Steek Question

I've been working on my first sweater that involves steeks. I really wanted to machine reinforce them, but ended up not being able to figure out how to use a sewing machine and so hand sewed them up.

Now, the problem is that my hand sewing skills are better than those of a drunk hippopotamus with a lobotomy, but not much better. I'm really worried about my reinforcements coming loose, and in fact I've already noticed one stitch where that is happening.

Everything I've read says that you should wait until the entire garment is finished, even blocked, before sewing down the steek flaps. I can see that being preferable if there is no danger of them coming undone, but I'm going to be uneasy until I have them secured. Is it really that bad to pick up the stitches, knit an inch or so, and then whipstitch the steek flaps down before doing the rest of the sleeve?

kylewilliam's picture

my vote is to pick up, knit some stitches and park them on a piece of waste yarn - then they'll be safe and you won't be worried... you don't have to sew the live stitches down to the garment till later...



Contact Kiwiknitter - he's the king of the steeks!

Kerry's picture

A lot depends on the yarn you are using, if you are using Shetland wool there wont be a problem, they just don't unravel. I'm working on a Fair Isle jumper that I steeked two years ago and still haven't sewn down the steek flaps.

Alice Starmore recommends folding back a two-stitch width of steek and stitch in place with an overcast stitch. When you have gone all the way round, reverse the process and this creates cross stitches. It looks easy on her diagram, but I haven't tried it yet.

Good luck.

Celowin's picture

I'm using a Peruvian wool.... while it has adequate hold, it doesn't have the super-clinginess that I understand Shetland wool to have.

I really should get my own copy of that Starmore book, as it seems to be referenced an awful lot. Regardless, your description is very good, and I think I can picture how to do it.

I think that unless someone tells me not to before the weekend, I'll go ahead and try to sew down the steek flaps mid-garment. Since this is my first attempt at these, I'm perhaps more paranoid than I should be, but I'd rather play it safe.

ronhuber's picture

I taught a class a few years back and brought to class a bunch of sweaters that I bought at Goodwill. Horrible looking things they were.
I gave each student a piece of the sweater and asked each one to cut the sweater as you would a steek, but without sewing or doing anything to the knitting. I then told them to unravel them and not one person succeeded. Knitting might unravel a stitch to the side but that is all. I mean you really have to go at it with needles and other tools to get it to go. If you can find a good description of a crocheted steek I feel that that is the way to go. Once you cut that steek it is finished and doesn't need sewing down at all. If you're still worried cut up your tension swatch and see if it unravels. Of course, it is your sweater and you can do anything you want to it. If you will sleep better with the flap sewn down then you should do it. In fact, you could sew the flap down before you picked up the stitches. Or after an inch or two as you suggested. Do as you wish and good luck.
I congratulate you for being adventurous enough to cut your knitting and to question techniques.

kiwiknitter's picture

This is what I do that I find works both with Shetlands wool and regular knitting wools. I make a steek that's wide enough (say a total of 12 stitches. This works better than a narrow steek because even if a stitch or two comes undone, it won't effect the important area which is at the top (the shoulder). I pick up the stitches before I cut because the fabric is easier for me to handle during what I find to be a challenging process. Then I cut the steek and knit away. I don't do anything with the selvedge edges until I've finished knitting the garment and then I trim them and tack them down with a blanket stitch. I know about Alice Starmore's technique and like Kerry, I've never tried it. I've attacked steeks by handsewing, crocheting, machine sewing them and now I don't do anything. As I said above, the only place to worry about is the shoulder line and a wide steek sorts it nicely. The Starmore book is great (I just bought a copy) but I like the Feitelson book better for some reason. Good luck with this -I think you're being overly concerned.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

Celowin's picture

Thanks for the advice and anecdotes, everyone. I'm feeling much better about things. Now it is just a matter of finding time to work on it again, since I really want to have a few hours straight to do the next step.