Choosing Yarn: Quality will be posted tomorrow– today, enjoy a reworked classic from my private blog.
As an undergraduate I attended a college that has been referred to as Hogwarts for Lutherans. Upon leaving that wonderful and snowy place for southern climes, I got homesick. My very knitterly solution was to make myself a classic Norwegian Sweater, preparatory to designing a Norwegian Sweater with my school’s various Norwegian motifs worked in. The self-designed sweater is still only a twinkle in my eye, but the Norwegian sweater was finished at the end of 2007. One of the things I needed to do was steeks (especially since it wasn’t a sweater, but a cardigan), and I took a lot of pictures of my steeking technique. Despite referring early and often to Eunny Jang’s great steeking tutorial, I eventually decided to go my own way with steeks. This is a photo-supported description of my steeking process, which allowed me to work with unreinforced steeks without anxiety or fear.
The Norwegian Sweater in question is the Drops 52-17 Cardigan in Karisma Classic with snowflakes, knit with Knitpicks Merino style in black, white and red.
I did not take pictures of my process throughout (I forgot to picture the sleeves, for example), but there’s still enough photos of the process for me to do a walk-through. Even if you aren’t interested in steeks, going from this:
Is an accomplishment in and of itself. If you’re interested, read on!
I began with the knitted sweater body you see above. It had been washed and blocked. You can see the seven-stitch steek down the middle. That’s where I eventually cut.
From the beginning, I diverged from traditional steeking practice. I picked up and knit my borders while the front steek was still uncut. That way, the button band itself would hold the steek together once it was cut, preventing unraveling.
I did this in the usual way: I picked up the bar of yarn BETWEEN the last column of pattern stitches and the first column of knitted stitches. Picking up yarn bars in the middle of a stitch results in stitches that are pulled out of shape (ask me how I know this).
After picking up the stitches, I knit the button bands, which had to be double the width of the finished button band, since they would be folded over and stitched down over the cut steek edges. The button bands are knit perpendicular to the body of the sweater, which results in some rather long rows. I repeated this process for both sides of the steek, for two button bands:
Then I returned to the typical steeking process, complete with beer and scissors.
After a bracing swig, I began to cut (forgive the drama, these were my first steeks!)
I cut down the middle of the fourth stitch in this seven-stitch steek, leaving me with three and a half steek stitches on each side after cutting. The yarn, Knitpicks Merino Style, was very sticky, so my paranoid picking-up of button bands before cutting was probably not necessary. In a lot of places, people cut the steeks, then wash and block the sweater, and then pick up stitches… all without any reinforcement at all. I was not this brave. See the cut ends:
Eek! After cutting all the way down the line, I have a cardigan where I previously had a tube.
Now it’s time to start sewing down the loose ends of the button bands, covering up the fuzzy steeks:
After a few wears and washes, the steeks will felt a bit with the button bands, making the whole thing even more secure. Though it’s pretty good already. Tah dah! Button bands:
Then, unfortunately, we lose pictoral documentation, so you will have to imagine me picking up the stitches for the collar and knitting that.
Likewise, we don’t have any pictures for the sleeves, which followed the same procedure as the button bands. I sewed the sleeves to the body over the steeked areas, careful to fold the facings INSIDE the sewn area. Then I cut the steeks. Until then, I had two sleeves sewn to a tube with no way to get my hands through! It was pretty funny.
After cutting the steeks, I sewed down the inside facings to cover up those icky edges, too:
The sleeves went on very prettily:
Leaving me with a gorgeously completed sweater.
Even prettier after some judicious steaming.
I did end up pulling out the neckband and knitting on a new one, since this one likes to stand up straight. I’ve since learned that if you want the collar to lie flat, you need to decrease a few stitches as you knit it, in order to decrease the overal circumference of the circle and cause the collar to draw in rather than stick up.
The final word: I would definitely use this steeking technique again. I think the small amount of increased fiddliness (particularly when navigating the sleeve steeks) is more than worth the peace of mind that you have during the whole process.