There are many firsts in a knitter's life, but steeking still seems to hold a special kind of fear factor for many of us. This was no exception for me. I'm a confident knitter, but cutting the fabric I just spent weeks knitting...really?
After years of avoiding the the first cut, I finally gave it a go. The reason was the relatively recent start of a love affair with lopi sweaters, started with my Strokkur by Ysolda. A brilliant pattern, highly recommended as a first colour-work project, as well as a fun pattern for experienced knitters. Ysolda's chosen construction method is bottom-up and includes short-rows which make a real difference in the fit of the sweater.
I immediately wanted to cast on another one, but I'm more a cardigan kinda girl so I needed to to learn to take the next step and turn a lopi-sweater into a cardigan.
Ragga Eiriksdottir's Craftsy class for the "The Top-Down Icelandic Sweater" seemed ideal and I really like the "Maren" pattern.
Unlike Strokkur, Maren is constructed from the top and you start with the fun part, the colour-work. The sweater was quickly knitted up and I followed the instructions to apply a crochet edging to prepare for the cut.
The knit stitches either side of the purl stitch are secured with a crochet edge, then the sweater is turned inside out and the cut. Warning: you might find the next images upsetting...:-)
Once the sweater was cut, it became clear the it would not just fall apart. The crochet edge neatly secured the stitches - success!
Next up was securing the steek's edge with some tape.
I used 25mm polyester tape, which was fairly slippery. I'd probably chose a viscose/cotton one next time.
Once the tape is secured, the buttons were sewn into the desired spot and then I added crochet loops to make up for the lack of button-holes.
(apologies for the varying image quality, these were taken with my phone).
My first attempt at steeking was a lot of fun and I'll certainly use this technique again. Here my finished cardigan:
Go on and try this yourself, it only takes some good instructions and a little bit of courage.
It's worth pointing out that there are other steeking techniques, some require the steek to be secured with a sewing machine.
When you knit with lopi, live stitches remain in place even when you remove your needles and it's a bit cumbersome to frog as the fibres seems to interlock automatically. That's why the crochet method works well with this yarn.
It's probably not advisable to try this method with very smooth yarns!