Technique

Eek! A Steek!

Although I could go for a steak right now. Anywho!

Autumngeisha commented on Liam’s Loki the other day and asked about seeing the steek process. I will try to explain the set up before, since I really didn’t take photos of it. But I have documented the sewing and cutting part for your enjoyment. So, on to the process.

These ends will need to be woven in by hand since there were not captured in the steek.

This sweater started at the neck, so I knit the corrugated ribbing, my modification, flat. Then added 5 sts for the steek. I did these with a knitted on cast on. The rest of the sweater was knit in the round. The 5 sts that were added for the steek were always knit as follows, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, no matter what color I was using. I tried to keep the background color as the ks and the accent colors were the ps. This not only creates columns of color, but a small rib. Why did I want a rib at the front? To facilitate the sewing and cutting. More on that later. You also want to be sure to work at least one stitch in the steek with the colors you are using in the row. If you are changing from cream to brown, you need to have an ending stitch in cream in that steek and then a beginning stitch of brown in the steek. This is to avoid weaving in ends that didn’t get caught in the steek. Even if the color doesn’t start until 5 sts in, always put that yarn in the steek when beginning a new color.

So, once I finished the knitting of the beast, sleeves and all-which is not necessary, I took to my bed, faint at the thought of sewing and cutting the sweater! Well, actually no. I just got my UK cup with my Pepsi and off to set up the sewing machine. I choose brown thread, cause it was actually already threaded through my machine. The color of the thread is iffy. You might go with a color that matches the major color in the steek, but ultimately, it isn’t supposed to show, so it really matters not. If you do not finish the edges of the sweater, go with a close match. If you are covering the cut edges, who cares. I am planning to cover the edges with ribbon, so it wasn’t a big issue.

I use a walking foot on my machine to prevent the smash and sew you get with knit fabric feeding through a normal foot. I use it for quilting too, when I quilt, which was back in 2000? Start your sewing off the fabric. You want to be sure you are getting the edge as secure as the rest. Back stitch helps too.

   

The first image is where I started, bottom of the sweater sewing up. The second photo shows two lines of small zig-zag stitch, one in the ditch created by the purl stitch and the other covering the knit stitch towards the center. The purl stitches next to the front edge of the cardigan are where you want to place your stitching lines. And you need to sew 2 rows of stitching on each edge. This is just preventative medicine. In the second photo I have already sewn the first two steek lines on one side and have started the 2nd line on the last side. The thrid photo shows the sewn steeks from the back side and an oops. I forgot to gather all the ends and make sure they were laying to the center of the lines being stitched. This is to be sure to catch them in the middle of the sweater. Other wise you might not secure the ends well. This one will have to be sewn in my hand.

The first photo below shows the sewing in the ditch created by the purl stitch. Once you have all 4 lines sewn it is chowtime! I mean showtime! OK, I always get hungry when I steek, it makes me think of steak. Seriously! So, I use a book or hard object, in this case, my machine plate for flat sewing, to prevent cutting into the back of the sweater. And finally, the first cut. You will cut your steek using the center purl stitch as a cutting guide. See, that’s why all those purl stitches. Center purl to cut on, side purls to sew on.

   

Eek!! A Steek!! What have I done!!!Actually, I have created a cardigan, or in this case it will be more like an outer wear light coat. OK, not quite yet, button bands and buttons still need to be added. But here is the final result of the steek experiment.

   

The center color is more accurate. You can see how I messed up by not gathering my ends to the center. Oh well, I will end up picking out all the strands from under the stitching. The 2nd photo shows the difference between catching strands and letting them float. I did have to catch when things were floating over 7 stitches, but stopped worrying over them when it was just 5 stitches. Now the cardigan is waiting for it’s final details, button bands and buttons. I am not please with the dimensions. I started with a US7 instead of the US8, so that’s my mistake. And I didn’t allow enough for the difference in row gauge. But, looking at similar patterns, I am not off in measurements too much. But the ultimate test is putting it on a kid. That will be the proof.

In closing, a comment about the yarn. It is LB Wool-Ease. I haven’t hated knitting with it, but then, haven’t loved it. But I am not crazy about the fabric it makes. Maybe I am just too spoiled working with merinos and alpacas, and yummy yarns. I would have thought the acrylic content might make up for the wool, but it seems they went out and found the scratchiest wool they could find! Remind me to just buy Encore from Plymouth next time. Or, their luscious Superwash!!! I have heard you aren’t supposed to steek with Superwash, considering the process of making it superwash kind of takes out the felted properties of wool. The felting of the cut edges is supposed to help the steek. But I have yet to have any superwash item come undone when steeked. So, I say, go for it!

Sorry for the long, and likely disconnected screed on steeking. I am sure a book on it would provide better info. In fact, the book I picked up Friday is awesome for this type of knitting. “Norwegian Sweater Techniques for Today’s Knitter” is a must for anyone who enjoys color work or steeks!

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4 thoughts on “Eek! A Steek!”

  1. I’m surprised you steeked a Wool-Ease sweater. I thought the sweater had to be 100 percent wool and I would have thought the acrylic component of Wool-Ease would have meant no steeking.

    1. You would think that, but the reason only 100% wool things were steeked was because the cut edges would then felt together, to prevent the whole thing from falling apart. But, with sewing a steek on a machine, there really is no reason an acrylic, superwash, or other fiber item can’t be steeked. There is no fiber that is going to work its way out of sewing.

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