When Steek Happens

If you have done Fair Isle knitting, or worked a stranded knitting project, or just know someone who has, you’ve probably heard of this thing called a steek. Steeks are terrifying monsters, all claws and sharp teeth and dripping jaws, and they feed on the screams of hapless knitters. Actually, steeks are none of those things: a steek is nothing more than a column of extra stitches in your knitting, albeit sacrificial ones.

When working Fair Isle or stranded knitting, it’s a lot easier to knit your project in the round, then cut your knitting to turn it into a cardigan, or make a sleeve opening. Since you can only cut your knitting once, it would be a total bummer to slice into that lovely sheep or bird or cactus pattern you’ve just knit. This is where steeks come in very handy. Knitting those extra stitches creates a buffer zone you can safely cut, leaving your actual project untouched.

In Fearless Steeking: Cut Your Knitting, Add Zippers, & Create Beautiful Finished Fabric, Kyle Kunnecke teaches you all about this funny-sounding word. Below are 3 tips to help you make the cut.

1. Go for a Test Drive.

Understandably nervous about hacking into something that you’ve spend weeks knitting? Try it with a swatch first! Use a simple chart like the one above to whip up a small tube of stranded knitting, and then practice making the cut.

2. Be a Blockhead.

Before you cut, you absolutely need to block your knit first. No ifs, ands, or buts. The last things you want are wonky edges or uneven stitches messing you up. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this practice swatch before and after I blocked it. Which would you rather use?

3. Choose Your Tools.

Sharp pointy scissors are a must. Rather than hack wildly at your knitting, snip no more than a few stitches at a time, and makes sure you are cutting through both layers of stands. You’ll feel in control and pretty pleased with yourself as you see a nice clean cut emerge, just waiting for you to tidy it up.

If you really like stranded colorwork but have blanched at working steeks, or if you just want to add a new tool to your knitting kit, check out Kyle’s new course. Best of all, you’ll be able to knit this adorable little bag in the process.

Kyle’s Fearless Steeking is available as an on-demand course you can watch at your own pace, anywhere, any time, on any device.

Happy steeking!

Want to learn more? Check out these resources:

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