Tag Archives: steeks

Knotted steeks anyone?

Yikes, I haven’t posted on here for a while. It’s not that I haven’t been knitting diligently, but none of it is very bloggable at the moment.

This week though, I have been playing with a new technique: the Knotted Steek. What is this crazy steek? It’s when you leave trailing ends at the breaks in your fair isle knitting and secure those ends by knotting pairs of them together. There are some better descriptions in this blog post and this excerpt from Principles of Knitting.

What interests me is how unbulky and simple this steek is. I’m rather familiar with the crocheted steek but it’s not suitable for everything. Knotted steeks though…they seemed at first glance like they would work on plain knitting. Naturally I tested that hypothesis with the discipline and rigor of a professional science-person. Nothing says “crafts!” quite like empirical evidence, don’t you think?

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Above you can see my test subject, an old swatch I have lying around from a previous yarn review. I have unpicked the cast-off row and re-knit it so that 6 stitches are still live and unsecured. Once the needle is removed, they can be unravelled all the way down the swatch and those loose strands will be knotted.

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Snip! The first thing to do was knot the cast-off row strands properly so that no other stitches on that row would unravel. You may notice that I have cut straight between two columns of knitting for neatness.

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I then picked out pairs of ends at a time and tied them in a basic overhand knot, held together as one strand. There is a bit of a problem with unravelling washed and blocked knitting – the “ramen noodle” effect.

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It isn’t neat, but it’s knotted!

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Tucking all the ends out of the way shows a lovely neat edge though. I’d be happy picking up a buttonband or sewing another piece onto that edge. It’s sturdy. It holds! Pulling it about doesn’t do much!

Conclusion: Although it produces a ton of ends to be dealt with, I think I like it. I have a real need for plain cardigans at the moment, and I like the idea of be able to churn out a tube of knitting I can cut and knot to my needs. Another technique, another string to the bow!

 

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Impromptu Jumper Surgery

One of my earlier completed jumpers is the Fair Isle Yoke jumper from A Stitch in Time Volume 1. It’s knitted entirely in Jamieson & Smiths 2-ply Shetland wool. I think it looks great, with those colour choices and texture. But it fits horribly. That unflattering neckline, those badly gathered and awkwardly short sleeves, the weird boob-eliminating bagginess, ugh. Whenever I’ve worn it I’ve spent the entire day tugging it into place.

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The problem is, even though I have enough leftover wool for small alterations, I’ve already washed this jumper and the wool has matted just enough to make ripping and re-knitting an exercise in futility and madness. It sat neglected for some time, until I suddenly decided to take action. When ripping your jumper is no longer an option it is time to start treating it like fabric.

This post contains a fairly long photo sequence, so you may enjoy this background music to set the mood.

First things first is to unravel the collar. It’s messy, because of the aforementioned matting. On the plus side I have no problem cutting open all the seams. Then it’s just a quick steam and squish with the iron, and I have all these lovely pieces of knitted fabric just waiting to be measured and re-cut into a more suitable shape.

fiy-7Most of the increases are cut off the sides to reduce the blousiness. Bonus: watch as the winter sunset ruins most of my picture-taking.

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Then it’s time to deal with the neckline…

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I did this by eye because I am goddamn hardcore.

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That edges of that scrap are completely solid by the way. I know some of you would rather eat your own hands that cut into the colourwork you laboured over, but trust me, Shetland wool won’t let you down.

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I don’t know how the sleeves got so poofy originally. Total mistake on my part. Here is one sleeve laid atop t’other to show how much I ended up taking off!

Because the sleeves are too short I will be picking up and knitting along the bottom edge, then reattaching the cuff once I’ve inserted the extra length. It only needs an extra 1.5 inches to make it solidly elbow length, so it’ll be easy.

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And so, after all that, a new and slightly different garment begins to emerge…

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Join me in my next post where I will either be adding extra sleeve length and buttonbands or howling in despair at the realization of what I’ve done. Either way, fun times!

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Filed under Projects, WIPs

One small steek…

…but one giant leap for my fair isle cardigan. Yes, I cut the neckline open.  I think the pictures tell you all you need to know! (except that that is a needle case wedged inside it to keep the front and back separate)

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Filed under Projects, WIPs

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.

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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).

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