Towanda!*

Monday, Monday, Monday. I know you have to come every week, but honestly this is starting to get annoying. Are you sure you and Sunday can’t work out some kind of a truce?

At any rate, nothing distracts from Monday-dom like cutting up some knitting, am I right? ;) I was so flattered and warm-fuzzied by all your lovely comments on my Ivy League Vest last week. A lot of you expressed your own fear over doing a project that requires you to cut things – and really, one has to sympathize. Every knitter who is a steek-cutter was once a knitter who was not a steek-cutter, who in fact probably exclaimed “you want me to do WHAT with that thing I just knitted out of 8 colours and 2 months of my life?” at the very prospect of cutting a steek.

So, I was thinking about this, and if you’re in the WHAT? category, ::coughcough::mymother::coughcoughcough:: here’s something you can do about it. First, you knit yourself a swatch. Find yourself 2 shades of fingering-weight wool (this only works with wool, sadly), cast on about 70 stitches or so, and work it in the round in a pattern of your choice. I used the chart from the Endpaper Mitts, since the pattern was close by and that can be worked in 10-stitch increments. Here, I used Knit Picks Palette in ‘Red’, and ‘Blush’ (a little bright, in retrospect – next time I attempt a demo, I’ll choose a combination that’s easier on the eyes), and my 2.75mm bamboo DPNs.

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If you’ve never done stranded knitting, this is a good time to practice holding one colour in each hand, too. (There is a video clip of one method of this at the Philosopher’s Wool site under ‘Video Clips’ – viewable in I.E.). Somewhere in the swatch, be sure to insert a steek – a column of 8-10 sts which you will later cut down the middle. Here, I worked the steek stripe pattern similar to the Ivy League Vest, alternating colours and keeping the 2 centre colours the same: A, B, A, B, A, A, B, A, B, A.

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Work to a length that feels good. Don’t be too stingy, either. This is also a good opportunity for you to consult what gauge you’re getting, if that’s a piece of information you’d like to know. Bind it off and then have a nice ponder over the fact that you’re about to cut this up down the middle. Feel free to have a sip of wine or eat a bag of chocolate chips or do some push-ups, or whatever it is you need to do before diving in. But remember, this is only a swatch. If you mess up, then it’s not as though you’ve ruined a precious gift. And then, you cut:

My little clip here is definitely not the only YouTube video that shows cutting a steek. This one has particularly visceral sound-effects (heh), and also displays a different steek pattern option. And it also shows you how important it is to keep one hand inside the knitting to make sure you can keep the scissors’ path steady – you don’t want to end the cutting only to discover you’ve just sliced the entire works into two pieces. If that happened, I would need something a whole lot stronger than just a sip of wine.

You’ve just cut an unreinforced steek. I think it’s nice to just leave it out on the table, or in your purse, or even let the cat paw it around a bit. Let it stay unreinforced for a bit and get a feel for how sturdy it is. But eventually, you can do some trimming on the cut edge and some reinforcement. Sew it down with sewing machine/needle and thread, fold and whipstitch it down, or just a line of single crochet will do:

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Congratulations! At this point, the swatch has done its job and doesn’t owe you anything else. But if you’re like me and can’t turn down the opportunity to make something more, you could, say, fold it in half and sew up the sides…and pick up some stitches around the base of the steek…

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And throw some ribbing on there, and get a wee little pouch out of the deal.

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Cutting up your knitting – it’s good for what ails you. ;)

*Thank you, Fried Green Tomatoes.

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9 Comments

Filed under fair isle, fearless knitting, swatching

9 responses to “Towanda!*

  1. what a cute idea! I’d definitely have to swatch and practice if I ever try this….just to get that “first cut” out of the way!

  2. Towanda!!! indeed!!! (I’ve been known to yell this out at particular moments :^)

    This is a Very Good Idea! At some point I AM going to do this, when I get all this other knitting finished up:^)

    Thank you SO much, I can tell already I’ll be mumbling to myself for the rest of the day about this post, heh.

  3. Hey – I love this – I was thinking hmm but that’s quite a lot of work just to try a steek and then you went and made something cute too – great work Monday blues banisher :o)

  4. Lin

    That is great! I did a steek-along once in a similar way but I like that idea of turning it into a useful item!

  5. Steph F.

    Oh man. That looks TERRIFYING. I’ll make sure to try it some day when my confidence is higher.. hehe. I don’t know if I commented on the vest but it’s BEAUTIFUL. And you look great in it!

    Hope you’ve having a better Monday than I am – papers and midterms and two jobs, oh my. Though I’m sure you’ve been there, done that ;)

  6. Thank you for the very cheery steeking!!!

  7. Melissa

    You are SO BRAVE! Do all you Canadians possess such robust natures? Can I just move on to the wine / chocolate chip step because I watched the video…it’s ALIVE!

    A fan from afar, Melissa

  8. Lady O

    That is awesome! I will have to try that.

  9. Eeeep! I’m still not convinced. Next sweater you steek, I’m watching.