|My Bohus-style sweater, waiting to be steeked
When I cleaned out my knitting bags(!) a week or so ago I found a sweater that needs to be steeked. It's a Bohus cardigan that's so close to being done—it just needs the aforementioned steek and then the buttonbands picked up and knitted. I've heard a lot of knitters talk about how scared they are to cut their knitting, but I'm not scared, I'm excited!
If you're new to the knitting technique
of steeking, too, here's some great info from Interweave Knits
and Knitting Daily TV
host Eunny Jang.Steeking: Cutting the Edge
steek is a column of extra stitches used to bridge two edges of knitting.
Steeks let you knit an entire sweater in the round without reverting to
knitting flat. Steeks can be worked between the right and left fronts of a
cardigan, the front and back edges of an armhole, and/or the sides of a
Openings are created by cutting along the center of the column of stitches—and
sleeves, neckbands, and buttonbands are picked up along the cut edges. When the
garment is complete, the cut edges are trimmed and neatly tacked down on the
wrong side of the garment, creating a tidy facing. Although steeks are most
often worked in color patterns, if you prefer knitting in the round to working
flat, you can use them in solid-color sweaters as well.
|Two examples of steeks and where to cut them. Both are equally effective.
thought of cutting into knitted fabric is counterintuitive at best. Doesn't the
knitting ravel as soon as it is cut? Not when the circumstances are right.
Steeking capitalizes on the reluctance of knit stitches to ravel from side to
side. You can further secure the cut edges by choosing a "sticky" yarn (hairy
animal yarns such as traditional Shetland wools felt so readily that the slight
friction created in the knitting process mats the hairs together and
and cutting steeks
are several methods for reinforcing steek stitches before cutting, each
appropriate to different circumstances. All of them require good light;
patience; a small, sharp pair of scissors; and steady nerves.
traditional steek, worked in sticky Shetland wool in a garment with a very
dense gauge, calls for no reinforcement at all. The friction you create as you
knit will mat and felt the fabric very slightly, stabilizing the area to be cut
and minimizing fraying. Simply cut carefully down the center of each steek,
working in a very straight line and snipping just a few threads at a time.
steek reinforcements firmly bind together the sides of two adjacent stitch
columns to hold the cut ends securely in place. The method is ideal for sticky or
smooth animal fibers still at relatively dense gauges: the applied
binding adds security even to yarns that don't felt readily, but it relies on a
firm base fabric to stay in place. Crocheted steeks are not suitable for plant
fibers or for superwash wools, since the base fabric must have some natural
you use a very slick plant or synthetic fiber, sewing is the only way to ensure
that a steek will not ravel. Because sewing stitches have no elasticity, some
of the flexibility inherent in knitted fabric is lost when you use a sewn
reinforcement. Save this method for when crocheting will not provide enough security.
|Figure 3: Picking up and knitting from a steek edge
|Figure 4: Tacking down the steek flap
up and knitting from a steek edge
the steek is cut, you can pick up stitches just inside the cut edge, along the
purl channel between the border and body stitches, and work button and
neckbands. Figure 3, at left, shows a stitch being picked up at the edge of a steek; notice
how the needle picks up the bar between the border stitch of the steek and the
first stitch of the body, both of which were worked in the background color.
shaped sweaters, the sleeves may be knitted separately and sewn in along the
line created by the border stitch. In every case, the steek flap will naturally
fold to the wrong side along the pick-up or seam line.
Once all finishing work
is completed and the sweater has been washed and blocked, the steeks should be
finished neatly by trimming away any frayed ends and tacking down the flap with
a simple whipstitch or blanket stitch (Figure 4, at left). With every washing and
wearing, the facings will full a little more, eventually creating a durable,
hard-wearing finish on the inside of the garment.
And now here's a video from the new season of Knitting Daily TV, episode 912, where Eunny demonstrates steeking.
Did you know you could download individual episodes of Knitting Daily TV
? That's right—there are tons of knitting techniques right at your fingertips! Get episode 912, Eek, Steeks!
, right now and learn even more about steeking!
P.S. Do you have any steeking tips? Share them with us in the comments!