As promised, I thought I would talk a little bit this week about - EEEEK!! -- steeks!
But first, a quick shout-out to my son, Nathan, who finished junior high on Thursday -- I'm so proud of him, and happy that junior high is behind him. (And me, considering he is an only child!!!) Now for a fun summer, and then high school!
Next weekend, I'm taking him to Chicago for Brickworld, the Lego convention (it's sort of becoming our annual trek, to celebrate the end of the school year.) I'm just wishing he were old enough to do the driving - just think of all the knitting time! But that will come soon enough...
A Beautiful Highland Fling Plaid Jacket!
I was exchanging messages on Ravelry with Cynthia (Ravelry ID "thiagram"), and noted that her current icon ID was a great picture of her, wearing the Highland Fling Plaid Jacket!
Cynthia actually made this for her daughter, who was pregnant when these pictures were taken (and who now has a little boy!). Cynthia mentioned that her son was going to make her a nice belt to wear with it, but at the time, "she was not ready for a belt!"
After successfully resisting this technique for the past 40+ years or so, I have finally (gasp!) learned the wonderful magic trick that is steeking, to make the cute little sweater/tea cozy shown above. For those of you who are wondering what that word means, steeking is a technique where you knit the entire body of your sweater, whether cardigan or pullover style, in one continuous tube. This is especially nice for Fair Isle knitting, as you are just knitting in a big spiral and are always on the "front side" of the work. When you get to any portion of the sweater that you want to be open (like the front of a cardigan, an armhole, or the neck), you sort of knit a extra little piece of fabric (called a steek, apparently) that you can slice down the middle, so you can fold the edges back and have a selvedge.
That's right - you cut right into it. Your knitting. Your carefully-knit, on size 3 needles no less, delicate knitting.
(Which is why it took me this many years to even CONTEMPLATE actually trying this.)
For a tutorial, you can't do better than review the postings by Eunny Jang, who used to blog about kntting (and food!) and is now the editor of Interweave Knits. Eunny's on-line tutorial, The Steeking Chronicles, gives a replete explanation of steeking - what fibers work and which don't, and why. And then, she gives you step-by-step instructions, with excellent photos, for the various ways of both creatting steeks, and for securing the edges of the knitted fabric before you cut it to discourage unravelling.
Here is one of the steeks on the Petite Fancy Fair Isle, for the armhole. To make the steek, you simply alternate every stitch with whatever the two colors on that particular row might be. You can either line them up in vertical stripes, or alternate them like a checkerboard (I chose stripes):
It is my understanding that the authentic shetland wool used in the Petite Fancy Fair Isle sweater would not ravel even if cut, as the fuzziness holds it together. But I wasn't brave enough to try it, so I followed Eunny's instructions and ran a line of back-stitches in sewing thread down the center of a column of stitches adjacent to either side of where I planned to cut:
Here are the two rows of sewing (blue) running right up the center of two adjacent columns of stitches. The idea is to splice as many threads as possible as you stitch, to bind them together.
And here (kinda fuzzy, sorry) is the seam from the back, after you cut it. Those backstitches help to secure the many yarn ends. You pick up stitches for the sleeve along the edges of the steek, which is then folded under and stitched down.
There are other nice details on this pattern; you knit together the live shoulder sleeves using a 3-needle bindoff from the inside. I like how the diamond patterns mirror each other.
And the underarms have diamond-shaped gussets (which, if you were wearing the sweater, would make it more roomy and comfortable.)
And there you have it - project 19, the World Class Wee Sweaters are completed!
Project 20 - Fair Isle Tam Capelet
Time for some more Fair Isle, this time in the round, and in a much larger gauge! So far I've finished 2 of the circles, and have one more to go.
These giant tam-tops knit up rather quickly, once you manage to cast on 238 (!) stitches for the outer edge. They don't make very good knitting for the bus, though. I ended up going backwards every time I messed up the pattern.
I figure I can put this together at the Lego convention (which will give me some blessed knitting time away from the office!). I'm also going to bring the yarn for the Galway Bay Shrug Shawl, and the Roman Holiday Shrug, which has lots of small bits to knit separately (bobbles that get sewn together to make flowers, etc.), as those kinds of projects can come in handy to pass the time during the inevitable delays of travel; waiting for food at restaurants, etc.
My siblings and I are also planning a major road trip this summer; we need to transport 2 cars from San Francisco to Minnesota, and then my sister and nephew will go on with one of the cars to Holy Cross, getting there in time for his junior year. All together, there will be 5 drivers and 2 cars, so I'm hoping for some serious knitting time when I'm not behind the wheel! I don't know what project I'll be working on by then (mid-August), but I sure hope it isn't one with lots of color changes. I might have to juggle the order a bit in order to use the time productively.
June Knitting Night
We had a smaller-than-usual knitting night this month; the summer months are always hard, given people's travel schedules. Kim, Karen, Eva and I had a cozy evening. Karen has been particularly productive lately - she is making this lovely shawl for a wedding present (although it might also be used as a table runner):
And she is almost finished with this lovely baby sweater. I love the different rhythms of the striping yarns together. (She also has such lovely hands :)
And finally, she made these great cozy slippers for a mother-daughter pair. To differentiate them, she is going to try to kool-aid dye them, which should be a blast! I asked her to take photos for us.
Eva is nearly done with this adorable baby set; I really like the two shades of green. This is her second seed-stitch project. We had a little tutorial on knitting and purling into the backs of stitches, as the sweater has a shawl collar with some double increases inside the side edge (increasing in 2 adjoining stitches, so as to keep the seed stitch rhythm going in subsequent rows).
Eva kindly modelled the Edwardian Lace Coat - I think it looks wonderful on her! (She also has the best smile; which doesn't surprise me, as she is truly a beautiful person.)
Here it is on me - I'm not wearing anything elegant enough, but wanted you to see the open back as well!