Ravelry project page (with all the mods I did and more notes on the actual pattern rather than the process): http://www.ravelry.com/projects/whirlybird/colour-your-own
Pattern: Philosopher’s Wool Colour Your Own
Yarn: Philosopher’s Wool 2-ply (100% wool, worsted weight)
This was my first time steeking for real. I’d done some practice steeking on swatches, but this was the first time no kidding, for real steeking.
For anyone who might not know what the heck I’m talking about, steeking is *gasp* cutting your knitting open for things like arm and neck holes, and in the case of cardigans, the front opening as well. This is scary stuff. You spend all that time knitting something and then you’re supposed to cut it? EEEK!!! Okay, now I know where the name came from. Someone was told to cut her knitting, and said “Shut the … EEEK!” and henceforth it was known as S.T. EEK. Steek.
So, step 1: Knit the sleeves. Easy peasy, no sweat. Just around and around and around.
Step 2: Knit the body. Again, no sweat. Around on a larger circumference for lots more rounds.
Step 3: Sew the steeks. Yeah, this is where it gets complicated. I hadn’t used a sewing machine since that incident in the seventh grade Home Ec class. An apron. A request to Mom not to laugh. Laughing. Yeah, me and sewing machines don’t get along great. (Still, at least I didn’t manage to put the sewing needle through my thumbnail like a certain sibling of mine.)
I went to Target, bought a sewing machine, took a long time to figure out how the heck the thing goes together, and ran a knitted swatch through it a few times to get the hang of it and figure out the best stitch to use. (Knitting authors seem to think that I sew. Both Elizabeth Zimmermann and Alice Starmore blithely tell me to sew a couple of lines, but not advice was forthcoming on the best stitch to use. But then both of them were writing at a time when most women did sew.)
Finally I gathered my courage. Here’s my pre-stitched sweater:
Notice the orange vertical lines? Those are basting to tell me where to sew. Otherwise, I’d probably veer off and end up with a very “artsy” cardigan where the opening was at the front middle at the bottom but at the left shoulder at the top. Or the back middle. Who knows?
Deep breath. Carefully run through the sewing machine. Sigh of relief when the line of stitches is almost vertical. (Not 100% vertical, but give me a break. It’s the first time.)
Next, two smaller steeks sewn on either side for the armholes. Not quite as bad as the front opening, because now I’m “experienced.” The only trouble I had here was the turn at the base of the armhole. (Where the less “classy” of us say armpit.) Getting the stitches to turn sideways was not easy, and I fear it’s less than neat there. Hopefully no one will be looking that closely at my armpits!
Finally, a scooped area sewn for the neck. I’m lazy, and anything (even another steek) is preferable to purling colorwork.
A picture of the neck scoop prior to cutting:
Okay, moment of truth. Are you a (wo)man or a mouse? Do we run and hide, or do we cut? A Knitter with a capital K or just someone who knits? Deep breath. And … CUT!
It really wasn’t quite as bad as I had imagined. The next time (and there will likely be a next time), I’ll put more space between the stitching, especially at the armholes. More room = less scary almost-cut-the-sewing close calls. It looked like it was supposed to. Nothing completely unraveled. Nothing exploded. No one (including me) died.
After cutting open the steeks:
Finally, some finishing. Actually, quite a lot of finishing. LOTS of ends to weave in on the arms. (The steek secured the ends on the body, so not as bad as it could have been.) A button band to pick up and knit in the cardigan opening. (Another first – I’ve never done buttonholes before. They’re kind of annoying to do.) Buttons to sew on. Sleeves to sew on. Finally, DONE!
Whew. That was a lot of work, but I think it was worth it. I’ll let you know next winter, because I finished it just in time for the weather to warm up. *sigh*