Knitted Cornrows / Continuous Star Stitch: A Tutorial

Let me begin this tutorial by saying: this may not be and likely is not an original idea. My searches for something similar yeilded no results, though, so I thought I might be the one to write it up. I’ve meant to post this draft since March, but kept putting it off. Now that I have a forthcoming pattern that makes use of the technique, I thought it would be proper to have it up as a reference.

If you know what a star stitch is, you’re already a step ahead. In fact, you’re pretty much all the way there. If want to see it in action, Vickie Howell has a great youtube video that makes it pretty clear. The star stitch is really a combination of two techniques. One is the central double increase (k1 leaving the worked stitch on the left needle, yo, k1 again into the same stitch) and the k3tog. To write them together would look like this: k3tog leaving the worked 3 stitches on the left needle, yo, k3tog again into same 3 stitches.

In traditional star stitch, abbreviated as MS, you perform the stitch on the right side of the work and then work all stitches even on the wrong side. On the following right side row, the MS is performed at a different spot, which when done for a few rows right will produce a tight, syncopated pattern that actually resembles stars. It’s a nice effect. Because the decrease is always paired with an equal increase, the expanded number of stitches is the base stitch count for any pattern that uses the stitch. That’s where I tweaked it a little. I’ve tried to keep it fairly simple, but I also want to be descriptive enough for you to get it. Once you’ve got it down, it’s really easy to do.

You start with a set-up row where only central double increases are worked, no k3togs. On the next and every following row you MS using the 3 stitches that were part of the increase in the row previous. If you MS on every single row and do so directly above the previous MS, the result is a vertical column of star stitches that are never given a wrong-side row to expand. The increased stitches are gathered up again on the very next row, and you get these nice ridges of three-stitch sandwiches.

This technique does come with a caveat: it can only be worked in the round. I’ve tried it in flatwork, but since you come at the p3tog from the other side it makes the ridge look inconsistent. Maybe it’s just me, though. Don’t let it stop you from trying to make it work for you! The whole thing arose from basically abusing a stitch pattern, so maybe you’ll just end up with a new technique yourself.

Also, sorry for the lack of photos. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Vickie’s video was more helpful for a visual, so why bother confusing you? If you want to see what the properly knitted result looks like, turn your eye to one of my earliest posts. Please note that those were very unrefined days as far as photo quality went. Also, each time I worked the MS, I cabled the stitch preceding it over to the left, so the MS ridges are slanted. But whether slanted or straight, they should be three-dimensional like that.

I hope I didn’t confuse you too much. Just do a star stitch every single row (or round, rather) in the same place. I can’t stress enough how simple it can be once you’ve done it a couple of times. I also can’t stress enough how important it is to knit LOOSELY. You will have hand cramps otherwise.

Let me know if it works out for you! I’ve got a pattern to go write.

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