Wendy's Knitting Blog

Ad nauseum running commentary on my knitting.
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Birth of a Fair Isle
Steek This

Happy Friday, Bloggers!

Not a whole lot of progress last night -- Real Life got in the way a bit. But there's a photo here. Wanna see a closeup of the neck steek? Look here. Sorry that this is a somewhat crappy little photo -- I took it in low light.

Yesterday Robin asked a question in my comments about Ann Feitelsen's steeking technique. Sorry Robin -- I don't have her book nor have I ever seen it (hanging my head in shame).

Robin says:

She has you put 12 stitches at the underarm on a holder, cast on 12 for the steek and side stitches and continue on...the confusing thing to me was that she never said "count over 12 stitches on your chart and continue to knit", she just said "continue on"....I am assuming that I was supposed to count over on my chart, because if I wanted the pattern to line up with the previous rows, I had to."

Robin, your interpretation is correct. You need to count over 12 on your chart when you get to the other side of the steek to make the patterns line up.

More about Steeks

Kate asked in a comment about what is involved adjusting a pattern to do steeks for the armhole.

In my sweater, the steeks are part of the pattern. All fair isles done in jumperweight (fingering) shetland wool are steeked pretty much the same way. You put the stitch that is at the underarm on a holder and cast on 10 stitches -- an edge stitch, 8 steek stitches, and another edge stitch. The edge stitches are always worked in the background color and the steek stitches themselves are done by alternating the colors used on that round of knitting.

Now . . . how do you your steeks depends a lot on what yarn you're using. Shetland wool is fine and very hairy and stitcks to itself well, particularly when you steam it with an iron. When you cut the steek down the center and pick up stitches for the sleeve along the edge stitches, the steek obediently folds over and lies down all by itself -- just like a well-trained dog. After you've completed the sleeve you trim the steek to a width of two stitches and lightly stitch it down. It will never unravel, even after years.

If you are using a smooth yarn (and a larger gauge) you need to do your steeks differently, because the yarn doesn't have the right properties to make a fair isle steek work -- a smooth yarn won't stitck to itself properly. If you're using "fatter" yarn, the steek will be too bulky, too. In this case you need to do a Norwegian style steek where you just knit the body in a tube (doing nothing different at the underarm), then use a sewing machine to machine stitch on either side of where you're going to cut open the armhole. You would knit the sleeve separately (in the round) with a facing at the top of the sleeve and set it in the cut armhole, sewing the facing over the cut edge.

It sounds a little overwhelming, but I can direct you to a couple of great resources. My buddy, Geane Helfrich, has written a great piece on knitting and assembling a Norwegian sweater. You can find it here.

Another must see is Flor in Brazil's website -- she has step by step photos of cutting and setting in sleeves here.

And you can join my Norwegian knitting list here.

Lots of list members have been cutting steeks for years now and we're always happy to offer guidance and support!

Birth of a Fair Isle
Front Neck Steek!

Yep, finally got to the front neck steek. Put the stitches for the front neck on a length of yarn, cast on for a steek and started the front neck shaping. This is how it looked right after I cast on the steek stitches.

And lookie! Look what I got in the mail yesterday right here. Ten skeins of Brown Sheep Naturespun in Arctic Moss -- a little greener in person than shows up in my digital photo. Don't know what I'm gonna make with it yet . . .

Birth of a Fair Isle
Yeah, I'm still working on it

You know how you feel like you're never going to finish something sometimes? I always go through this mid-project -- I like to think of it as the "Oh my Gawd will it ever end?" syndrome.

Well, the progress photo is here. Yippee.

Started the second sock of my current pair yesterday. I'm fondling the ball of yarn, finding the center to pull the yarn out. The skein pukes out a huge blob of tangled yarn and it takes me 20 minutes to get it all untangled. Doncha hate when that happens??

I made a blog button for this here blog -- check it out in the left column. Feel free to take it to link to my blog should you so desire! I found a few of your buttons so I plopped them down here with links, but if others of you have a button you'd like to offer up for your link, lemmee know!

Birth of a Fair Isle
. . . and on and on . . .

Sort of at the boring part here. I haven't reached the neck steeks yet. I stopped early last night due to some mild hand pain. Don't want it escalating into major hand pain! Check out my progress here

And here's an extra treat -- check out my buddy Geane's knitting site here. She knits awesome fair isles and Norwegian sweaters!

Birth of a Fair Isle
Steeking on and on

And I continue to steek. Got a lot done this weekend. My lovely spokesmodel, Isolde, is seen here showing my progress.

And here is a closeup of one of the steeks.

I've got 16 more rounds until I can start the front neck steek. Then things will get exciting!


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