It’s been a while since I’ve done something entirely new in knitting, having knit for about 30 years. I know how to do lace, add texture, knit flat across back and forth and in the round; how to use double-pointed needes, two circulars, one circular, and how to magic loop; I can do a variety of color knitting techniques such as stranded, intarsia and slipped stitching and striping with or without a jog. I can seam, and graft, and set in armholes. I can knit from the top-down or the bottom-up, and even go both ways. I can cast-on conventionally and provisionally in a few ways each, and with extra stretch variations. I know how to do a button-hole in one row or two, and can set in a zipper on a sweater. I’ve been know to design sweaters and other things on the fly. I’ve learned to write patterns for other people, and have taught others a variety of knitting techniques. In other words, I’ve been around the knitting block a time or two.
This litany is not to impress you but to let you have some context for the excitement of trying something I hadn’t even touched in my knitting life. Until a few years ago, I didn’t even know about steeking. I remember vaguely hearing about it at a Stitches West class on something else, and the whole idea of cutting the knitting sounded strange and a bit dangerous. Then I saw what eventually became the Alberta vest by Brooklyn Tweed, and, to be honest, was just a tad smitten. Lucy Neatby’s DVD Knitting Essentials No 2 (scroll down) -you should own it for all kinds of reasons – includes a whole section on steeking and initially I viewed it on the theoretical level a few years ago. Yesterday, after re-viewing her excellent tutorial, steeking seemed far less mysterious and not at all scary, because I’ve been pretty good with a sewing machine, although these days I mostly just use it to hem things and make square pillows.
The sweater itself started in January as part of Ravelympics, and then I lost my umph, and only came back to finishing it last month. Yesterday, I got up the energy and ability to organize the steeking; I sewed the running yarn along the edge stitches, then I got out my sewing machine, and literally, within 15 minutes, the steeks at the armholes and neckline were sewn. Then came the big moment – the cutting of the knitting. All the studying and prep seems to have paid off. See?
The openings have been cut, and I’ve sewn together the shoulders. You can see the green line of stitching from the wrong side at the armhole:
but it’s a bit harder to see the stitches at the neckline (look for the green stitches to the right of the red yarn):
The next step is to pick up the stitches, but I’m a little concerned about the neckline steek, which is only 2 stitches wide on each side. I’ve got some grosgrain tape that I bought today at Knitterly, and my current thought is to hand-stitch the tape around the raw edges so that things won’t unravel. But I think I’ll pick up the stitches for the neckline ribbing first and see what I’ve got afterward.
I’ll let you know how things go, now that I’m past the steekable moment!