscribing to my newsletter and opening the email the moment you get it 🙂

    [Feels good to blog again. Remember my “50 posts in 50 days” challenge back in June? I sort of miss it!]

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    • December 8th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Project Tests for New Crochet Classes


    I’m still testing new crochet designs…

    …for the five classes I teach next month! This started months ago. It never stops, actually.

    I have other new crochet ideas in progress for this year’s classes too. For Tunisian Eyelet Meshes I have a draping collapsible “Leanin’ Loopholes” wrap to finally start when the new Lotus colors arrive. Another project in motion for the Stitch Games class is an argyle (only a few rows done, no photos yet).

    When CGOA puts out a call for class topic proposals in the fall, I submit more than enough: all the topics that I’ve enjoyed teaching in the past, plus interesting variations on them, plus new ones. Designing new crochet examples starts the moment I find out which ones I’ll be teaching. (Not on purpose, it just happens.)

    Meanwhile

    Meanwhile I stand ready (with camera) to receive a giant new lot of Lotus yarn. Can’t wait to get my hands on the new colors. Doris has her designing cones already so I know UPS will be here any day. Once the yarn arrives–on giant cones–I get some of it turned into Z-Bombes (1-pounders). A bit of it becomes Magnum cones (2-pounders). A lot of it will be “pull cakesASAP.

    I also stand ready to design with it. I’ll need some new crochet for the road trip up to the conference, right? Doris got started immediately with a new design in emerald green. This reminds me that I also need to lock in the new color names for the ball bands and snip cards.

    I’m on Day 35 of my 50 blogging days of crochet conference prep and I’m feeling behind! I still need to get some crochet patterns reformatted into print versions (for some of my classes and for kits in the market booth).

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    • June 23rd, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Starwirbel Class Resources (Spiraling Star Stitches)


    Clickable resources for my 2016 Starwirbel class (How to Shape Spiraling Star Stitches). Includes patterns for designs shown, and inspiration for new projects and variations. Also articles & books recommended in class. Click an image to enlarge it.

    Note: sorry, this class SOLD OUT in April, but keep checking back at the registration page. Sometimes a space opens up. 

    Crochet Patterns & Crochet Alongs:

    Recommended Issues of Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter:

    Starwirbel Class, Blogged:

    Inspiration Boards for this Class

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    • June 3rd, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Shaped Star Stitch Class Swatch


    Happy Memorial Day.

    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.

    Thank you.

    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!”

    Here’s a different view of the swatch:

    Star Stitch Class Swatch: Shaping a Spiral

    Would you believe the yarn I used is white?

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    • May 30th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    When a Crochet Class Handout Clicks


    It Happened This Morning.

    When a crochet class handout “clicks” it’s like getting a crystal-clear vision of how the class will begin and then smoothly unfold for its 3 hours. It becomes a map for the teacher too, and then I can relax. It’s such a distinct feeling that I actually tell my husband, “The _ class handout clicked into place!”

    I’d forgotten about the phenomenon until it happened today with The Starwirbel Way class, so I’ll blog it here for my future self. I wonder if other teachers experience something similar.

    A crochet class handout needs to satisfy so many requirements.

    It needs to make a good first impression in that first five minutes of the class. Inspiring, different, welcoming; generous margins, no big blocks of text, and the font can’t be too small. (It can’t be sparse or simplistic though.)

    This year I’m adding a few initial sentences that describe how to get a head start while waiting for the class to begin. People come to crochet classes with a dramatic range of skill levels; some like to explore the topic independently, and some like to arrive early. Many people also bring a range of different yarns, and need to try a few before they can settle in with one. Most people need to warm up with a row or two of a familiar stitch.

    A crochet class handout is an extension of me that stays with every student while I’m helping someone else on the other side of the room. If someone were to ask a question that requires a demo, and four other people say they wonder the same thing, I’d love to be able to answer, “Look closely at the photo on page 2 of your handout, and try it out while I come around to each of you individually.” So my top priority is for a handout to help me while I’m helping other students.

    Crochet class handouts can’t do some things.

