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How to make a star

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been working on some smaller projects. In particular, what I’ve been working on are some little stuffed stars, using leftovers from my Willow Cowls. It started out as just a little “doodle” with yarns to test out an idea, and then I got hooked! I’m currently in the brief lull between the last day of classes (which was yesterday, for me) and the day my students submit their Final Portfolios, so I actually have a little bit of time to write up what I’m doing when I make these! Here goes:

Getting ready: These don’t require a ton of yarn (I’m getting at least two stars from each color of Willow Cowl leftovers, and I’m pretty sure I had less than 100 yards leftover in each color). You’ll need SIX dpns, because the stitches are spread over 5 needles and the 6th is used for knitting. I think the instructions I’m giving below would work for just about any yarn on needles that give you a solid but not overly stiff gauge; for the fingering-weight yarns, I’m using size 2 needles. Oh, and you’ll need a bit of polyfill, too; I’m using leftovers from the bag I bought back when I made my daughter’s “Cat”.

Making a star, step 1: the i-cord

Step 1: Make the i-cord
Make 95 rounds of 3-stitch i-cord. The reason for 95 stitches is that you want a multiple of 5, but you also want the number you’re multiplying by 5 to be an ODD number. 95 = 19 x 5, which works well, but you could also do 105 = 21 x 5 or something even bigger. (I don’t recommend a smaller number than 95, though!)
TIP: it’s really easy to miscount and end up with more or fewer rounds in your i-cord, so my advice is to err on the side of too many. Too many is fudgeable; too few isn’t. You’ll see why in just a second.

Making a star, step 2: picking up stitches along the i-cord

Step 2: Pick up stitches from the i-cord
First, on the last round of the i-cord, bind off the first two stitches, and leave the remaining stitch on the needle. Then, knitting into one leg of each stitch in the i-cord, making sure to stay in the same “column”, pick up and knit 94 more stitches. Put 19 stitches on each of 5 dpns. If there’s extra i-cord after you’ve put 19 stitches on each needle, you have options:
1. If there are at least 10 extra rounds, you can shift things so that you have 21 stitches per needle instead of 19 stitches per needle.
2. You could also use the extra rounds to create a hanging loop (you’ll see an example of this later in the post).
3. Or, no matter how many extra rounds there are, you can simply tuck them into the inside of the star when it’s time to pick up side 2.

Making a star, step 3: 19 stitches on each of 5 needles, picked up from the i-cord

Step 3: arrange your 5 needles for knitting in the round
The next step is to join for knitting in the round. On each needle, you’ll do the following:
Round 1: *knit 8, CDD, knit 8* on each needle
Round 2: *knit 7, CDD, knit 7* on each needle
Round 3: *knit 6, CDD, knit 6* on each needle.
(Hopefully at this point, the logic is clear. Also, if you are using a larger number per needle, adjust the numbers so that the CDD ends up being the central three stitches on each needle; for example, if you cast on 105 stitches, you’d need 21 stitches on each needle and your first round would be *knit 9, CDD, knit 9*, and so on.)

Making a star, step 4: doing CDDs in the center of each needle on every round

Step 4: keep decreasing until you get down to 1 stitch per needle
Keep decreasing in the established pattern (knitting a CDD over the central 3 stitches on the needle) until you get down to 1 stitch per needle. Then, break the yarn, and thread it through the loops on the needle to pull it tight. At that point, you’ll have finished side 1!

Making a star, step 6: Picking up stitches from the i-cord for side 2

Step 5: pick up stitches for side 2
Here, starting at the edge of the i-cord where you picked up the first needle-worth of stitches on side 1, what you want is to pick up stitches from the i-cord from the legs of the column of stitches that will create a single line of knit stitches between the two sides. I find this kind of hard to explain in words, but I think it’s pretty obvious once you’re looking at it. I actually messed it up in the first “doodle” version of the star (shown in the photo above), but I made a little video of what I’m doing on a subsequent star that I hope helps:

The goal, as with side 1, is to pick up 19 stitches on each of the 5 needles for a total of 95 stitches, then join to knit in the round.

Making a star, step 7: making side 2 just like side 1

Step 6: make size 2 just like side 1
(Seriously, just look back at the Step 3 instructions!)

Making a star, step 8: adding filling

Step 7: stuff it!
Once you get to the point where you have 5 stitches on each needle (or even when you get to having just 3), stuff your star. You don’t want to OVER stuff it, but stuff it enough that the points of the star aren’t floppy. You’ll do the final rounds of decreasing on each needle with the stuffing inside the star.

Making a star, step 9: just about ready to thread the end through to close up!

Step 8: finish it!
When you get to the final round (1 stitch per needle), finish as on side 1: break the yarn, thread it through the loops, and pull tight. What I like to do is weave the yarn around the center of the star, almost “duplicate stitching” the non-CDD-column stitches, just to make sure that there’s no gappiness there. Then, I pull the yarn through the star, extra taut, and snip it, letting the end sink back into the star.

I’ve now created quite a collection of these little stars! They’re just a fun little diversion and it makes me happy to squeeze them.

Squishy stars!

I’ve got green ones…

Green stars (light green was the experiment/prototype)

And magenta ones…

Two magenta stars

And even a red one (made from leftovers from the Musselburgh hat that I knit for my daughter, which I’m realizing now has not made a blog appearance yet!):

Red star with loop

As you can see on the red one, I ended up with a LOT of extra i-cord (because a certain someone kept interrupting me while I was counting rounds!) so I turned it into a hanging loop. I think my daughter wants me to thread a cord through it so that she can wear it as necklace!

Handful of stars

These stars have been a fun little way to add a bit of “light” during these dark months at the end of a dark year. I hope these little stars bring you as much joy to knit and squeeze as they’ve brought me!

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