Starwirbel: Spiraling Star Stitch Lace by Vashti Braha
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Starwirbel: Spiraling Star Stitch Lace

Crochet
March 2014
Lace ?
2 stitches and 2 rows = 1 inch
in Star stitch in the round, no turning
130 - 200 yards (119 - 183 m)
Cowl version and Capelet version; see Notes for finished dimensions.
This pattern is available for $6.99 USD
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Two updates:

1. I taught a class called The Starwirbel Way in Charleston SC at the national CGOA conference (July 2016). The class resource page is here.

2. If you have trouble locating a 11.5 mm crochet hook in your country, a 12 mm should work just as well. For some lace weight yarns, a 10 mm might be better, so try a swatch. (You never know with lace weight yarns, especially if they contain some mohair.)

A photo tutorial PDF is bundled with this pattern. It includes images for lefties too.

I’m delighted to share my discovery of a special type of 19th century Star stitch in the form of this veil-like “smoke ring.” Unlike the usual Star stitch projects, Starwirbel is stretchy and weightless, yet holds its shape. I’ve enhanced its starry texture with a spiraling construction, twinkly yarn, and a bit of invisible increasing.

Emphasizing the “eyes” of these orbiting stars adds a special effect. I’ve streamlined the look of the “spokes” radiating from them to brighten the eyes even more. An emphasis on the eyes that makes crocheting this project fast and easy: the eyes show you where to put your hook.

It’s quick to finish for other reasons too. The loops are large, and you crochet in a continuous spiral (no joining of rounds and no turning; wirbel is German for whirl). I could finish one in an evening.

Not only is this Star stitch version pretty much reversible, it feels weightless and for good reason: I had yarn left over from a small 25 gram ball. This means the cowl weighs in at less than an ounce, requiring less than 136 yards (124 m). The capelet used only about 200 yds (183 m).

By 1891, Star stitches were already popular for baby sacques, blankets, hats, and coats. In wool yarns and tight gauges, the dense starry “spokes” create a sweet padded fabric still loved today. A decade or two before they went in the thermal direction, lacy Star stitches were crocheted with fine wool yarns and big hooks in reversible rows for ladies: veil-like “fascinators”…sort of like Starwirbel.

Skill Level: Easy Intermediate. This is an easy Star stitch variation I tweaked specially for this design. What may be a challenge for some crocheters is making consistently loose stitches with a big crochet hook and superfine yarn.

I was inspired by Star stitches of the 1880’s, and think of my version as easier and a bit starrier). For example, the Stars always face the front; the enlarged eyes are easy to see and crochet into; the side loops of Stars are not used; and there is no joining of rounds.

While preparing to teach a class on Star stitches, I discovered a surprising range of variations. My goal is to design with them in ways that take advantage of the unique charms of each Star type. Please see issue #59 of my newsletter for more.

After using this pattern, you will know (if you didn’t already):

  • How to crochet a Star stitch pattern in a historic manner and understand its texture.
  • How to heighten the best qualities of this Star stitch.
  • How to crochet Star stitches in a spiral (no joining of rounds and no turning).
  • How to increase Star stitches invisibly.
  • How to crochet a consistently loose stitch gauge with a superfine yarn.

I’ve written this pattern with few abbreviations. UK and Australian equivalents for American measurements, yarn weights, and stitch terms are in brackets { }.

Finished Dimensions measured flat.
Cowl: Circumference of head opening: 21” {53.34 cm}; widens at shoulder to 30” {76.2 cm} (stretches to approx. 40” {101.6 cm}). Length with folded collar: 15” {38 cm}.
Capelet: Circumference of head opening: 28” {71.12 cm}; widens at shoulder to 54” {137.16 cm} (stretches to approx. 68” {172.72 cm}). Length: 16” {40.64 cm}.

Crochet Hook: Sizes US O/15 {11.5 mm} and US L/11 {8 mm} or sizes required for gauge. The smaller crochet hook is used for the edging only.

To substitute a different yarn of the same thickness: Mohair-textured yarns come in a dizzying array of thicknesses that can look equivalent until they are crocheted! Choose a #0 Lace weight {UK & AUS 1 or 2 Ply} yarn. Note that this category of yarn encompasses a range of superfine yarns. Try one that lists a knitting needle range of 4 mm - 5.5 mm.