Steeks in acylic yarn
January 24, 2011
Steeks make me sweat or rather they did before I actually attempted a steek. My Norwegian mother in law informs me that steeks were once the bread n butter of knitting. Everything was knit in the round and then cut and added to later: neck lines, sleeves, cardigans. I was flabbergasted. It just made me so nervous, until I did it. But, of course it is like that for everything: driving, dating, and getting a real job. You are so nervous before; it seems so weird. What if you mess up? It is all so new. But then you do it and then get used to it and as with driving and the rest if just falls into place. Steeks will be the same.
Now there are a few good articles out there on steeks (not a lot but some good ones) but the info available on non-natural fibers is virtually nonexistent. There are sources that say you can do it but I didn't find any that showed how or gave a good run down. So I set off to do that. I knit up a few swatches to practice my mad experimentation on in Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky (80% acrylic, 20% wool). I knew this would make a good swatch to experiment with because we had the wool to snag and prevent quick unraveling and then the acrylic to serve as the control in our non-natural steeking experiment. I set to work.
I figured in my research that I would need to machine sew along the edge of my steek but getting the stitch length just right and then determining if machine stitching would hold would be my issues. First, I tried just a regular stitch length that I would use sewing quilting cotton. I quickly determined that that would not hold. The yarn was too chunky and the stitch was too long. Generally every other row was caught up and secured. I dialed it down the smallest stitch length and pulling the knitted swatch widthwise a bit so I could see the bars between stitches, I sewed really slowly. I left a long tail of upper thread and bobbin thread at the beginning and end to knot at the top and bottom of my stitch line to secure the cast on and bind off. The slow sewing, smaller stitch length and really watching where the needle landed each time helped profusely to make sure each stitch was secure. After sewing another line of stitching down the other side, I was ready to cut my steek. I used my super sharp sewing shears to get the job done right. Afterward I picked up stitches along the side and knit a small facing to hide any frayed ends on the cut side. I tested my swatch thoroughly, pulling, tugging and finally giving it to my toddler to have at. The stitches held and the machine stitching did not significantly affect the movement of the sweater.
I am so pleased to have gotten my first steeking experience out of the way and feel no fear in using them in the future. I am emboldened now and find myself daydreaming about how to incorporate them into all my future projects. I can see myself seriously cutting down on my purling!
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