Monday, February 13, 2012

Half term - Monday

This is what we made today:

Dan Lepard's "One-a-day cookies" from his book Short and Sweet.  We think it is impossible to eat only one of these, so ours are called 2-a-day cookies (although we get twice as many cookies from his recipe mix as he claims it will make, so that's fair).  And:

a little heart (pin)cushion, made by Mary using new sewing machine and hand stitches.  And:

padded coat hanger for sweaters and delicate bits e.g.

Not bad for one day which also contained a good deed involving lots of cardboard boxes and, will soon include a session at aerobics.   So, that is Monday...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Steeking? A knitting term, so look away now if you must!

I am in the middle of a blanket, knitted in Shetland wool, designed by the very talented Kate Davies.  The amazing design composed of rams and ewes (or yowes as Kate tells us they are called by Shetlanders) is knitted in the round so that all rows are knit, and the pattern flows nicely.  With the aid of a steek - a narrow extra band of knitting that is not included in the main pattern - the fabric can be cut and laid flat for borders to be included.
central checkered area  =  steek

Steeking is a very useful technique for colour-patterned knitting because it means the knitter never needs to do pesky purling in the main pattern.  Garments are knitted as tubes and then cut to create armholes and necklines, or front openings for waistcoats, cardigans or jackets.  It is a part of the knitting traditions of many countries.   The most terrifying thing about it for first-time steekers is that you have to cut the beautiful piece of patterned fabric that you have spent ages creating.  Yes, CUT it, really, with scissors!

There seem to be a number of methods and lots of advice available in books and on the internet for those brave/mad enough to want to try it.   I know some people like to follow video tutorials on you tube, but my most useful sources have been Elizabeth Zimmerman's books and Eunny Chang's tutorial series.  

My first steeking experience was with a cardigan knitted in Norwegian wool to a design by Solveig Hisdal (Poetry in Stitches).  Once the fabric was cut I followed the instructions as given, which produced very neat little facings to cover the cut ends:

  It was a success, and gave me the courage to try out other methods and garments.

Next, a Fair Isle slipover from Folk Vests (Interweave Knits) by Cheryl Oberle , where once cut and machine-sewn the steeks just seem to stay firm even though visible.

I had thought about covering them with sewn-on binding or tape, but they don't appear to need it even after wearing.  This experience bears out Eunny's comments that some Shetlanders don't even bother reinforcing because the wool holds together without it.  Fine for real Shetland wool then, but don't try it with anything less.

Back to the blanket.  Kate's pattern tells us to use the crochet reinforcement method for this.  I tried it thus:

and promptly ripped the crochet out.  I am with EZ on this - knitting and crochet really don't mix!  Back to the machine sewing method:

and all's well again.  Now for the (long) border....