Posted by: christinelaennec | October 3, 2015

Constructing a Norwegian knitted jacket

For those of you who are interested (I realise this will be a minority of readers, sorry!), here is how I put together my New Leaf Jacket.  I learned a few things from this project, which I have listed after this wee “slide show” of photos.

Steeking...

Steeking…  I used the crochet method to do my steeks.

Making the cut... one of them anyway.

Making the cut… one of them anyway.  The two rows of crochet (using gold-coloured sock yarn) keep the yarn from fraying.

Steeks are cut, neckline outline is basted.

Then I basted the outline for the front neckline.

Neckline of the front has been cut.

With green cotton thread, I backstitched two rows close together along where I intended to sew the facing.  Then I cut the neckline, leaving a small selvedge.  I did the same along the back neckline, which was a shallow dip to the centre.

Pattern for fabric facing of the neckline is made and cut, and strips for facing the front opening have been cut.

Next I made a pattern for the fabric facing of the neckline, and cut the fabric; I also cut fabric strips for facing the front opening.

Checking that the fabric facing will lie flat before I trim the seams and turn it inside.

Before I sewed the fabric facing to the knitting, I checked that it would lie flat when stitched and turned to the inside.

Facings sewn on opening down front. Tilly helping, as always!

Facings pinned on the neckline and the front openings. Tilly was helping, as always!  You can see the two sleeves near the top of the photo.

Having carefully checked that the two sides were the same length, I sewed the facings along the basting line, then turned them in and hemmed them to the knitted fabric.

Having carefully checked that the two front openings were the same length, I sewed the facings by hand along the basting line, pulling the basting out as I went along.  I then turned the facings inside (overlapping the front opening facing and the neckline facing).  Then I topstitched by hand all around, then hemmed the turned-under edge to the knitted fabric.  I sewed the knitted hem over the facing, just using the same wool.

Sewing the velvet ribbon around the faced edging. Velvet slips as you sew, so careful pinning is necessary to keep it lying smoothly.

Next I sewed the velvet ribbon around the neckline and front openings. Velvet slips as you sew, so careful pinning is necessary to keep it lying smoothly.  I sewed once around using an even stitch, and then sewed around again, placing my stitches in the gaps between the first row of stitches.

Ribbon sewn onto right side around the front openings and neckline. Tilly luxuriating in September sunshine!

The ribbon is sewn onto right side around the front openings and neckline. Once I’d sewn the ribbon along the right-side edge, I made the buttonholes.  To do this, I cut the fabric facing to match the knitted-in buttonholes (doing each as I went), and bound the buttonhole with – surprise! – buttonhole stitch, sewing through all layers.  Here Tilly is luxuriating in September sunshine!

Velvet ribbon has been hemmed on the inside, and buttonholes have been cut in the facing to match the knitted-in buttonholes.

I then hemmed the velvet ribbon on the inside using whipstitch.

Buttonholes, sewn through both fabric facing on the inside, and knitted fabric on the outside.

Close-up of ribbon, buttonholes, facing.

Sewing the sleeve to the steeked armhole.  I did this on the right side, following the basting on the opening and taking it out as I went.

Sewing the sleeve to the steeked armhole. I did this on the right side, following the basting on the opening and taking it out as I went.

Scary moment when I was gently steam pressing the sleeve selvedges and the iron gushed a brown streak on the jacket! I immediately washed it out and hung it up to dry. All was well.

Sleeve seams: the instructions said to fold the knitted selvedge at the top of the sleeves to cover the cut edge of the steeks along the armhole.  This was far too bulky, so I decided to sew each back to its own side.  There was a scary moment when I was gently steam pressing the sleeve selvedges and the iron gushed a brown streak on the jacket! I immediately washed it out and hung the jacket up to dry, inside out. Luckily all was well. 

Once it had dried I whipstitched the knitted selvedge of the sleeve down where it lay on the top of the sleeve, and I stitched the armhole steek down with an X stitch.

Once the jacket had dried, I whipstitched the knitted selvedge of the sleeve down (to the sleeve, using the same colour wool), and I stitched the armhole steek down (to the armhole, using green wool) with an X stitch.  I wouldn’t give myself 10 out of 10 for the X stitch but nevermind, I don’t think any steeking teachers will be inspecting.

The instructions said to fold the knitted facing along the top of the sleeve over the cut edge of the steek. This was far too bulky so I sewed each back to its own side.

Then I sewed on the buttons, and sewed in the last stray threads.

The neckline and buttons.

The neckline and buttons.

Then I wore it!

Finally finished turning over my New Leaf!  September 2015.

Finally finished turning over my New Leaf! September 2015.

I mentioned that this project has made me realise a few things.  They are:

  • I don’t mind steeking, and love knitting colourwork in the round, where steeking is necessary if you want to make a cardigan/jacket.
  • However, I much prefer a knitted-in steek, rather than just making a steek from the knitted fabric.
  • Also, I much prefer to make knitted-on buttonbands and neckline, rather than using fabric – although the finished product in this case brings me great pleasure.
  • And I prefer to knit the sleeves directly onto the armhole steeks, rather than make them separately and join them by sewing.  I know it’s not very fashionable at the moment, but I do like this traditional straight-edged sleeve construction (dropped seam is it called?) for stranded colourwork jackets.
  • I’m less bothered than I was by the slight flare at the bottom of the jacket.  This is caused by the pull of the stranded colourwork that doesn’t start until a few rows farther up.  I don’t know if it would be possible to avoid this pulling-in effect with more careful knitting, but for my own future projects, I think I prefer knitted ribbing at the bottom of a colourwork jacket, rather than this type of picot hem.
  • I realised that while this jacket uses traditional Norwegian construction, the leaf pattern of the colourwork itself is very modern.  Solveig Hisdal explains (in Poetry in Stitches, the book this pattern is from) that she was inspired by the damask fabrics of traditional Norwegian costume.  I very much like the beautiful design, but I learned that it is much more challenging to do stranded colourwork when you have to carry the yarn behind for long sections.  I think in the future I will stick to more traditional types of designs, where the yarn isn’t carried too far behind the work.  Or, if I opt for a modern colourwork design, I will know better what I’m letting myself in for!

