Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why Steeks Are Your Friend.

Really! Absolutely nothing to be afraid of...


Here's the thing. Do you see where I cut? That's the "seam" at the beginning of the sleeve. Also notice that it hasn't unravelled. The Shetland yarn "sticks" to itself, and prevents it from running amok. Not a stitch has come undone.

When you knit traditional Fair Isle using good quality Shetland yarn, steeks are inserted at the start of an armhole, at the neckline (when knitting a pullover), or started at the very bottom if knitting a cardigan, and then incorporated until the end of the piece. I usually give myself 8 stitches, with an edge stitch either side for a total of 10 steek stitches. Everyone has their own method that works well for them - I like to alternate my colours across the steek. If you go have a peek at Marina's site, you'll see her Rona, complete with a really nice front steek (it's a cardigan).

Then, when it comes time to cut - you just center your scissors in the centre of the steek (between stitch 5 and 6), and snip away. And trust me - nothing unravels! And, you know what else it great? Minimal finishing! Despite what it may look like, Fair Isle knitting does not require alot of weaving in of ends. As long as you are diligent and neat about changing your colours along the way, you'll be fine! And - when you knit a Fair Isle cardigan? Even better! You can switch your colours as needed in the centre of the steek. After you've cut open your armhole steeks, you pick up your stitches as indicated around the opening, and you're on your way to knitting up your sleeve. And there is NO seaming, which makes this little knitter very happy. :D

What could be better!?

Just remember - good quality Shetland yarn! That's what makes the difference. If you are going to put that much patience and attention to detail that knitting a Fair Isle deserves, you really should use the best quality. Just sayin'...

But hey - this is my opinion and method. If you check out Anne's online shop - She Ewe Knits - she has an excellent tutorial on Fair Isle knitting.

And Wendy has a lot of Fair Isle examples as well, and she has a great tutorial on Norwegian steeks. I've only ever worked Norwegian steeks twice - they are done differently than Shetland yarn ones. Again - no need to be afraid! As long as you trust that thousands of knitters can't have been wrong when doing this steek thingy.

And here's my progress on Amphora -

"I just came over to say hi to Mom, and I end up getting used as a prop..."

Sleeve #1? Check. Collar? Check! Start of Sleeve #2? Woo! Check!!

Birthday boy Gandalf would like to thank all his wonderful friends for all the wishes he received. He may be classified as a "cat" now as opposed to a "kitten", but try telling him that. He's still as goofy as ever. And sleepy. So Mae graciously agreed to pose for today's kitty cheesecake photo.

"No I didn't."

I think I'm going to 'fess up next post, and introduce you to my oldest WIP, a poor sweater that has been patiently waiting to be completed for over 2 years now. Or maybe it's 3? Anyway - you will meet her and I'll hopefully get the virtual kick in the pants I need to finish her up.


Lorraine said...

Brigitte- So, you're going to reveal one of your dirty secrets?
I'm intrigued.

Steeks don't scare me, but creepy crawlies do.

Nice pose there, Mae.

Sonya said...

Mae's such a fluff! I'm looking forward to your oldest WIP.

Chris said...

Steeks. *whimper*

Aw, Mae is so fluffy! Fluff fluff fluff.

Very intrigued at finding out this "dark secret" project. :D

Dipsy said...

Oh my gosh! Steeks... the whole idea of it scares me big time, really! You're a courageous girl, that's for sure! ;) And awwww, how cute and fluffy Mae is! Adore her!

Marina said...

Thank you to whomever who invented the steek! I know I would have had a lot more UFOs if I had to knit individual pieces as seaming is not my strong point ;-)

Ooo, I could bury my face in Mae's tummy! It's like one big "powder puff".

Western seas?

Anonymous said...

Steeks -- once you get over the jitters they are easy aren't they? Way to go Brigitte!

I'm anxiously awaiting "the reveal" of this long standing project.

Carrie K said...

Ooh, I can't wait to see The Oldest WIP.

LOL, Mae! Those candid cheese shots will get you every time.

Steeks! One of these days I'll get to that point.

Nicole said...

I would give you a virtual kick in the pants, except that would leave me wide open for retaliation. I have a vest that has been in the ready-to-be-sewn stage (not a knit project, but still) for many more years than your poor sweater has been languishing. :)

Brenda said...

Good shot of Mae! Thanks for sharing your steek confidence. Maybe someday.

Jewel said...

Mae is so cute. Nice steeking - You should have a finished project very soon. Can't wait to see it!

barbp said...

I'm feeling light headed - scissors and yarn - *runs away*

*darting back* It's all beautiful and happy bday to the boy.

*running away*

Tracey said...

Ha, pour thing, you've been watching Chris and Chaos too long.

Ok, your reassurances that there is no unraveling makes sense...but the whole cutting my knitting with very sharp pointy scissors still makes me a little nauseous. But I trust you.

Anni said...

Mae looks like a darling - soft and fluffy :)

- and I think of my first steek as some kind of a bungy jump (the only bungy jump I ever did ;)). Scaring, but you're right - nothing terrible happens.

Amphora looks so perfect. You are a very patient person.

Debby said...

Poor Mae, having to lie in as today's model. Does she get an extra treat for that?

I'm definitely intrigued by your longest running UFO...I have finally finished my longest multiple-year ones, but if I don't finish or frog the camisole soon, it's going to morph into a multi-year one.

Angelika said...

Thanks for the pep talk on the steeks. I'm battling them right now and I feel you wrote this post just for me. Next hurdle - the neck steek. Pattern calls for back and forth, but I'm determent to do it the right way instead.