Posted by: christinelaennec | July 1, 2016

An armhole steek, and a drawing

Hello again, friends!  The past week has been intensely busy as the Dafter has needed a lot of help and Michael has been working every waking minute hosting an international conference. No prizes for guessing the main topic of conversation.  I haven’t had time to do much for myself, including reading blogs – apologies to my faithful blog-friends.  But here is a wee post about steeking.

First, however, a lovely pen-and-ink drawing that the Dafter is permitting me to share with you.  We have been doing some sorting in her room and this was one of many art pieces that emerged, done when she was 15.  At this point she was not yet studying art in school.

Pen-and-ink drawing by the Dafter when she was 15.

Pen-and-ink drawing of me napping, done by the Dafter when she was 15.

And now to knitting.  The past week I have particularly been following the advice of the great Elizabeth Zimmermann, who counselled:  “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.”  So here are some photos of how I have cut open one of the armhole steeks, and begun the sleeve:

Here is the armhole steek, about to be cut open.

Knitting the Oregon cardigan by Alice Starmore.  Here is the armhole steek, laid flat, about to be cut open.

Starting to cut down the middle.

Starting to cut down the middle.

Cut all the way open now.

Cut all the way open now.

Beginning to pick up stitches along the edge of the steek.

Beginning to pick up stitches along the edge of the steek, starting from the underarm.  The safety pins are to help me count how many I have picked up.  The instructions tell me how to centre the design.

All the stitches have been picked up and I'm ready to begin knitting the sleeve from the shoulder downwards. Note the cut steek isn't doing anything alarming!

All the stitches have been picked up and I’m ready to begin knitting the sleeve from the shoulder downwards. The stitch markers are at the pattern repeats.  I will say that I had some redoing and recounting before I got it right – but that’s fine. Note the cut steek isn’t doing anything alarming, it’s just lying there very obediently!

The sleeve so far - I have moved from the circular needle to double-pointed needles. I am decreasing as per the instructions, each side of the underarm stitch.

The sleeve so far – I have moved from the circular needle to double-pointed needles. I am decreasing as per the instructions, each side of the underarm stitch.  The cardigan’s centre steek is still intact but once I have finished the sleeves, I will cut it and add the buttonbands and neckband.

A closer look. I have to read the chart upside down as I am now knitting top-down.

A closer look. I have to read the chart upside down as I am now knitting top-down.

Peeking inside, you can see the steek stitches are still behaving themselves.

Peeking inside, you can see the steek stitches are still behaving themselves.

I know from experience that the steek stitches will not unravel, because I am using wool, which has a lot of fibres that cling to each other (felting if rubbed too hard).  A steek will work very well with wool, but won’t work with less “clingy” fibres such as cotton or silk.

I won’t do anything with the steek stitches until I have finished the sleeves and the buttonband.  When I get that far, I’ll show you how I finish them.  I will admit I am not a very elegant finisher of steeks.  There are some very good tutorials online of different ways of steeking, and finishing steeks.  I would recommend looking at Kate Davies’ online tutorials for more information.  My point here is that I know the steeks will be just fine, and they will not unravel.  I know this because I forgot to finish one armhole steek in the very first steeked jacket I ever made, back in 2001.  I didn’t discover this omission until nearly a decade later, when I turned it inside out to show someone how it had been put together.  It’s still just lying there obediently, slightly felted down from wear.

I am off on another getaway soon, and I will tell you all about it.  I’m nervous and excited!  It involves the Inner Hebrides and singing….  I wish you all a lovely weekend and beginning of the week to come.  For my American family and friends, happy 4th of July!

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Responses

  1. Wow, that picture is amazing and the knitting project was more than I could imagine.

  2. While Dafter did a brilliant job capturing with her drawing the image of you napping, there is no doubt in my mind that you have not been napping while knitting this beautiful Oregon sweater! Even as you calmly.. reassuringly show me how your sweater is not unraveling as you cut it thanks to the steeking process, this post reads like a wonderfully driven mystery novel to me, Christine 🙂 I hope that you have a safe and fabulous getaway, and that Michael is able to be a voice of calm and reason in a turbulent time without being worn to a frazzle in the process! xx

  3. I am in awe of your knitting skills, a feast for the eyes. The dafter certainly has great artistic skills too. Hope you enjoy your break away.

  4. The cardigan is beautiful! There is no way I would attempt to take a pair of scissors to it. You absolutely are a pro! Have fun on your getaway ~ looking forward to hearing all about it. 🙂 ♥

  5. Happy Fourth of July to you!!! It looks like the rain will hold off just for the parade and then the evening picnic will have to be inside! 35 people inside. Hmmmm…..very thankful for a large house and hoping that everyone will still have fun. 🙂 I love the Dafter’s drawing! It’s beautiful! I hope we see more drawings when she is willing to share. Your cardigan is looking absolutely beautiful! It’s quite a work of art! Have a lovely day!

  6. Thank you everyone! I’m glad you enjoyed the Dafter’s drawing. It isn’t always easy to get her permission to share things on here but I will keep trying. Gracie I laughed at your comment that the photos of beginning the sleeve were like following a murder mystery. I have reason to believe that all will be well in the end! Also, yes Michael has had more work piled on him with emergency meetings about “Brexit”. Keep Calm and Carry On has been repeated by many in the past 10 days. I suppose one good thing about getting older is that you realise that most troubles in life aren’t worth risking your health for, and he does have two weeks off this summer. Onwards!

  7. Oooh, I know fine well the steek stitches will stay flat, but I never cease to be amazed! The Dafter’s drawing of you is beautiful; you’ll have to get negotiating some more and put up more of her art. Was there not a photography summer project? And a belated happy 4th of July!

  8. I’m just doing some blog catching up after my sailing trip away. Absolutely fascinating! As I was reading and looking at the pics of the cutting stage I found I was actually holding my breath incase it all started falling apart!!! I’m really inspired to give this technique a try as I love knitting in the round and this way I can knit a cardigan that way. Thanks so much for sharing and I’m looking forward to seeing how the steels are finished off. The Dafter’s drawing is beautiful- such talent:)

    • How funny that you felt such suspense! Steeking is a fantastic technique for colourwork because you are never working on the wrong side. I will post more about the making of this cardigan as I go along. Thanks also for the compliment about the Dafter’s drawing, I will pass that on!


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