Colourful progress

I don’t know if it’s the impending spring, or the crazy up-and-down-by-15C-every-3-days temperatures, or just a little bit of March Madness, but I’m starting to feel a bit of Start-itis coming on. I know it’s not just me – knitters in the Twitter-verse have been saying the same thing all week, which makes me feel a little bit better about rounding up big piles of pink, red, green, and orange yarn earmarked for various projects which, apparently, are all about to be “next.” Of course, they can’t all be next, but the knitter in my head has always had a rich fantasy life, and she never fails to provide the ambition.

I’ve been resisting (so far – i make no promises about the coming weekend) casting on All The Things in favour of making progress on the things already on the needles. The knitter in my head had sort of hoped that I would be done with my Velvet Morning cardigan already by now, but then I reminded her that it’s only been a week since I started it, and that perhaps having almost the entire body completed in that time is really nothing to sneeze at.

Mar30-Velvet1

I mentioned in my post about this last weekend that I’m modifying this cardigan to include a steek, so that I may work it in the round. A few of you had some questions about that and how it’s going to work. If you’re just tuning in here and haven’t heard me wax on about steeks before, or if you’ve never encountered this technique before or even heard the word ‘steek’ until you happened by my post the other day, I’m very happy to tell you more about it. As I work through this project I’ll be sure to keep you posted on what I’m doing, but here’s the basic gist of it.

In modifying Velvet Morning for work in the round, all I did was cast on as-written for the size that I wanted, in the appropriate needle size to get gauge, and add enough stitches to create a steek panel where the cardigan gap will be located at the front of the body. The rest of it will proceed as normal, with the exception that the body will be done in the round except for flat or ‘back-and-forth’.

The steek is a relatively old technique (exactly how hold, I’m not sure, but…a long while, let’s say. Norwegian knitters and Shetland knitters have been all over this for a long time), and all it is is a panel of stitches located in a spot where you want to have a gap, but avoid putting the gap in to begin with because you want to be able to work in the round. The steek stitches are not at all involved with the pattern stitches for the actual garment, except in the sense that you need to know where they are.

Mar30-Velvet2

So, essentially, this is a technique that allows you to only work “Right Side” rows by working continuously in the round, without turning back to do the “Wrong Side.” The times when you want to use this technique are the times when working in the round and later cutting a steek is a preferable option to working “Wrong Side” rows. The most obvious and frequent application of this is for stranded colour-work, and the place where you’re most likely to encounter this technique is for things like Fair Isle sweaters (where you want gaps for armholes, cardigan fronts, etc), colour-work blankets (where you want to make a square but knit a tube first, then cut it up one side), or intricately cabled cardigans (where the cable twists occur every round or 2/3 rounds, rather than neatly alternating between RS and WS rows).

There are many different ways to work with steeks, and to reinforce them (which is something I get into when I teach this ;) ), but it always involves cutting. It’s a bit scary the first time you do it, but generally everyone still lives to tell the tale afterward.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted as progress occurs, dear knitters – I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the final cutting and sewing up! Tomorrow I’m off to Collingwood to spend a day with knitters at Grey Heron Yarns’ Knit Fest, and teach some classes (no steeking, but there will be colour-work!). I’m sure it’ll be a great time.

Happy knitting this weekend!
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19 Comments

Filed under colour-work, fearless knitting, steeks

19 responses to “Colourful progress

  1. good explanation of this process! also, the sweater is GORGEOUS!

  2. Your sweater is lovely & I’m impressed that you have gotten so much done already. I’m guessing your case of startitis is just giving the knitter in your head unrealistic expectations when it comes to the speed with which one knits a color-work sweater!

  3. Your sweater is looking awesome!

  4. I love purple and green together. Your colorwork is awesome!

  5. I am itching with startitis as well. But so far I have managed to rein it in. I did finish and alter my tank and I made a necklace to wear with it. I have cast on a second top but haven’t really worked on it because I’m still trying to figure out the pattern, a friend is trying to help me to alter it to fit me, I’m a curvy girl. Have a great weekend.

    OH!!! I love your color work, it looks fab!

  6. Looks beautiful. BTW, coming down with a huge case of startitis myself! I have 15 WiPs that I really should be finishing but you know how it is, with all the awesome patterns out there (and those in my sketch book) its hard NOT to salivate about starting something NEW :-)

  7. What kind of yarn are you using? It doesn’t look like wool and I’ve noticed wool is the preferred yarn for steeking. Yours looks a little like bamboo yarn!

  8. The yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts superwash wool Aran :)

    Non-wool and superwash wool yarns can indeed be used for steeks, but they require a sewn reinforcement before cutting.

    Happy knitting, Glenna

  9. Wow! The color scheme on your sweater looks terrific! I know from experience (read: magically growing sweater) that superwash is slippery…I will be interested to see how you reinforce the edges of the steek!
    My inner knitter has yet to overcome lack of knitting needles in the real world…otherwise, I’m sure Spring Startitis would have taken me, too.

  10. Hi Glenna.we met a few years ago at the KW Knitters Fair. I work at Grey Heron and am looking forward to seeing you again tomorrow at our Knitfest. The Ravenna Hall is actually outside Collingwood – beyond it from your direction – so leave lots of travel time.

  11. The cardigan looks beautiful! Are you putting steeks in for where the armholes will be as well, or only for the front?

  12. Such beautiful work. I am envious!

  13. I, too, suddenly want to knit all the things! I’ve been knitting like mad, and at the same time I’m thinking about other things I want to knit. Crazy.
    I love the colors in your cardi-to-be, and am looking forward to seeing you cut it!

  14. Steeking and I aren’t really old friends but we’re getting there. I’m curious to see how you’ll reinforce the soon to be cut edges.

  15. Janet

    I just started reading your blog and I’m glad to have found it. I am just finishing my first color work sweater and I will be cutting my steeks soon. I will be following you as you cut your steeks. You are working much faster than I am. I look forward to learning from you.

  16. Golly Glenna! You must knit non-stop! I can’t believe you’ve made so much progress already. It looks gorgeous and I’m excited to follow the rest of the steeking process.

  17. Jennie

    Glenna,
    It’s beautiful! But I have a question. Where do you change colors? If it’s in the middle of the steek, where did your ends go? And if you have a way to weave them in in the middle of your steek, can you tell us here? Thanks!

  18. Jennie – that’s a good question! I’ll keep that in mind to show off next time I’ve got a progress shot of this. At the moment I’m still on the colour-work bits ;)

    G

  19. Eva

    Those colours look great together, so no doubt the sweater will be beautiful.