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.
I’m ready to commit to one of these five swatches for a Jane Austen-y lace pullover. My new Zegue-Along online class starts in a few weeks. This blog post will give you initial information in case you want to make something like this in class. My goal is a beautiful, uplifting springtime layer–a roomy pullover–that might even make a great Mother’s Day gift, or bridal accessory.
These 5 swatches test many things like yarn twist, fiber content, crochet hook size, and a stitch variation. The two leftmost swatches are my Lotus yarn with a 5 mm (H) crochet hook and a 5.5 mm (I) hook. Top right: J.P.Coats Royale and an H hook. The other two are Euroflax linen with a 4.5 mm (G7) hook and an H hook.
I’ll get to these in a bit.
First, my “pullover” plans.
Basic Lace Pullover Shape
Most of all, I want long sleeves of this lace. Kind of roomy but not as much as a kimono. Long sleeves are a commitment! And, I’d like to use only simple shapes—no shaping, just a few rectangles—but I might need to do a bit of tapering to avoid kimono sleeves.
I’l be crocheting from the top down instead of bottom up (or possibly from side-to-side), because I want the option to stop at a cropped length. This way I could wear it during class and then add length later.
What About the Head Opening? Neckline?
I like wearing V-necks, and boatnecks if modified slightly. Both are great for a lace pullover. This lace will be easy to steek! This means it’s “self-healing” if you cut it. So I have a nice option of just crocheting big rectangles, then cutting a head opening later!
If I crochet the rows horizontally, a steeked neckline would be a boatneck type. If crocheted side-to-side, the rows would run vertically, and a steeked head opening would result in a V neckline.
All of these things help bring the construction method into focus.
I used the same Zegue variation for all five swatches. Instead of extended Tunisian knit stitch (“Teks”), I used a twisted Tunisian extended stitch (“TwTes”). I’ll demonstrate how to crochet both of these in class, and more.
The three yarns I tested are considered sport weight. I used hook sizes ranging from 4.5mm to 5.5mm because this is Tunisian crochet. A crochet hook size of 3.5 (E), 3.75 (F), or 4.0 (G6) with sport weight is more typical for regard crochet.
Twist and Spin
Three kinds of twist are going on in these swatches! The yarn is twisted, the crocheter adds some twist, and the stitch loops are twisted. So, I tested this pattern with yarns spun in both directions. You can see the texture differences in the close up photos.
I crochet right handed, so I automatically add a little counter-clockwise or “Z”-twist to the yarn as I go. Crocheting left handed does the opposite: adds a bit of clockwise “S”-twist to a yarn. The twisted-loop Tunisian stitch I used adds “S” twist. A leftie would twist the loop in a “Z” direction. It’s a lot of twisting. Or, untwisting.
Please bear with me, I just have to get this out of the way: yarns with two or more plies twisted together also tend to start off with twist in the opposite direction, but this doesn’t concern us here. The Lotus and Royale yarns have S-twisted plies that are then twisted together in a Z direction. This is called its “final twist”. For this project I’m only concerned with a yarn’s final twist direction.
Yarns vary not only in their twist direction, but also in how much twist. A yarn with a lot of twist is said to have a “hard twist”. The Euroflax yarn is a good example of a “soft twisted” yarn.
The Lacy Verdict
I started out hoping I would love the Euroflax. I’ve had 1600 yds of it waiting in my yarn stash since 2007! Still waiting for the perfect project for it, I guess. I love linen and I only want to use it if the project shows it off. Here, though, it looks old and stringy.
Until I tried a 5.5 mm hook with the Lotus, I preferred the Royale. The surface texture looks rich and fascinating in person (in photos the surface texture tends to look flat). It has enough twist to stay twisted even with all the S-twisted stitch loops. The ropy look gives a slight nautical and casual effect compared with the fine-grained sheen of the 12-ply Lotus.
If you can pick out the return pass chains in the Euroflax swatch, you might see that my Z-twist crocheting of them has canceled out almost all of what little S-twist the yarn has. Then see how the forward pass stitches with their S-twisted loops preserve the yarn’s S-twist better.
Lace Pullover: Next Steps
Measure the rows and stitch repeats per inch of the Lotus swatch I did with the 5.5 mm crochet hook.
Decide the finished length and width I want of the sleeves.
Decide if I’m crocheting the rows from sleeve cuffs to cuff, or widthwise. I’m leaning toward two widthwise sleeve pieces for a v-neck result like this top (except with longer sleeves).
