Starwirbel: Spiraling Cowl & Capelet in Star Stitch Crochet

Starwirbel: Spiraling Cowl & Capelet in Star Stitch Crochet
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  • Item #: 0-N30114
  • Manufacturer: Vashti Braha

Includes link to a photo tutorial! [Note: an earlier name for this design was "Starstrudel."]

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 to the special effects. I've streamlined the look of the "spokes" radiating from them to brighten the eyes even more. It's also an emphasis on the eyes that makes crocheting this project fast and easy: the eyes show you where to put your hook.

It's a quick crochet cowl to finish for other reasons too. The loops are large, and you crochet capelet or cowl 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 pretty much a reversibel Star stitch for a change, it feels weightless and for good reason: I had yarn left over from a small 25 gram ball. This lace cowl weighs in at less than an ounce, requiring less than 136 yards (124 m). The lacy capelet used only about 200 yds (183 m).

By 1891, Star stitches were already popular for baby blankets, sacques, 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, Star stitches were crocheted with lace weight wool yarns and big hooks in reversible rows to make veil-like "fascinators"...sort of like Starwirbel

Skill Level: Easy Intermediate. This is an easy Star stitch variation I developed 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 the earliest instances of Star stitches I've found (1881-1891). I think of my version as an easier (and starrier) type of Star to crochet for several reasons: 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. (Wirbel is German for whirl, which is what it feels like to crochet these airy spiraling Stars.)

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 the (forthcoming) issue #59 of my newsletter for more.

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

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.

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}.

Materials 

  • Crochet Hook: Sizes US O/15 {11.5 mm or 12 mm} and US L/11 {8 mm} or sizes required for gauge. The smaller crochet hook is used for the edging only. 
  • Stitch markers: one for each invisible increase: 6 (Cowl), 11 (Capelet).
  • Yarn Used: Schulana Kid-Paillettes (42% kid mohair, 40% polyester, 18% silk; 136yd/125m per 0.875oz/25g): 1 (2) skein(s) of color #320 (dove gray with silver sequins).

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. 

  • Special Technique: Star Stitches
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