I’d like to introduce you to Marla the Starfish.

I’ve made at least 4 previous versions of her over the past few years, in different colors and different sizes, but until recently, I’d never totally loved her. Although I’d invented her, and she was popular among my etsy customers, I always (secretly) kind of wondered what the point was of a stuffed animal that had no eyes. In these past few weeks though, I’ve begun to appreciate her a lot more. I realized that her simple, rhythmic beauty would be ruined with goofy eyes. Starfish don’t need to be anthropomorphized in order to be interesting to the human psyche, and I feel like Marla captures the essence of what is appealing about a real starfish: spiraling symmetry, variegated coloring, beauty.

Last week, I really focused on her construction. I wanted to edit the scrappy draft pattern I’d written in my notes into something that other knitters would enjoy making too. After a half-dozen false starts, I finally created a version of Marla that has a simple, clever and lovely pattern. I like the way her arms seem to spiral out from her center. In fact, she is constructed one arm at a time. Then stitches are picked up from the side of her arm to make the next arm. This is repeated until the circle is complete.

Oh my goodness, I’d literally spent over a week adjusting her pattern, and it only strikes me now, at the very second I’m typing these words, that instead of picking up stitches on the side of her first arm to create the second, it might just be easier to use short rows on the arms. So maybe I’m not done adjusting her pattern after all. ha! We’ll see.

She’s smaller than her sister versions I’d knit previously. I want her to be a comfortable friend to Lasse the Whale. Not proportional to their real life size differences, just a companionable size.

I think they look good together!

I used the yarn Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in colors petunia and cappuccino. I think a gradient yarn, which gives each arm a slightly different hue, is essential to Marla’s beauty.

Next comes the huge job of getting the pattern tested. Oh boy.