Knitting - Learning about Steeks - What is it? - Edey's Vintage and Current Needlework
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Edey's Vintage and Current Needlework

Knitting - Learning about Steeks - What is it?

 I am so thankful for the internet!  It has enabled me and millions of others to learn about once common, but now almost forgotten techniques in needlework and crafts that  have been lost over the years. Without the generous sharing of others on the internet, these techniques would be unknown except for only a few.

One technique that I have been learning about is "steeking" or "steeks".

This technique is used in knitting so that a project can be knit in the round in a tube shape on double point needles or a circular needle, then cut open later so that sleeves, or a button placket, or a V-neck can be added to the design. There are other applications for this technique other than these listed here. One way to do the steeks is that extra stitches are worked into the body of the tube where the cutting will take place so that the size and design of the body aren't changed. The area to be cut is secured before cutting, usually by
machine stitching, but older techniques describe knotting off the cut ends against the body of the project.

Here are some excellent websites and tutorials to explain Steeking: 

The Knitting Harpy - And Now for Something a Little Different: Steeking

Getting Stitched on the Farm - It's a Steek Tutorial

Knitty.com - Norwegian Steeking Technique

 Knitting in the round is faster than row by row flat knitting; there isn't any stopping to turn the rows and work back by purling. Many people don't like to purl, myself included. I find that my hands ache more when working on a project with purled rows. I don't have that problem when just using the knit stitch.

An example:  A knitter wants to make a cardigan - a button up the front sweater. The sweater body is knit as a tube, either top down or bottom up, the shoulder stitches connected, then in the designated area of the steek the stitches are secured where it will be cut, then the cutting is done, opening up the sweater. The button placket area is then finished off with a knitted border or a ribbon stitched to the cut end and turned under. In the sleeve area the steek is cut open and the sleeve, which has been knit in the round separately, is added into the opening.  

Now whenever I do a project that would normally be made flat, my first thoughts go to thinking of ways to make it by knitting in the round first and using "steeks" to open it up and/or finish it off. Scarves, shawls,  mittens with a separate thumb inserted, bags with a pocket added; the possibilities are endless of what can be knit in the round. I was very excited when I found this technique - where has it been all my life! 

Enjoy!  Edey


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