I have recently (in the last month) begun knitting a sweater that is comprised of extremely fine colorwork. Incidentally, I intend to knit another one when I’m finished with this one, with a different pattern on it. But that’s neither here nor there.
This sweater has “steeking” in it. Usually, when one knits a piece with colorwork, the pattern maker makes it “easier” by separating the front and back into two separate pieces worked in “short rows” (rather than “in the round”) so that you never have to cut your work. The concept of cutting work – especially colorwork – for somebody who hasn’t done it yet is incredibly intimidating.
Steeking is cutting. It requires that you add an odd number of extra stitches (usually between three and seven) where you intend on having something like a neckline, or an armhole, and it allows you to continue working “in the round” by alternating the colors in the steek stitches so that you can reinforce it later, either with crochet or with a sewing machine, and then (of course) cut it down the middle and sew it to the back of your work. If you’ve got a plain knitted sweater (with no colorwork on it), it’s pretty darn easy to turn it into a cardigan rather than a pullover if you ever decide you want it that way. Just steek it right down the middle and cut/sew your edges and voila. Cardigan.
Like I said, it’s intimidating. When I looked at the steek stitches on my sweater, I’d get a flutter in my heart and start going “ugh. I don’t really need armholes do I? I can just walk around with no armholes. I totally can.”
But alas, I woke from that dream and realized that since I have arms, it would be nice to use them. Also, my head won’t fit through the tiny hole left over in the middle where the neckline ends (the neck requires steeking also). Tonight, I did the steeking on one sleeve, consumately screwed it up (but was able to save it and will work on making it less noticeable later), and intend on doing the second arm hole after I finish knitting the sleeve on the screwy one.
The pattern maker for the sweater I’m currently knitting suggested using either this article: http://www.eunnyjang.com/knit/2006/01/the_steeking_chronicles_part_i.html
or this video:
I tried reading the article and was like, “UGH.” all the arrows and the pointers and stuff were just too much for me. Plus there’s all that writing.
And the video, while informative, was almost comical and I had a hard time taking it seriously. The way it starts with her and her huge smile, snipping the scissors… It reminded me so much of a dang SNL skit, that I could almost hear the audience busting up in the background.
So I searched online and found this: http://exercisebeforeknitting.com/2009/11/09/fair-isle-style-steekingthe-quick-and-dirty-tutorial/
That ^ is the BEST tutorial I’ve found online. The photos are big, and clear. There are no freakin’ arrows or pointers. Each step is clearly explained. It’s the only way I felt comfortable cutting anything I knit.
Best of all, with that tutorial, I found steeking to be quick and easy. Far easier than I thought it would be – so easy, in fact, that I am not sure now why I was so upset over it (except for my almost disaster with the knitting pulling out one side of my first steek because I accidentally CUT THE REINFORCEMENT. <banging head on keyboard>).
So here are a few photos of my sweater so far, the mistake I made with the first steek, and what steeking looks like on my work (which is MUCH finer than anything they showed in any of the tutorials I found):
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