Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Ms Steek of Steeking

Knitted in-the-round with sleeves being worked.


I love steeks.
I love the thinking behind this construction method.

I love that steeking is SO sensible, SO easy and SO much better for maintaining a rhythm in the stitching.

I love the fact that my Aran work is ALWAYS AND ONLY worked from the front. 

I love that steeking connects me with a classic tradition.

I love, above all, that I am in charge of my work, not the pattern designer or yarn manufacturer.

But you are cutting into your knitting?


But it might unravel?


Only Croft Knitters do that.....machine knitting is much tidier and neater.

You'd be surprised at the amount of work (and cutting) involved in finishing and neatening a machine-knitted item.  

How do you know where to cut?

You cut only after picking up stitches...and after over-sewing around the cutting line.

You pick up stitches?


But isn't that fiddly?

No more fiddly than working a garment in pieces and seaming it together.

At what rate to you pick up stitches?...every stitch?

Ah....this is the one area of "judgement" you have to use. In the garment photographed I picked up three out of every four stitches as it is a fine gauge (4 knit stitch to one centimetre). Most knitters who work this way default to two out of every three stitches. The whole issue is further complicated by the fact that stitches are picked up to be worked perpendicular to the direction they were knitted in and this alters the stitch gauge. Again, your judgement is required here.
DPNs are used to hoist up stitches in a neat untwisted line along the vertical length of a knitted column.

How many stitches for an armhole?

You need to know the gauge you are working at (row height too). Essentially you measure with a tape measure from shoulder to an approximate armhole depth, place a pin, and start pulling up ONE side of the individual knit stitches as they present in a vertical column. If you pick up every stitch you can end up with an overly blousey, full sleeve. I find that the straight armhole on a drop-shouldered jersey as detailed in the photographs needs between a third and half of the total length of the jersey (for children it gets closer to the half measurement) due to body length: Again, judgement here. 

Make sure you collect the same number of stitches for each sleeve.

Why is your DPN not right at the edge of the Jersey?

Simply because I need a seam allowance. The cutting line will be on the edge of that jersey...that's where I cut. The stitching line is a small distance in from that line. I find the dressmaking line of 1.5 cm to be ideal.
Stitches have been picked up and worked and are covering up uncut edge of the jersey within the new sleeve.

Do you use a sewing machine to secure the knit stitches before cutting?

I have done so in the past when learning this method. I now take a wool needle with the garment's yarn and make a huge buttonhole with firm diagonal hand sewing. I follow the vertical column of stitches securing ONE column on one side and the neighbouring column on the other side...so up one side of the cutting line securing the end over two stitches and then down the other side.
A wriggly vertical line of oversewn neighbouring columns of knit stitch are visible within the picked up and worked stitches of the sleeve.
 The two lines of stitches separate away from each other once trapped under the oversewing leaving a neat little ladder of horizontal steps to cut through.

Stitches starting to be cut for this steek. (Apologies for the blurring.) 

 What if you make a mistake and cut it wrong?

Well, you wouldn't because you are a capable knitter otherwise you wouldn't be here. But remember, knitters can mend MOST dramas. I have once made the mistake of leaving too narrow a seam allowance for a steek. That needed emergency reinforcement but I got there.

What about the top and bottom and top of your cut...how is that secured?

Remember steeks are largely for vertical cuts and therefore armholes. It is actually horizontal yarn you are cutting through. Once you are not cutting horizontal yarn your worked yarn is secure. The answer to the question is, actually with secure over-sewing it will be fine.

What happens to the cut bits?

This worried me for ages. There are two times you cut in a jersey, vertically for armholes and diagonally and horizontally for necklines. THIS gets interesting.
The vertical cut bits are intended to hang neatly acting as facings/stiffening for the armhole line. I never liked this much and kept wanting to cover them or get rid of them. I have learned to like them. The straight welt of knitted fabric obligingly keeps that picked-up line of stitches secure. In a sleeveless vest it is NOT the best finish but in a long-sleeved jersey the steek is fine.

Neck-line held on stitch-holders and yet to be cut and shaped.

Where you cut diagonally and horizontally, as I will be doing on this neck, you will have to secure stitches through a bias and through a pattern. I will pick up stitches, over-sew with a backwards  running stitch and then cut. I have the advantage on this neckline in that I will cover this cut edge with a ribbed finish which will extend over and into the inside. I will cast-off loosely and sew down the edge. The double layer of the ribbing will secure the bias and horizontal cut of the neck. Horizontal cuts have a tendency to splay outwards.

How do you feel after cutting into your knitting...do you celebrate somehow?

Oh yes. It IS a big deal. Chocolate is administered immediately and then later in the day wine is usually poured.
Cutting the steek.

1 comment:

Fiona MacBride said...

If you are having trouble finding where to comment, this is where they go. many thanks...Fiona MacBride