My working name for it is Clarenzeg (link goes to its Ravelry project page). I can’t wait to start!
For this project class I’ll be posting some tips, like the two swatches below, to help you choose your yarns, color/texture combinations, and crochet hook size for the kind of project you want to make.
This is no ordinary stitch pattern! I’ve just sent out a crochet newsletter (issue #105) about it. So, along the way I’ll be including some crochet theory and construction method aids. Bookmark this page and check back.
Like the Zegue Wrap is a riff on the Ziggy Vest, the name Zegue is my riff on the name Ziggy. Both refer to the zig-zaggy ripple stitch pattern I used for both and which was a unique look for Tunisian Crochet. (Maybe still is, in its lacy way?) I pronounce Zegue zeg.
It’s a Self-Healing & Reversible Yarn Blender.
Zegue is self-healing when cut. In fact, Zegue is a great first-time experience with cutting crochet stitches. If you’ve recently taken Self Healing Stitches you’ve experienced the empowering freedom of this.
It also has extended stitches in both the forward and return passes. Extending Tunisian adds easy laciness, stretch, and shaping (such as the shells and clusters you might be able to see here). It’s even reversible enough that if you choose to use a double-ended crochet hook, you’ll get the same look with different color options!
Easily blend yarns of different weights and textures. The odd balls in your yarn stash will likely look their best in Zegue stitches.
The difference between these two chunky Zegue swatches is when you change color. For the upper swatch, I changed color at the start of a new forward pass. For the lower one, I changed color to begin each new return pass. You can tell by looking at where the beginning yarn end is when each color was first attached.
The upper one has a spike-stitch look because the new forward pass covers a return pass of a different color. I personally prefer the lower one because my eye travels smoothly along the wave pattern.
The Class Resources
Designs & Patterns
Zegue: in Ravelry (it’s a variation of Ziggy Vest, see #3 below)
Great steeking experiences with these patterns that use the main stitch in Zegue: Mesmer Veilspattern. Smokestackpattern.
Zegue Swatches, Zegue Tests
Flickr photo album for this class. This is a great place to see class material at full resolution, and to see an array of new pattern variations. Zegue itself is a fun variation of the Ziggy Vest. I love scrolling through stitch albums. I’m continually creating swatches and photos to add to this album.
Still need to register for this class? Register with CGOA. This is a NEW two-hour class held online over two days: Wednesday, April 27 & Thursday April 28, 2022 at 11:00am – 12:00pm Central Time. Registration closes 4/24/22 or when the class is filled.
A NEW class for 2022. This is a three-hour class that was held online for CGOA over two days: Tuesday February 1 and Wednesday February 2, 2022.
Extended Tunisian stitches bring new textures and flexibility to Tunisian Crochet, sometimes dramatically! With less yarn, and so little effort too. I’ve been exploring extended versions of standard Tunisian stitches for many years. Scroll down to see the Extended Tunisian Stitch Design Gallery.
Here’s why I do it:
Make quick progress on a big project, or with very fine yarn. Each row is taller.
Get more mileage out of a small pricy skein. An extended Tunisian fabric weighs less because extended stitches are a bit thinner.
It’s easy to add shells and other groups of increases wherever you like. This is not true of the most common non-extended stitches–unless you start the stitch with a yarn over, such as a Tunisian double crochet, which is a bit bulkier.
Do fine gradations of stitch heights: get the perfect row gauge as well as the stitch gauge stated in a crochet pattern. Make sloping rows for cool color effects. These are options we take for granted with regular crochet.
Many of these stitches are self-healing, meaning if you cut (“steek”) them later to make armholes or a head opening they will form their own safely bound off edge.
New mosaic–overlay–intermeshed types of colorwork with Tunisian get a boost from extended stitches. See my recent Embossed Stars post.
Makes Great Fabrics!
Eliminate the “Tunisian curl”–that annoying thing that happens when the edges of your work roll up while you’re crocheting more rows onto it. Crocheting lace avoids this curling, but extended Tunisian stitches work for dense, non-lacy patterns too.
Clothing fits comfortably. Extended Tunisian fabric has more flex, more drape, more stretch. Really thermal yarns, like mohair, alpaca, and Angora have room to expand and breathe.
Flickr photo album for this class. This is a great way to see class material at full resolution, and to see an array of new stitch patterns. I love scrolling through my stitch albums. I’m continually creating swatches and photos to add to this album so check it again!