Sunday, December 9, 2012

Yeek! Steeks!

As promised this blog is about steeks. The above book is my go-to book for all things Fair Isle.
Why steek? The main reason is so you can keep working in the round – just knitting, no purls and you get to watch the pattern develop as you work. . The problem comes up when you come to the armholes. If you change to working flat (i.e, back and forth knitting and purling) your gauge will change as will the look of the stitches. They really will be less even.


So steeks were invented to make a holding place for the armholes, the front of a cardigan and even the neck shaping. The steek is a bridge of stitches that will later be cut, folded back and stitches picked up to work the arms of the sweater or in the case of a cardigan or neck shaping - the bands.
Maybe not used traditionally but stitch markers are great to mark where the steek starts and ends. Notice the placement of these on this swatch - the chili pepper is the start. The little silver one is hard to see. It marks the end of the steek and the beginning of the Fair Isle pattern.
There are lots of ways to make the steek. I am giving you my favorite as it provides:
·        A pair of stitches that outline the cutting line – the pink thread shows where the cut will be. I don’t need this when I cut the steek as I can usually follow the center lines. Some people do baste in a contrasting thread so they are sure they are cutting in the right spot.
·         A row of stitches that mark the fold line – the green thread marks this. Again this is just to show where the line is.
·         Even stitches in the garment next to the steek. Some steeks are made by winding yarn around the needle. I like the knitted steek as the garment stitches maintain their evenness.
·         Extra stitches that will not unravel after the central stitches are cut
Steeks can be added anywhere.  In the first photo the steek was started at the very beginning as if for a cardigan. The steek above is for a sleeve.
·         One stitch was removed and held in place by a locking stitch marker.
·         Then ten stitches were cast-on for the steek. Any cast on will do even the “e” or half hitch cast-on.
·         I kept the same formula – the background  color for the stitches at the beginning and end of the steek and for the two stitches in the center where the cut will be. The ones in between can be alternated in the pattern color.
I know cutting is the hardest part but it gets easier with practice. In this photo the steek is folded back to the inside of the garment and tacked with a cross stitch according to Fair Isle tradition. The cross stitching is done in white near the center of the photo.
This sweater is cotton. I did stay stitch on either side of the cutting line with the sewing machine because it was cotton. I have not done that with any of my wool sweaters that were steeked and cut and they have not unraveled a bit. Wool likes to hold on to itself. I needed a little extra sense of security with cotton.
Amazing, isn’t it? Fair Isle is great fun and steeking is not scary once you have done it.

No comments: