Master Knitter Posts, Techniques

Steek Sandwich

Sounds yummy, right? 😉

In actuality it is a method of dealing with steeks which hides the steek inside a few rows of knitting.  Stitches are picked up through the fabric on the right side, and then stitches are picked up from the loops on the wrong side, and a few rows of knitting are worked on both sides, completely enclosing the steek.  The two flaps are then knit together, and the rest of the buttonband (or whatever) is finished.

Here is a much more in depth post on the method, and is the reference I used in my researching.  Kate Davies’ series on steeks is excellent – my post today will be a very quick overview on how I did my steek sandwich, so go to her website if you want more details!

Here’s how I did my steek sandwiches.  My gauge worked out perfectly to allow me to pick up stitches at every row on the buttonbands.  Be sure you check your gauges, though – yours might not work out like that.  You’ll adjust the number of rows you pick up depending on your gauge ratio.  (If you don’t know what I mean by that – that’s a lesson for another blog post!)

Stitches picked up on every row – exactly between the steek stitches and the pattern stitches.

You have to be sure to pick the yarn up from behind the work, and through to the front, so that the working yarn carries across the back.  This is what forms the loops you’ll use to pick up stitches on the back.  It also reinforces the steek edge even more, since it locks all your floats!

Then, using a second circular needle, you turn your work and pick up each loop on the back and knit into it.  (Pull the yarn snug when working the first one.) This can be tricky, because the loops are pretty tight.  (You could help this by using a larger needle for picking up the front stitches, and then switching to the smaller needles for the rest of the buttonband, but I didn’t do that with my sweater.)  I used a dpn to gently lift each loop, and then my working needle to knit into it. You must pick up one extra stitch on the back to have your stitch counts the same on both sides.

(Also – I did my steek sandwiches slightly different from how Kate Davies showed. I didn’t want to have to seam the sides of my ‘sandwich’, so I worked my sandwich like a giant tube – knitting first the front and then carrying the yarn to the back, snugly, and then knitting the back. As opposed to knitting all the rows on the front first and then knitting the rows on the back.)

Loops on back, each one picked up and knit.

I worked four more rows total, front and back – ending with the wrong side completed. Now, you have two circular needles – one with the front stitches and one with the back stitches.

Front and back knit together.

You will use your front circular needle, and knit the front and the back stitches together across the row (as though you were doing a three needle bind off – but without the binding off.) That finishes the sandwich!

Front and back knit together (back/wrong side view) See how the steek is hidden – doesn’t that look nice??

Then you finish off the buttonband however you wish – I did corrugated ribbing for my sweater, but you could do an i-cord, or some other edge for the finishing.

I forgot to take a close up shot of the finished band – this picture will have to do! So here’s how the band looks when complete.

So that’s how I did my steek sandwiches for my sweater! It adds a bit of bulk to the edge, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing at the buttonbands, where you want some stability.

I hope this was informative! Happy Knitting!!

(Oh – and PS: my box arrived safely in Ohio today! That’s one less thing for me to worry about! I’ll try to patiently wait for it to come back to me…) 😉

Master Knitter Posts, Techniques, WiP Posts

Preparing to Steek

I promised my guild that I would videotape my cutting the steeks for my sweater, so I figured to be thorough I’d do a whole post on the process. 🙂  Stay tuned for the actual video – this post will walk you through leading up to the actual cutting.

Just FYI – this is a picture heavy post!

For those that don’t already know, a steek is a section of knitting that you are planning on cutting in your knitting.  You will use steeks when knitting things that are easier to knit in the round.  Fair Isle (and stranded) knitting is very often knit in the round (it doesn’t have to be, though!) – so steeks are commonly used in those types of knitting.  Why do you need to cut?  Well, if you want a cardigan you have to have an opening in the front.  You’ll need openings for the sleeves as well.  And if you want a v-neck or scoop neck, you’ll need a neckline opening, too.   These are all places you can use steeks.  You’ll essentially knit a large tube for the body of your sweater, and then cut it open for the front, and cut open the armholes and the neckline.

I don’t usually reinforce my steeks – they don’t typically need it if you’re using a ‘sticky’ wool, and if you make an intrinsically sturdy steek of about 8 or more stitches wide and a checkerboard pattern.  For this sweater, however, I used a very narrow steek of just 3 stitches on each side, and I used a stripe pattern.  The reason for this is because I’m going to use a ‘sandwich’ technique when I pick up the stitches for the buttonband and the collar.  (I’ll post about that when I get to that part of the sweater, too.)  This technique requires the steek to be very narrow, since the steek will end up hidden inside a row of knitting.  Because of this, I decided to reinforce all my steeks just to be extra sure they aren’t going anywhere. 🙂

Also, my steeks are all left with live stitches at the top, on holders – they need to be kept separate from the body of knitting, so I did not bind them off when the other stitches were bound off.

To reinforce, you need a small crochet hook and some yarn (I used the dark green color I’m going to be using on the buttonband.)  Place a slip knot on the crochet hook, and insert your hook directly above the cast on edge of the steek – two stitches in from the center of the steek.

Steek ready to be reinforced. (it’s upside down -the cast on edge is shown at top.)
Crochet hook inserted below cast on edge.
Slip stitch *over* the cast on edge to secure it.

I’m working on the left side of the steek here, so the hook goes in from the left to the center- under the right leg of the second stitch from the center, and the left leg of the stitch directly in from the center (I have 3 stitches on each side of the center in this steek.)

Crochet hook inserted into the two legs of the stitches to be secured.

Yarnover the hook, and pull through all three loops on the hook to make a slip stitch.

Yarnover the hook…
Pull through all three loops.

Repeat in this manner up the steek – getting every single row secured.

Next row…
And so on…

When you get to the top, the steek stitches are on a holder. Take the left three steek stitches and place them all on the hook.

Three steek stitches on yarn holder.
Hook placed through the three live stitches.
Yarnover the hook and pull through all 4 loops on the hook…

Then yarnover once more and pull all the way through. Cut your yarn.

Final steek reinforcement on one side.

You need to repeat this process on the other side – but you need to work in towards the center from the right. So you’ll start with the live stitches at the top.

Three live stitches at right top of steek.
Place slip knot on hook, and put hook through the three stitches.
Yarnover the hook and pull through all 4 loops on hook.

You will then be securing the left leg of the second stitch from the center and the right leg of the stitch to the right of center.

Insert hook in two legs to be secured…

Yarnover the hook and pull through all 3 loops on hook. Continue down the steek.

Hook inserted in next row.

Continue all the way down, ending by slip stitching over the cast on edge to secure it. Yarnover once more and pull all the way through. Cut your yarn.

Top of steek when finished.

You are now ready to cut!!

DSC08323details copy
Cutting line – you must be sure to NOT cut your crochet reinforcement.

Stay tuned for my steeking video – I should be posting it soon!

I’m blocking my sweater today, so hopefully I’ll be able to start the finishing in a day or two! I’m nearing the finish line….

FO Posts

FO: Venezia Cardigan (and Forethought Pocket walkthrough!)

Here she is, all done!!

Finished Cardigan

Pattern: Venezia Pullover by Eunny Jang (with major modifications, see below)
Needles: US 2.5, US2, US1.5
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette in colors Cyan, Caribbean, Grizzly Heather, Bark, Bison
Size: the 39.75 size (I knew I wanted a loose fit)
Started: July 27, 2012 (during Olympic Opening Ceremonies)
Finished: Main body finished 8/12 during Closing Ceremonies, finishing work all done by 8/18
Modifications: Lots!! The basic big changes were that I converted it to a v-neck cardigan, altered the armhole shaping, and added pockets.

Here’s what I did, step by step:

  1.  I started with a provisional cast on for the bottom hem (I knew I wanted to do the hem and neckband all at the same time), and I started knitting at the chart directions.
  2. I added about an inch to the bottom – which entailed figuring out where to start on the chart to keep me lined up with the pattern notes (I ended up starting on Row 1 of the chart.)
  3. I added a center front steek for the v-neck cardigan.  I eliminated the center front stitch, and added 10 stitches for my center steek.
  4. After about 5 inches, I added placeholder stitches for pockets: pockets were placed at 18 stitches from center front, and were 28 stitches wide. (You simply switch to waste yarn and knit the stitches where you want your pocket with the waste yarn.  Then slip those stitches back to your working needle and knit the piece as usual with your working yarn.  You now have a section of stitches that will be easy to pick up afterwards!)

    Placeholder thread
    Placeholder stitches for pocket
  5. I began the v-neck shaping at around 13.5 inches from bottom. (Decrease one stitch each side of v-neck every 3rd row 15x, then every 4th row 10x.)
  6. I worked both sleeves in round separate, and then joined them to the body at the beginning of the armhole (to avoid steeks and seams on the sleeves and the body.)
    8/9 progress
  7. The armhole shaping on the sleeves and the body was altered to make it less bulky than the original pattern on the body side.  Armhole shaping was as follows: put center 21 stitches each underarm (body and sleeves) on waste yarn. Then 1 stitch decreases each side (sleeve and body) every row 6x, then every other row 6x, then every 4th row 3x. Work body straight, but work one more decrease every 4th row on sleeves. Then work decreases on sleeves every other row 5x, and every row 8x. Then 2 double decrease rows on sleeves – (back and forth) while steeking the remaining body rows.

    Top of sleeve cap - steeks on top of shoulder
    Steeks on top of shoulder – top of sleeve is bound off.
  8.  I bound off the shoulder stitches and seamed them – I wanted a sturdy shoulder seam.  Then the top of the sleeve cap was seamed to the shoulder.
  9. The neckline and hem were picked up all the way around.  I used a size 1.5 needle at the neckline and front, and a size 2 needle on the hem,  and I picked up pretty much every stitch on the front and neckline. I then switched to a size 2 needle for the whole thing after the first row. I mitered the bottom corners (increase one on each side of center 2 stitches of corner – every row) and at the back neck (only decreased once at each neck side and only every other row) and placed random increases every other row at the point of v-neck to make the v-neck pivot out. Then after I knitted about 10 rows, I reversed the process to get the foldover hem – decreasing at bottom corner miters and v-neck, and increasing at back neck pivots.

    Inside V-neck top
    Top of V-neck from (inside)
  10. The pockets were knitted: I picked up 28 stitches above the placeholder and knitted about an inch, then put these stitches on placeholder yarn.
    Picking up pocket stitches
    Picking up stitches above and below placeholder stitches
    Knitting top inside portion
    Knitting the top inside portion

    I picked up 28 stitches below the placeholder and knitted 15 rows for turnover hem – and knitted it together with the first row.

    Starting to knit front hem and inside of pocket
    Knitting the hem
    Top hem is sewn down
    Top hem is sewn down

    Top pocket hem

    Then I continued knitting the rest of pocket lining flat (65 rows – about 6.5 inches) and grafted the end to the top flap I did previously.
    Pocket flap

    grafting inside pocket
    Grafting the inside of pocket together

    Then I seamed the sides of the pocket and sewed down the hem.
    Side pocket seam

    Pocket from inside

    Pocket from front
    Finished pocket from front
  11. I then wove in all the ends (mostly on the sleeves) and blocked the sweater before sewing down the foldover neckline/hem.  And lastly I sewed on the clasps and duplicated stitched my name on the inside hem.  I plan on duplicate stitching ‘Olympics 2012’ as well, but haven’t gotten around to that yet. 🙂
Bottom mitered corner
Bottom mitered corner (inside)
One side of clasps
Clasps on one side

Now I can’t wait for the cooler weather to get here so I can wear it!!

Finished Cardigan

Happy Knitting!!


Ravellenic Games – The End!

So, the Olympic Games came to a close last night – and so did the Ravellenic Games!  The Olympics were fantastic, and I will have so many good memories from these games!

I barely squeaked by the finish line with my sweater:

Finish line Photo!

It still needs some finishing touches, though, so it’s not technically ‘finished’, but I figured it was finished enough to cross the finish line with it!

It still needs the ends woven in (just on the sleeves mostly – the front band steek hides all the other ends!)  The hem needs sewn down (I’ll show you a detailed shot of that once I do it – I knitted a mitered foldover band/hem that will completely enclose the steek in the front!), and the pockets need to be knitted (I’ll show you that too when I do them – afterthought pockets!!), and the clasps need to be attached.  Gee, that’s an awful lot more that needs to be done!  I think I’ll use the Paralympic Games as my ‘finishing’ time. 🙂

I’ll post more details about my modifications later, once it’s all the way done, but here’s some of the details of the pattern:

Pattern: Venezia Pullover by Eunny Jang (modified to be a v-neck cardigan)
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette in 5 colors (Cyan, Carribean, Grizzly Heather, Bark, Bison)
Needles: US2.5, US2, US1.5
Started: July 27th during Opening Ceremonies
Finished: (not really finished, but crossed the finish line) August 12th 10:30pm (right before the Cauldron was extinguished on US tv!)

Logged about 120 hours over the 17 days!  Whew!

I think my gauge was much looser on the sleeves and the top part of the sweater, so I’m worried about the fit in the bottom half.  I’m hoping blocking takes care of it, without making the top half way too big!!  Also, I’m not thrilled with the sleeve caps, but again, I hope blocking it smooths the seam there.

I’ll be working on finishing her up over the next week, so I’ll post more updates as I do.  I’m also planning on pulling my Master Knitter Level 2 swatches back out and working on those, so I’ll do my best to update you all on that as well. 🙂

Happy Knitting!