EEK! You Want Me to STEEK???
A little while back I wrote about Kyle Kunnecke and his new course Introduction to Stranded Knitting. Because we don’t like to do things halfway (and because we really like Kyle), we kept him tied up and imprisoned here as our honored guest for a whole week, filming a few other courses. If you know Kyle, you know he digs all things stranded colorwork. And if you know anything about stranded colorwork, you have probably heard of this thing called steeking. “C’mon, Kyle,” we said. “Do a steeking course,” we said. “It’ll be fun!” And Kyle agreed.
In Fearless Steeking: Cut Your Knitting, Add Zippers, & Create Beautiful Finished Fabric, Kyle teaches you all about a funny-sounding word. A steek is a sacrificial column of extra stitches in a colorwork pattern that separates two sections of knitting. You knit your pattern in the round, then cut along that column to create a flat fabric. Steeking is a traditional part of Fair Isle knitting. It’s also one of those topics that Freaks. Knitters. Out.
Appropriately enough, Kyle starts his steeking course with the immediate and pressing question of why the hell anyone would want to cut a steek in the first place, and discusses how there are indeed times when cutting is the best (and easiest) plan of action. Do you want to knit a Fair Isle cardigan back and forth, purling a colorwork pattern on the wrong side and wrestling with floats, or would you rather knit a tube and make a simple cut at the end? If traditional Fair Isle isn’t your thing, steeks are an elegant solution for managing colorwork with self-striping yarns: you don’t have to divide and knit each side of something separately, so your stripes are all the same width.
Once he makes the case for steeking, Kyle then talks about using the right materials, like how grabby wool and ultra sharp scissors are a must. To make sure you are suitably prepared, he reviews the basics of stranded colorwork. Warmed up, he then cuts a tube of stranded colorwork right before your eyes. If you are afraid of steeks, this part is arguably a letdown: there is no wild explosion of yarn, no snaking strands going everywhere, no general anarchy. The cut piece of knitting just sort of lays there, waiting for Kyle to do something to it.
Now keep in mind that if your knitting is going to do more than lie there, it’s a good idea to reinforce the edges prior to cutting or there will be anarchy soon enough. Kyle covers two ways to do this: with both a simple handsewn and a fancy crocheted steek. AND he shows you how to add a zipper, which is a great reason to steek in the first place.
Steeking doesn’t happen in a vacuum, so the course includes a project: a really cute zippered bag. Kyle uses the pouch to walk you through each step, from reading charts and knitting the pattern, to reinforcing and cutting the steek itself, to adding the zipper to finish your pouch.
If you really like stranded colorwork but have blanched at working steeks, or just want to add a new tool to your knitting kit, check out Kyle’s new course. You’ll be able to chat with other students and post photos of your finished assignments and bag project for full bragging rights.
Kyle’s Fearless Steeking is available as an on-demand course you can watch at your own pace, anywhere, any time, on any device.
More About Steeking!