Do you see stars or octagons? You might think that is a pointless question so try asking a few other people. You may be surprised by their answers. Octagons will not fit together to cover a surface. They can be placed with points touching or sides touching but there will always be gaps. In Pieces of Eight the gaps are four-pointed stars which have 8 equal sides to match the sides of the octagon.
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An octagon and a star are knitted as one piece by picking up stitches from existing shapes. Only one yarn is used at a time. The combined shapes are then stitched together.
Use any yarn and needles of your choice. The stars were made with five different colours but could be made from one colour. The size of the afghan can be changed by adding more repeats or by changing the size of the pieces.
What other shapes could we make within our original self-imposed rules? Octagons! Beginning with the base of an octagon, the next two sides turn out from that side at 135 degrees, the next two sides require straight knitting and the next two turn in by 45 degrees. The eighth side is the casting off edge. When octagons are fitted together, with their sides touching, the spaces left in between are squares. When they touch at points the spaces are stars. It would be extremely difficult to make those stars according to our rules but splitting the star shape into five pieces meant that a centre square could be worked first and four right-angled trapeziums worked onto it. Four toning colours were used for the trapeziums.
Pieces of Eight was not intended to depict an optical illusion but when it was first displayed it soon became evident that spectators were divided into two distinct groups - those who saw stars with holes between and those who saw octagons with holes between. This may have been the result of the colours we had chosen. If the ‘background’ and ‘foreground’ colours had been of equal intensity so that they vied with each other for importance perhaps they would not have had such a ‘black and white’ view. This lead to us looking at more optical illusions.