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!”
A Star Stitch For Every Purpose is the name of a sold out three-hour crochet class that I taught in July, 2014 at the 20th anniversary annual conference for the national crochet guild (CGOA). I researched over 200 sources from the 1840’s to the present. Class materials included a spiral-bound booklet of star stitches and a step by step how-to section.
Star Stitch: Visit These First
My Star Stitch Crochet Board in Pinterest. It was specially promoted by Pinterest admins earlier this year: “We think your board is amazing, and it really demonstrates what Pinterest is all about!”
The earliest example of star stitches I’ve found so far is in an 1881 issue of a Norwegian magazine. It’s remarkable to me how seldom star stitches have appeared in crochet books since 1881.
When star stitches do appear in a book or online, they can vary in ways both subtle and dramatic. It’s mainly because it’s a compound stitch. It multiplies the opportunities to vary each step along the way.
This is true not only when completing each star, but also when crocheting the next row into it, and what stitches are in that next row. For example, you can crochet stars into stars – with turning or without. You can alternate a row of stars with a row of, say, single crochet stitches. These simple choices change the look of the stitch, and the experience of crocheting them.
Key historical sources
1881: Nordisk Mønster-Tidende.
1886: Knitting and Crochet.
1891: The Art of Crocheting, by Butterick.
1891: Home Work, by A. M. (Toronto).
Late 1800’s: Weldons Practical Crochet, First Series (London).
1910: Fleisher’s Book #8.
I’ve been unable to locate a print copy of two Japanese “Star Crochet” books mentioned in class, but here is the ISBN for one of the volumes: 978-4-579-11323-1.
Tall Stitch Virtuosity is a new crochet class for 2020. I’ve discovered more than I imagined is possible about tall stitches! In fact, the official class graphic above is about six months old and already seems out of date.
Originally scheduled for the July 2020 Chain Link conference (an annual national event of the CGOA), Tall Stitch Virtuosity is now virtual. The traditional in-person conference is postponed until next summer. The virtual version is split into one-hour sessions over three consecutive days.
This is the first resource page I’ve created for a virtual class. At first I thought a virtual class wouldn’t need one. I started these pages back in 2012 to make online links easy to visit for an in-person event. I’m finding that I don’t want to load up the class handout (a PDF in this case) with what I think of as miscellany. Also, members might have a chance to visit this page over the three days of the class.
Jenny Guldin: “Most lists of the basic crochet stitches end with the triple crochet. Call it a new technique, or call it breaking the rules: I’m tired of being limited to the height of a triple crochet, and I’m not going to take it anymore! Why isn’t there a taller stitch? I’ve received varying answers from many crocheters, but I’ve never heard the suggestion “try it”. There are two basic points of view I’ve heard about the subject: It doesn’t exist, or, there’s no purpose for it. With all due respect, I have two responses: I’ve made it exist, and there is a purpose.”
CrochetSpot’s Amy Yarbrough: “These stitches are not very well known today because most modern crochet patterns do not use them. This begs the question, when are they used then? Perhaps the most I have seen these taller stitches used would be in patterns with crochet thread. Such as Irish Crochet Lace, crocheted Antebellum Dolls, and crocheted Doilies.”
Issue 102: Wild Whys of Y-Stitches
Crochet Inspirations Newsletter sent to 8,600 subscribers on June 13, 2020.
These semi-circles are crocheted of Y-shaped stitches. In each case I started with a quadruple-treble stitch (quad; in the UK and AUS I do believe it’s a quint). Yarn over 5x to begin one. After each completed quad I chained 2, then crocheted a shorter stitch into the side of the quad to turn it into a Y-stitch (Y-st).
I’m going to call the shorter stitch a branch that is crocheted into the taller one, or host stitch.
The Y-sts in these semi-circles vary from very deep (farthest left one) to very shallow (upper right). The longest branch, a triple treble (I yarned over 4x to begin it), is crocheted close to the base of its host quad. The shortest branch is a half double (hdc in the US, htr in UK/AUS). I crocheted it up close to the top of the quad.
Don’t you love how the lacy look changes just from this simple difference?
I also really love how Y-sts look when they radiate from a center. It’s what lured me down a rabbit hole of new delights.
Every stitch you see in this newsletter is my own new stuff.
Branched? “Rune” Stitches?
I searched 34 crochet books for these stitches (16 are stitch dictionaries and the rest are guides to crocheting). Of the 34, 14 at least mention X-stitches. Very few include Y’s and inverted Y’s, or really run with with any of them.
When I think of “Y-stitches” I picture a category of stitches that remind me of runes and ancient symbols!
The list above is about half of some old letters I’d like to try crocheting with branchy tall stitches. See my swatch of a few modern letters in Instagram. (These crazy B’s are for Braha and for Black, as in Black lives matter, and for Because of course they do.)
The first blue wheel above was inspired by ancient wedge-shaped cuneiform strokes. I see the green motifs as being Druidic wheels of seven “trees”. In fact, lately I see Y-stitches all over the place in nature!
