Tag Archives: stranded knitting

Steeking – what happened when I took the scissors to my knitting

To me, steeking has been one of the Dark Arts. A mysterious process, only to be attempted by knitting experts. .

However, I like cardigans and I want to make Fair-Isle patterns so steeking is a pre-requisite. Many of the cardigans in Yokes are steeked so maybe this is something I need to learn?

I’ve started Epistrophy and the interest in the pattern is around the steek and the stranded yoke. It’s coming along and I’m in the middle of the stockinette section:

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This is OK in front of the TV but it’s a loooong section.

I decided to practice cutting a steek to see whether or not it worked. I’d planned to do before I started so my tension swatch doubled up as a sample:

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I used the contrast yarn to show the steek stitches – there are 7.

Most of the knitting blogs that cover steeking seem to do this. OK, when you are knitting through a pattern but for a plain section, you need to be careful as they could show through from the underside.

This is not going to be a “how to” guide – I looked at Elinor Brown Knits and Kate Davies’ tutorials and the obligatory You Tube tutorials. The blogs were the most useful. This blog is going to look at what happens on a first attempt – and yes, it’s do-able.

Crocheting the reinforcement was straightforward. The thing to consider is that the yarn for the crocheting would ideally be a contrast to make it easier to see where you are cutting in the next step. But you have weight that up against the possibility of the yarn showing through from underneath. My yarn is pale and fine so it’s a bit of an issue.

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Cutting was the trickiest part. I think I caught some the the reinforcement stitches which you are not supposed to do. It was hard to stretch the stitches enough to see the ladders clearly as my yarn is fine. I followed You Tube guidance with the crochet stitches which weren’t as thorough as the double crochet stitches suggested in the blogs and this might have made my reinforcement a bit less secure.

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You can see a few threads that haven’t been caught into the reinforcement. However, the knitting didn’t fray and was stable and you can see it’s holding. Not likely to pull apart.

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At this point, I followed Kate’s tutorials and made a steek sandwich. That was very straightforward and  creates a neat finish. My problem here was that my steek was made with 7 stitches and Kate had made hers with 5. I followed the pattern slavishly, not taking account of this – I realise I should have added more row to the “sandwich’ The consequence was that I had to cram my steek filling into the “bread” and it bulges. I will know better next time.

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The finish is neat – as you can see. But notice the hint of blue coming through from the underside.

At this point, I realised that my pattern called for a button band finish so a steek sandwich isn’t needed. The final button band  will look something like this – I got the beaded rib a bit mixed up as I forgot to take account of the fact that I wasn’t working in the round. But this didn’t matter for my sample as you can see the general effect.

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It’s neat and secure. Underneath, you can see the edge:

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It’s a bit rough but it’s not going to fall apart. Kate’s advice is to cover this with a ribbon – I will do this for my finished cardigan.

Overall, I enjoyed making this. My knitting survived the scissors and a steek was fun to make.

Tackling Tension!

The most tricky aspect of knitting seems to be tension – more tricky than counting.

Counting was tricky at first as I was learning the pattern, thinking I knew what was coming next and then realising that I didn’t. I did a bit of knitting backwards, fixed the error and that was fine.

However, as my knitting has started to grow, I’ve become irritated by tension issues. With stranded colour work, I know that the issue is about making the floats loose enough so that there isn’t any puckering on the front as the floats pull the knitting in. I’ve been aware of this and consciously tried to make sure the floats are loose but not so loose that you get ‘big’ stitches where the colour changes. I’ve also been trying to stretch the stitches out a bit on the right needle to make sure I’m not bunching them together and then picking up the yarn, making a too short float.

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But having looked at a few blog posts about stranded knitting, I can see that these are classic issues around the floats being too tight.

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This is the back – do the floats look too tight?

Also, where there is an odd stitch in the contrast colour, it can seem to dive in and get lost. You can see this in the picture below (which is the worst example) I can pull it back out with a cable needle but I don’t think that’s quite what’s intended!

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Will this block out?

I’m one week into the project and I’ve done about 2 repeats of the 14 repeat pattern. I’ve got a long way to go. Obviously, I will make the rest of this looser so that puckering improves. However, it’s a beautiful pattern and I want to make this a beautiful piece of knitting – rather than something that’s good enough.

So, I’m in a quandary – should or I rip it back and start again? Or carry on?