The finishing process took me many hours, and although I finished the knitting almost a year ago – and Michael made me very handy blocking frames for the body and the sleeves, thank you Mike! – I was quite right to wait until there was plenty of light in order to tackle the construction.  I planned it out very carefully, took my time, and also found help from June Hemmons Hiatt’s The Principles of Knitting.

So I am pleased and relieved that this project turned out well!  If you’re thinking of doing a project that involves steeking, be assured that knitted fabrics (if made of wool) tend to felt together, and will not drop apart the moment your scissors approach.  It’s a very useful technique indeed.

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Responses

  1. Thank you so much for your very kind reply to my last comment, it warmed my heart and made my day. I am so sorry people didn’t see how hard your girl tried and what an effort 20 minutes can be when feeling so unwell. Wish people were kinder to eachother. My love and best wishes to you and your lovely family. I enjoyed your tour through constructing the new leaf jacket very much, it is a beautiful piece of work indeed. Noticed the door behind your ironing board saying: “reasons to be happy”, what a nice idea. Pam in Norway xx

  2. I’m not a knitting fan, but I really admire the effort you put in to both the making of your Norwegian Knitted Jacket, and the time it must have taken to write this post, with all of its excellent instructions and photos! 🙂

  3. The jacket is beautiful. Thank you for showing a process that I have never seen before.

  4. Just this morning I was reading the directions for knitting a twin sized wool blanket on size 4 or 6 circular needles…forming a tube…that in the end has to be cut to make the blanket flat…horrors! As you calmly described and shared your good photos about the construction of your beautiful jacket in this post, my horrors are soothed, and I can consider trying steeking…someday…maybe 🙂 [I appreciate the view of Tilly and your happy door, also.] Wishing you and yours well, Christine, and sending you my love. xx

  5. I like ‘behind the scenes’ posts and seeing your tricks and techniques. What a lovely jacket and how lovely on you!
    Amalia
    xo

  6. Merci beaucoup pour cette belle leçon de tricot et de couture. Le résultat est splendide !

  7. Makes me feel quite faint!
    I should get you together with my Norwegian friend who knitted a kofte jakke for my children and a succession of traditional snowflake pattern mittens and ‘the best wellie socks ever’ (to quote my son) while they were growing up. Love how Tilly features in the photos!

  8. Wow, you are so very clever your jacket is beautiful. It’s way beyond my understanding, I can just about follow a pattern, although even that is sometimes beyond me as I’m sure you will remember (thanks for the help). I’m glad you have such a passion for your hobby, it makes hard times easier and good times even better! Hope you are feeling better too. x

  9. Thank you Christine – I am an enthusiastic part of your audience for this technical stuff. It was a great revelation to me, some years back, that you can cut into knitted fabric. I just love the colours in your jacket.

  10. It’s just beautiful and involved a lot of work. 🙂

  11. Greetings Christine. I find this subject of steeking fascinating. It’s very interesting to see how your beautiful sweater was made. And, the construction is so professional, too. It’s really a masterpiece! I’m going to ask my Norwegian friends at my Daughters of Norway meeting if they do this type of knitting. Please give my regards to the dear Dafter. Pat xx

  12. Absolutely gorgeous! I’ve long had the notion to knit a Norwegian cardigan but dreaded the thought of doing it on 2 needles having only recently heard of steeking. Thank you so much for this post as it’s truly inspirational and has given me an insight into what l’ll be letting myself in for when I eventually embark on knitting one for myself. 😀

  13. Wow, what an intricate construction process! How interesting to see it all step by step; I can just feeeel the effort in every stitch. I didn’t know you could do knitted-in steeks – not that I’ll be doing any steeking anytime soon, but I do like reading up and finding out about techniques and daydreaming of all the wonderful things one could make 🙂
    This is so beautiful, and will be a treasured piece indeed. Happy belated birthday, and what a nice present for yourself 🙂

  14. Wow, what a labour of love!! Well done! Xx

  15. Oh my goodness, Christine, you must be the most patient person and know!
    If I had gone to all that trouble, I think I mave have framed it and put it on the wall. I have only once knitted a steeked cardigan, for my daughter when she was small with the help of my then neighbour who is Norwegian. Myheartwas in mymouth but she took my dressmaking scissors and “wheeked” through it without a pause. It was lovely but definitely an experience not to be repeated.
    Lovely to see your pulley in action and I like the happy poster on the door.

  16. Thank you everyone for your very kind words. I’m glad if this post has helped some people be less afraid of steeking. It is a wonderful technique, and I would never knit stranded colourwork any other way (except when working with cotton yarns).

    Sakthi, what I meant by “knitted-in steeks” is when the steek is planned for in advance, and a section of 6 or 8 stitches is included in the pattern. You can see that was done down the front of the jacket (green-white-green selvedge on either side of the cutting line). The armholes, on the other hand, didn’t have a row of stitches for cutting, as you can also see in the 4th photo down. I just had to measure (three times!), baste and cut into the knitted fabric.

    Yes, the pulley is a very important feature of our family life! As is the “Reasons to be Happy” poster. As you might imagine, this was the Dafter’s idea, and there is a pen nearby so visitors can add their contributions. It makes for fun reading. The reasons listed currently include things like: “Fairy lights” “Actual faeries” “electricity” “sequins” and “The Walking Dead Seson 5 is out”!


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