My three favorite sources on these stitches: James Walters, Duplet magazines (Irene Duplet), and Sheruknitting videos (Elena Rugal). It’s not a stitch shape. It’s a way of thinking. Thank you so much James, Irene, and Elena!
I need to blog that. I have ideas for how to sort out the yarn overs, and make the most of them for motifs. Until then, I mention Y-stitches with a how-to link in my tall-stitch circles blog post. Also try some Sheruknitting videos.
Can you spot the Y-sts? And X-sts in the upper-right blue circle? Y’s are fabulous for reducing the number of tall stitches in round one AND for suavely doubling every stitch as required in round two.
Using tall stitches for circles is how I got here. I had no idea how practical and problem-solving Y-sts could be for crocheting circles—the taller, the better. They offer creative solutions and pretty options for tall-stitch circle crocheting!
OK One More Y-Why for Today:
Convert Two Rows into One
[This section got its own blog post a few weeks later; the light green swatch referred to is also pictured there.]
Sometimes, two or even three rows of a stitch pattern can be turned into one row, using using taller into-the-side stitches. Here’s a two-row shell-and-cluster stitch pattern (upper swatch) turned into one-row one lower swatch).
You can get more stitches to face the front this way. It also removes a “grid” effect caused by the connections between every stitch across a row. It fits in the “clever substitutions” category which is the topic of newsletter #92.
That grid effect adds structure to the fabric. Removing them adds more drape. So it depends on the yarn and project.
This clickable list of slip stitch crochet resources is mainly to aid students of my classes in exploring more about Slip Stitch Crochet at their leisure. (If you have not yet taken any of my slip stitch classes, I hope someday I’ll meet you in one of them!) You’re welcome to enjoy the links below whether you’ve taken the classes or not. They represent the extra information that doesn’t fit into a standard three-hour class. Some are the names of designers, books, other types of slip stitch crochet, etc., that I may have mentioned in a class.
Dee Stanziano’s “Pushmi-Pullyu“: Pushmi Pullyu: Coined by me (Dee Stanziano) in 2008, Pushmi Pullyu is the crochet technique of making crochet stitches forwards (Pushmi) and backwards (Pullyu) within the same row, or by alternating hands for each row without the need to turn work. This creates a unique look in the fabric, almost like Illusion Crochet. In 2011 Hazel Furst coined this as “Back to Front Crochet.”
Slip Stitch Crochet Books of Interest
Tanja Osswald’s Kettmaschen (in German)
Nancy Nehring’s Learn Slip Stitch Crochet and Slip Stitch Caps
Bendy Carter’s Knit 1 Purl 2 in Crochet.
Dora Ohrenstein’s designs and articles inInterweave Crochet magazine, Fall 2010 and Winter 2011 issues.
I swatched a fancy tall stitch pattern recently. It’s actually a section that I isolated from a larger all-over pattern in issue #187 of Duplet magazine (September 2016). Each of its nineteen rows is unique. This is a first-time-puzzling-through swatch, so please ignore the uppermost rows which need re-doing. I worked exclusively from the symbol diagram because I don’t know how to read Ukrainian or Russian.
I added turning chains and opted to link the first tall stitch to them. It’s easier to see this in the extreme close up further down. Also, the first row of very tall stitches (quadruple trebles) along the bottom is not in the Duplet pattern; I started off by testing very tall foundation stitches.
Tall Stitch Pattern Symbols
Something I love about symbols for very tall stitches is that the initial yarn overs required show as small lines crossing the long vertical line of the stitch post. You just count the wee hashes. Even nicer for UK and Australian crocheters, the number of them also tells you the name of the stitch. (American crocheters: just use the name for the next shorter stitch.)
Below is a sampling of Duplet’s symbols for the very tall stitches. Notice the four longest vertical lines at the far right edge, with five little hash marks: it means you yarn over five times to begin the stitch. These are quintuple trebles in the UK & AUS, or call them quadruple trebles in the US.
According to the symbols, crochet these four very tall stitches into four tall stitches that have only two hash marks: they are double trebles in UK/AUS or just trebles in US terminology.
An Upside Down Y-Stitch
See that symbol in the upper left that looks like an upside-down Y with hash marks ? See how its right leg stands over a sort of horizontal line? That line is some number of chains (4 in my swatch). The other leg skips some stitches that are mostly outside of the picture. This symbol means you begin with five yarn overs, then insert the crochet hook into a chain or the chain space. Work two of the five yarn overs off of your hook, as if to make a treble (UK/AUS dtr). Then, yarn over twice to begin the other leg of the stitch while the 3 unused yarn overs are still waiting on the hook. Work the treble of the other leg into another chain space, and then finish working the remaining 3 yarn overs off of the hook.
A variety of clusters and shell stitches flow into each other to give the crocheting an undulating feeling. It’s exciting to see it take shape, and it kept me on my toes. I’d do a few things differently if I swatch it again. Duplet and Zhurnal magazines offer many expressive patterns and innovative ways to use very tall stitches.
As Class Material
This particular tall stitch pattern is mainly research for me. It’s too involved for the Tall Stitch Virtuosity class, but of course I’ll bring the swatch and magazine with me. When there’s time in class we can take a closer look at examples like this.