Lessons I have learnt about steeks the hard way

Did you know that Kate Davies has some really good posts about crocheted steeks up on her blog? It’s true! I’ve been following her tutorial whilst simultaneously having some fun with fair isle in Excelana.

(Excelana is advertised as being a really good yarn for colourwork. I am happy to confirm that yes, yes it is)

Steeking, for the uninitiated, is when you cut your knitting vertically through a pre-planned point. It makes it way easier to knit colourwork because previously flat things can just be knitted as a nice continuous tube before being snipped. A crocheted steek specifically means cutting down the middle of a single column of stitches, having first crocheted each ‘leg’ of those stitches to it’s neighbour in the next column.

These are my first little experiments in steeking. Being that they are experiments, I have learnt some lessons. Lessons that I am going to share with you now.

Take note of these newbie errors!

Lesson 1: The direction that you crochet in matters.

A single row of crochet has a front and a back. The backs of your two crocheted reinforcement must be facing each other! I.e. Both columns must be leaning away from each other. Not only does this make it way easier to see where you’ll be cutting, if affects the steeked edge too. Observe the difference! The right way has completely hidden the ends of the cut knitting within the back of the crochet.

Here is the wrong way. Ah! The ends have all popped out! So untidy!

Lesson 2: Remember to use a hook size smaller than your knitting needles.

Like, 2 sizes smaller at least. I don’t crochet very much so you know my gauge is going to be huge and sloppy anyway. I didn’t help myself by using a hook that was only 0.25mm narrower than my needles. Look at those weird ripply bits that resulted! Choose your tools well please.

Lesson 3: Do NOT start pulling on the edge of your steek ‘just to see’ how secure it is.

Just NO. No, no no. Noooooooo. The answer is ‘not very’. Steeked edges are not load-bearing structures! Their job is to keep things neat whilst you pick up stitches a few columns away, so that they can take the strain instead. Then, when you wash your project, the fibres should felt together a bit and make things a bit more secure. That’s one of the nice things about woollen fair isle jumpers and cardigans. The steeks just get firmer and firmer with age and repeated washings.


With these lessons learnt, you can move on to other things, like adorable I-cord bind-offs and dreaming about the perfect fair isle cardigan.

That 200 Fair Isle Motifs book is turning out be really handy by the way! If you are a fellow book-haver you may be interested to know that I used motifs 50, 106 & 153 in my swatches (the XO pattern is just improv).


Filed under Guides/How-to's

6 responses to “Lessons I have learnt about steeks the hard way

  1. I’ve yet to muster the courage to tackle steeks – the thought alone of just CUTTING through my knitting gives me the willies… If I actually had to do it, I might suffer a heart attack. 😉

  2. Thanks for a very handy post! I am planning some steeking in the near future, so I will definitely keep these hints in mind.

  3. I’ve only done steeking once before (on a swatch) and I had pretty much the same experience as you have, although your swatches are MUCH prettier. This was a very helpful post, thank you!

  4. Pingback: 1st Blogiversary Giveaway! 200 Fair Isle Designs | A pile of sheep

  5. Pingback: Knotted steeks anyone? | A pile of sheep

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