Technical Tuesday: A Peek at Steeks

One of the first classes I signed up for at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago was steeking. It was something I had always been interested in because I love knitting in the round. Who doesn’t? It would be so much easier to knit up a sweater in a pullover style then just cut right up the centre to create a cardigan.

In Chicago I got the basics and learned about all the different things you could make by steeking. You can create colourwork throws in the round and steek one edge, vests that are knit in the round similar to a cone and the arms, neck and front steeked. Even this bachelor tea cozy.

Even though Chicago was five months ago, I hadn’t used this technique yet. I guess I was just putting it off, or one of the projects I had lined up wasn’t going to work with this technique. I have found the perfect opportunity to steek and I am going to walk you through the process!

Paul's First Sweater

You may remember the first sweater I ever made, it was made from Rowan yarn in red. I used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s seamless hybrid sweater pattern; I actually had to tour around looking for the book ‘Knitting Without Tears’ in order to get this pattern! Luckily I found it, I started it and finished it in short order. The Rowan yarn I used was very thick, I remember I wanted something I could knit up fast. I was stilla relatively new knitter and didn’t have the patience to spend knitting something for weeks. I think this one only took me a few days.

I now know, that Paul is a cardigan person, not a pullover person, so I steeked this sweater in hopes that it would actually get some wear.

Complete Steek

First thing is first when steeking! You need to decide where you want to put the steek. I just aimed for the middle of the neckline and marked it just to see if it was centered. If you knew how many stitches you cast on, you can always do the math to find the exact centre or count the stitches. If you are knitting a garment with the purpose of being steeked, you can insert a couple purl bumps in order to mark where to cut. After everything is centered and marked, you must join the stitches on either side of your markers with a chain of single crochet.

Crochet Steek

I usually suggest you use a lighter weight yarn then the one you knitted your garment from. It makes the edge less bulky. The video below is how to single crochet an edge to your knitting. This is the exact same thing you want to do, except in the middle of your sweater.

Say the image below is your knitting; the Blue ‘V’ is where you are going to cut. The circles are where you are going to crochet the stitches together.

Steek Info

You will slip your crochet hook underneath and crochet the L together just like in the video. Now, it will look raised and slightly ugly, but that is okay. You are going to fold that under and will never see it. I promise!

A note I would like to make about cutting is, use small scissors and cut slowly. If you look closely, the stitch you are cutting into has a small ladder running up though the middle. If you cut the ladder, you are not going to catch any of the other stitches.

Steek Cut

After you cut up the center, fold the edge over and do a whip stitch along the edge to hold it down, depending on the thickness of your yarn you can use yarn or thread.

This video is perfect because when you pick up the ‘small amount of fabric’ you can simply pick up a purl bump and it WILL be completely invisible.

After you’ve finished turning the fold over, you simply have to install the zipper. The video isn’t the best, but the description is not too bad.

Things to take note of would be the type of yarn you use in your garment. Anything particularly slippery will not work well, such as silk. The more prone the wool is to felting, the better it will hold together. The yarn I used was Drift by Rowan, in the colour fire. It is made from 100% merino wool, and it is a chunky roving yarn, it doesn’t felt much easier.

Below is a video with a different technique for steeking, I haven’t tried it, but you can see different ways to knit things in order to steek them afterwards.