    Hands-on skills like crochet need some side-by-side demonstrating. Each bit of key information in a crochet class usually needs to be shown different ways. It’s great when a close up photo or diagram in a handout can save time or prevent confusion about a key step. Sometimes it’s a motion that can be demonstrated in front of the room with a gigantic hook and yarn; often it’s best shown up close to just a few people at a time. This is why people travel to take crochet classes in person. Nothing beats it, not even videos, sometimes.

    Over the years I’ve developed a sense for which things can be nailed with a demo, diagram, swatch, or a close up of stitches done in contrasting colors. Sometimes using an overhead projector and drawing on transparencies is just the thing.

    Handy Table of Symbols for a Crochet Class Handout

    Table of love knot symbol variations. Created for the 21st Cen. Love Knot Adventures Class handout.

    Like some images, certain kinds of text are best in a handout. Row-by-row instructions for a practice swatch: a perfect use of a handout. Also good is a list that summarizes and distills many details. This morning I created a sidebar of all the ways to make star stitches starrier, and bolded the ones used for Starwirbel. Above is a table of love knot symbols used in different countries that I include in the  21st Century Love Knot Adventures class handout.

    What makes a crochet class handout “click” is a bigger topic than I expected! I’ve left out so much. Creating handouts is an evolving skill. Turns out others have blogged about this too.

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    • May 26th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Foundation Star Stitch Love!


    Foundation Star Stitch!

    Because why crochet stars into foundation chains when you could start with a supple starry foundation?

    This swatch satisfies two of my wishes for The Starwirbel Way: Shaping and Spiraling Star Stitches class. I’ve been dreaming of adding a foundation star stitch to the cool foundation stitch category, and I really like how this one came out. It’s flexible and stretchy with a balanced structure, like a good foundation stitch.

    I abbreviate it Fstar in keeping with how other crochet foundation stitches tend to be abbreviated in patterns.

    The Starwirbel design could be started with the foundation star, but it’s not part of pattern or the class description, so it’s an extra feature. (I’ll be happy to demonstrate how to do it in class if anyone asks.)

    My other wish was to try a new yarn or two for the design. Schulana Kid-Paillettes is the stunning yarn I used a few years ago for Starwirbel. I found no close substitutes for it back then. I’m excited about the one shown here: Alchemy Yarns’ Tweedy. The way it’s hand dyed gives this foundation star stitch a fiery look! One of the strands that shows up well in the photo is silk raffia. The play of light is unique.

    I also found another special yarn that I’m waiting to swatch: Mohair Luxe Paillettes by Lang.

    These are just wishes–not critical requirements to be ready to teach this topic, but crossing these off the wish list makes me happy. And now I’m off to tell my friend Marty Miller, goddess of foundation stitches!

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    • May 22nd, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Crochet Star Stitch How-To, an All-Purpose Guide


    A Crochet Star Stitch How To: Because I Discovered That I Haven’t Already Blogged This.

    I’ve used plain cotton yarn for these step-outs, and a crochet hook that is a bit larger than normal for the yarn so that it’s easy to see each individual loop. A row of blue double crochet stitches provides a familiar-looking base to crochet into.

    Want to follow along with hook and 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. I did this part in blue yarn. To chain 3 and turn I changed to white yarn.

    Star Stitch How To Steps 1 to 3

    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.
    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.

    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. Below, 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.

    Star Stitch How To Steps 4 and 5

    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.

    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.

    Star Stitch How To Steps 6 and 7ab

    #6: More colored dots! The white dot represents pulling up a loop in the eye; the yellow and two pink dots are the same as in image #4. 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.

    And now we come to those Star Stitch How-To colored dots.

    The two most important places to pull up loops while making star stitches are the eye (the white dot), 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 don’t always have to have 5 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. Or include both.

    You may have a favorite way to make your star stitches. Most likely you can substitute the star you prefer in a pattern you’re using…but of course swatch to make sure. (Occasionally the stitch or row gauge will change slightly.) It reminds me of 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. 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.

    Want more Star Stitches?

