I know I know, steeking is super scary. Every knitters greatest fear realized: cut knitting! What if it unravels? What if all of that beautiful work comes apart? Well, I tell you, it won’t. Armed with some steeking knowledge you will be just fine. Let’s get started!
This tutorial covers:
Finding the method that works for you
There are many ways to steek, this tutorial outlines the method I used for the Clayoquot and Sweetshop patterns. If you would like more information on some different methods of steeking (or more info on steeking in general) check out Knitty, Eunny Jang, and Kate Davies.
If you are designing your own sweater using our Strange Brew recipe, check out our tutorial on designing a sweater with a steek here.
What can I steek?
If you look around online there are a LOT of opinions on what yarns can be used for steeking. We have successfully steeked superwash and woolly sweaters. If you are worried your yarn won’t work, knit a little swatch and give it a steek, then you can be confident!
Let’s get started!
What you will need to steek:
- A sweater ready to be steeked
- Some yarn (you can use the same colour yarn as the sweater MC or a contrasting one, I found it didn’t matter so I used a contrasting colour to make this tutorial clear)
- A crochet hook a few sizes smaller than the needle size for the sweater
- A darning needle
- Some sharp scissors.
First up, knit yourself a sweater and block it. I knit the Clayoquot cardigan (with the alteration of contrasting pockets). Sew down your pockets, and weave in your ends. If yoiur ends are at the steek point, just leave ’em, we are going to cut them anyway! Any other ends should be woven in away from the steek.
Where should I steek?
The Clayoquot pattern has 5 steek stitches (numbered below). The right crochet reinforcement will use half of stitch 3 and half of stitch 4, and the left crochet reinforcement will use the other half of stitch 3 and half of stitch 2. The cut comes right down the middle of stitch 3.
First you will need to secure your yarn to start your reinforcement. Make sure, as you go, that your crochet reinforcement is nice and tight. It has to hold those stitches in place.
- Make a slip knot onto your crochet hook
- Put your hook through the top of stitch 4
- Pull through a loop (you will now have 2 loops on your hook)
- Pull your working yarn through these two loop (you will now have 1 loop on your hook)
Next you are going to make a single crochet chain down the steek, through half of stitch 4 and half of stitch 3
- Put your crochet hook through the right half (or leg) of stitch 4 and the left half (or leg) of stitch 3
- Pull through a loop (you will now have 2 loops on your crochet hook)
- Pull your working yarn through these 2 loops (you will now have 1 stitch on your hook)
You will continue working steps 1-3 in each stitch until you have worked all of the stitches. At the end, put your hook through the center of stitch 4. Pull up a loop, pull your working yarn through both loops on the hook. Cut your yarn, leaving a 6 inch tail, and pull the tail through the last live stitch, fastening off your work.
Your first crochet reinforcement is complete! The second reinforcement is worked in the opposite direction, starting at the bottom of the sweater and working your way to the top. You will be working your single crochet chain through stitches 2 and 3.
Button bands before the steek
I learned a great tip and had to pass it along: pick up and work your button bands before you steek. It’s not 100% necessary, but it makes things a little tidier and allows you to put a little less stress on those cut stitches. Below you can see I’ve got my maroon crochet reinforcement and I’ve picked up and worked both of my button bands before cutting.
Time to cut!
Take a deep breath, some sharp scissors, and here goes nothin’!
Picking up the button band after the steek
Picking up the button band is the same as any sweater, just a little further in than usual. Insert your needle from the right side to the wrong side and draw up a loop. Continue picking up at the rate specified in your pattern. You may also want to check out the ‘steek sandwich’ that Kate Davies uses.
Sewing down the flap
When I finished steeking my sweater and putting on a button band I found there was a little extra flap. In order to keep the ends from rubbing I sewed down the flap with a whip stitch for a little extra security.
All that’s left are a few ends, blocking, and some buttons to sew on! Your pullover is now a cardigan.