Hello fellow knitters,

I joined up a few days ago and have been having a great time getting acquainted with the site. I have a question, though, that I hope someone can help me with. I've just finished the main knitting on a fair isle sweater and it's time to cut the steeks. I keep reading that if the yarn is 100% Shetland, you can cut the steeks without reinforcing them. I'd love to do that as I'm a horrible crocheter, but it makes me a little nervous. Does anyone have personal experience with just cutting up the middle of the steek?

If this has been covered a hundred times before, please forgive my asking it again.



Celowin's picture

I personally haven't worked with Shetland wool, but I've been in communication with someone that has. That person doesn't reinforce his steeks with Shetland wool, and in fact is fairly convinced that even on other wools it isn't strictly necessary.

I am not to the point where I feel comfortable without some degree of reinforcement. On my current project (the only one I've used steeks on, so far), I used a thick thread and my pathetic sewing skills to do the reinforcement. While it wasn't a fantastic job, it was "good enough." In a sense, it worked out well that in places my sewing wasn't spectacular, because it gave me a greater comfort with how little the steek will unravel when it comes out of the reinforcement.

mike10003's picture

Thanks for your help. I think I'm going to cut them tonight without reinforcement -- the Shetland really does grab onto itself tightly. I'll let you know how it goes.

MMario's picture

Did you do it? What was the result? Inquiring minds want to know!

MMario - ambiguity is cultivated, it doesn't happen in a vacuum!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Kerry's picture

I've cut steeks using Shetland wool and there is no problem, the fabric holds together very well. Some people don't even bother to sew down the cut edges when the sweater is finished. Good luck.

mike10003's picture

Hooray! That's what I was hoping to hear. I may still tack down the edges, but I'm definitely cutting the steeks without reinforcement. Thanks.

Welcome Mike

mike10003's picture

Thanks Rob -- I'm really excited abiout finding this great spot.

kiwiknitter's picture

Good luck with the cutting! Long-time MWK members are sick and tired of me singing the praises of steeks but since you asked... I just complete a Fair Isle jumper last night (posting to come soon), using Shetlands wool. I did not reinforce the steeks. One thing I will add is that I find that a wider steek (say 12 stitches) makes a better steek. I've done them as narrow as 3 stitches but prefer the wider. Let us know how it goes.

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

mike10003's picture

I hadn't actually thought about that when I started. I just did 9 stitches because that was in the pattern. But I guess that helps stop the unraveling process too -- having a few stitches in between the cut and the work. 3 would seem sort of precarious for no reinforcements -- thanks for that very helpful insight!

Craig's picture

Welcome aboard

Have been knitting for years. I knit continually then will try another craft, but will return to the needles.

mike10003's picture


After you cut your steeks, most European knitters wash their garment or at least soak it to let the wool 'find it's way' and while it's wet, they'll felt the ends of the cut strands a bit to secure the wound. You don't have to do much rubbing if it's 100% wool - wear and sweat will finish the job over time. That said, don't forget to save some of your yarn for repairs later on down the road.

~Mike in Tampa

mike10003's picture

Right away? Before finishing? I had planned to felt them up a bit during the blocking process, but I was going to knit the armbands and buttonband first.

Any advice on timing?

No, no! After the whole thing is done.

~Mike in Tampa
Yahoo Id: stickywarp2001

mike10003's picture

Thanks to everyone who offered advice (and for making me feel welcome). What a very nice group...

I cut them last night and everything seems fine. I have to admit that I followed Elizabeth Zimmerman's advice and had a drink afterwards -- it's a lot of work out the door if the whole thing starts to fall apart!

Again, thanks for the encouragement -- now on to the finishing. I've got a lot of corrugated ribbing in my immediate future.

kiwiknitter's picture

Congratulations, Mike! See, it wasn't that bad after all! It was a good plan to have the drink after cutting rather than before! I'm keen to see the jumper when it's finished.

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