    I’ve written three newsletters about star stitches over the years: Star Stitch Lace Pretties, Star Stitch the Tunisian Connection, and yesterday’s Shaping Star Stitches. 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 for you.

    Star Stitch Patterns by Vashti Braha, 2013-2015

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

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    • November 25th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    The Two Free Victorian Crochet Pattern Books I Love!


    Of course, ALL free Victorian crochet pattern books are lovable. After I researched crochet stitches for my classes, though, I keep these two close by and bookmarked. Both of these antique crochet books were published in 1891. (Click each image for the free download information and link.)

    Last year I searched in literally hundreds of crochet books and booklets. I love researching crochet. Lots of antique, public domain crochet sources are keepers. Perhaps these two stand out in particular because of the specific stitches I was looking for.

    • The Art of Crocheting. By Butterick Publishing Co., Ltd., 1891 (London and New York).
    • Home Work, A Choice Collection of Useful Designs for the Crochet and Knitting Needle… By A. M., Rose Publishing Co. Ltd. (Toronto).

    I recorded all occurrences of star stitches, love knots (“knot stitches” to the Victorians), and lacy Tunisian crochet patterns. I was surprised to discover that in many of the publications ranging from the 1840’s to the 2010’s, these stitches often didn’t appear at all. These two 1891 gems were especially fun for creative star stitch patterns.

    Researching crochet stitches in free Victorian crochet pattern books offers lots of insight into crochet’s development. It’s fascinating to see how crochet is explained, illustrated, and promoted. Exciting, too! By 1891 the public demand for crochet patterns and stitch how-tos was very strong.

    Free Victorian crochet pattern books date from the 1840’s to shortly before World War I. Please support the Antique Pattern Library. It’s one of my favorite sources for some obscure early indie crochet designer booklets too. I hope you will help their cause by donating scans or funds.

    The Home Work book was the focus of an ambitious crochet pattern project by the Cyber Chapter of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). Members crocheted actual swatches and projects from the book. The exhibit of them at CGOA’s annual Chain Link conference was a highlight of the event!

    Also see my Antique Crochet Stunners board in Pinterest.

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    • October 18th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Crochet Mobius Cowl Wearing Styles


    Simply add a mobius twist to an infinity scarf to multiply the ways it drapes.

    A crochet mobius cowl pattern adds an easy mobius twist to a crochet infinity scarf (a.k.a. long loop scarf). This instantly increases the stylish ways to wear it!

    Have a look at this image I created for the downloadable Starlooper Mobius Cowl crochet pattern. It’s a new design that I added to the shop yesterday. This montage of NINE images means I don’t have to pick just ONE wearing style to display.

    Starlooper Crochet Cowl Scarf: Directory of Styles (montage)

    If you had to pick only ONE of these nine images, which would it be?

    I love a good crochet mobius cowl pattern because it flatters the face and neck effortlessly, no matter how it settles on the shoulders. Plus, of course, they offer easy warmth. (Click here to see an early newsletter issue I wrote called “A Fever for Crocheting Cowls” LOL!)

    For Starlooper I used a special kind of crochet star stitch pattern. It’s naturally a bit offset, reversible, and has accordion-like pleats. It’s also fast, soft, and warm for fall. (Click here to see many more star stitches!)

    I’ve been learning ways to create draping montages like this image for years. Want to see earlier ones? Click here for Shakti Scarfythings and here for Undaria.

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    • September 27th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    I Wore Starwirbel as a Ponytail Lace Veil


    I’ve been waiting for photos to surface from this summer’s CGOA’s Chain Link crochet conference (end of July in Manchester NH). Here’s the only one I have from the night I wore a crochet lace funnel cowl as a short veil covering my ponytail! You can barely see it in the first photo. In the second photo is Starwirbel – the flaring star stitch spiral of fine sequined mohair and silk.

    It was fun and judging from the comments I received, it worked! I wouldn’t have thought of pinning a lace capelet as a veil-like hairpiece, but I was dressed in mostly black with some paisley and a sparkly silver belt. I wanted to include Starwirbel, but not as a cowl…and…voilà: un voile!

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    • September 19th, 2014 by Vashti Braha


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