I thought I should say that I DID master the MS(3)/P3 Star Stitch just in case somebody else searches the forum if they are having difficulty looking for a tip. All of the advice helped, you guys kept me from getting frustrated enough to give up. Even just reading that it is hard for everyone, not an easy stitch even for more advanced knitters, helped tremendously because I had read the instructions, I had watched so many videos, and I really started to think that the problem was me, either because I am not a very skilled knitter or that it was just too advanced for me at that time - I do think it was perhaps just a little beyond my skill level, but not by too much. Being able to master this stitch means that I can likely move on to the Lotus Stitch, which is very similar.
I’m going to break it down so it is ridiculously simple, just in case someone else is getting frustrated or just inexperienced like I was. Detail helps me learn, so I hope this might be of use to someone who might be struggling like I was.
I used 3 needles: a pair of US11 straight needles, and a single US2 double-pointed-needle.
I thought this was a very complex and hard stitch, it is definitely not for beginners (not sure if I am an Advanced Beginner or Intermediate), especially when you don’t knit on straight needles very often.
In fact, I would recommend using Circular Needles, using them just like straights with the right and wrong side, because it is very easy to lose the stitches, especially if you are doing it the way I did. Put a marker between the finished and working stitches and just knit like you would with straights, don’t join them or use the circular method because I think (could be wrong) that the “wrong side” in circular knitting is not the same. If I had US11 circulars I would transfer or start over with them just because of how many times I have dropped stitches.
What I ended up doing was using straight needles to knit as I normally would for the P stitches and the K rows, but whenever I had to MS (make star) I used a much smaller DPN to pull the working yarn through both of the P3tog parts (P3TOG, YO, P3TOG) of the stitch, and from there I would slide the completed stitch onto the right needle.
So, I am using 3 needles by swapping the DPN and the straight, working needle on the right.
I did not leave any stitches on the DPN, I transferred these stitches one by one as I followed the 3 steps to make ‘one’ MS, so as not to lose or twist anything, to maintain tension, and to keep it from looking too tight or too loose, especially with YOs. You can sometimes get away with a few sloppy stitches in your work, but with this particular stitch consistency is essential, or else it will look nothing like a completed Star Stitch in your work, OR you will have different tightness and sizes of completed Star Stitches, which throws off the entire project as it works out to look like a diagonal line of Star Stitches in this particular pattern.
Using the DPN for this stitch also allowed to me pull larger loops through without stretching my completed work, which helped a lot with maintaining tension between steps and stitches. I think that a crochet hook would work quite well, but I did not have one small enough and my bulky yarn is this gorgeous cottony softness with no visible fibers, and even with a DPNs it was not as durable and easy to pull the yarn apart. It is beautiful when it is intact, like silky cotton candy, but if you pull at the fibers it gets fuzzy and wispy. I will try this again when I am using different yarn.
This is a pretty slow method, and I might try using my straight needles alone after doing a few more rows with 3 needles just because I am much more comfortable with the stitch, but I would recommend giving this a shot if you just can’t do it no matter how hard you try, or even just if your hands feel clumsy and you are having issues with consistency.
It is not easy to knit back or even frog several rows when you are not familiar with this stitch, or what it should look like on your needles, and on top of that the effects of the Star Stitch are not all that visible until you are a few rows in to the work, so it is much easier to see your work when you are several rows in. When you cannot see the effect of the stitch at the beginning it is that much harder to recognize and/or correct mistakes OR successful stitches, and in order to learn you need to know you did it the right way and continue doing it that way. This is true of any stitch, but even when you are teaching yourself to K or P or YO and etc. you can usually see whether or not you managed to do it correctly immediately, right on the needle, because you know what that stitch should look like (ie. You know you have done a Purl Stitch correctly in a single stitch because of the Purl Bump). You cannot see the effects of the Star Stitch at the beginning and that makes it harder to learn, and obviously we have to do our learning at the beginning, which created a bit of a vicious cycle for me. I think it is important to know this before you try so you don’t waste time and yarn (and sanity!) for something you cannot make sense of, because this is not a matter of learning a single stitch, or figuring out a pattern, because a SINGLE Star Stitch has STEPS.
This is a beautiful and FUN stitch now that I have come close to mastering it, but I came very close to HATING it. For ME, I know that being constantly frustrated made it harder, slower, and it was starting to hate the stitch, and even though the method with 3 needles is slower than using 2 (assuming you have mastered the stitch), failing over and over using 2 needles was much slower than succeeding and becoming comfortable with the stitch using this roundabout technique with 3 needles. I had the same problem when I learned to Purl, it was IMPOSSIBLE until it was possible, if that makes sense; once I managed to do a few properly it became so, so much easier. Success boosts your confidence and makes it easier to keep going, and confidence is very important as far as star stitches are concerned.
One more piece of advice is to make sure you are using the best yarn for this stitch. I am using this pretty, cotton-candy soft yarn that is easy to catch or split, but it also has these tiny little ribbon loops woven into it and it is so, so pretty but having so much detail in the yarn takes away from the detail in the pattern a bit. I am still using it for this scarf because I was so excited to use it, but in the future I think I will try a less ornamented yarn; yarn with sequins or ribbons or whatever can really add to and transform a relatively simple pattern, but it can also distract you from seeing the detail and complexity of a pattern like this one. Considering how much work goes into a pattern like this, you do not want to detract from the IMPACT of the Star Stitch, which does not need to be dressed up or helped, it speaks for itself.