Sunday, October 23, 2011

Betty Jean: the first cut is the deepest

This weekend I gathered my courage and began to steek Betty Jean.
Some of my readers mentioned that they did not know what "steeking" meant, so I thought I would treat you to some gorey operation-in-progress shots.  Those of a nervous disposition may wish to avert their eyes!

The picture above bears witness to the scariest part of the process: listen to me my children, you have to CUT your knitting!  GASP!!!

But as several wise commenters observed, this is a "sticky" wool fabric, which cut lengthwise will not instantly unravel itself.  If I were to cut it crosswise, it would be a very different story... so I won't be doing that! 

When you knit something with the intention of steeking it, you add extra bands of stitches, rather like a seam allowance in a sewn garment.  As you are knitting in the round, there are two such allowances next to one another, and where they join is where you cut... but because knitters remember the hours of work it has take to get to this point, there is an option to reinforce the fabric either side of the cutting line. Just in case.   Having found crochet too bulky, and heeding the advice that a machine-stitched thread line might eventually cut through my yarn, I opted for two rows of backstitch using the same weight of wool as my garment.


These are sewn through the centre of the line of stitches to either side of the centre-parting, as shown above.
And then you CUT your knitting right up the middle.  GULP.
And miraculously, it stays there.  As long as you haven't cut through your back-stitching (hence the contrasting colour), this is enough to hold the fabric steady while you fold and steam press under each seam allowance.
This is the top of a sleeve.
The safety pin is holding the stitches which will be grafted to a matching set on the main body piece under the arm.
And this is the centre front, after stitching, cutting,folding, steam-pressing and stitching into place with a simple big hand-stitch.

Easy, huh?!

Now all I have to do is sew in the sleeves and pick up the stitches down the fronts to make button bands.

In daylight.

See you next weekend!

17 comments:

Ozzy Blackbeard said...

Ekk!!! I knew the steeking was coming, but the photos are still scary!! I really admire your knitting bravery. Good luck with the rest of it. :)

didyoumakethat said...

Oh my god, that looks terrifying.

RooKnits said...

Love it! Well done Roo
xxx

Ruth said...

It looks great. I must try that! What's the pattern?

christinelaennec said...

I knew you could do it! I think steeking is a tremendously liberating technique and I use it a lot so that I can knit cardigans in the round. You are such an accomplished sewist, the inside of your work looks as beautiful as the outside.

Roobeedoo said...

The pattern is Betty Jean McNeil by The Family Trunk Project :)

Susie Hemingway said...

OMGoodness - such clever stuff here - respect. Really must pick-up the needles now I have more time. Gosh! do I have more time? All best wishes.

MelindaJ said...

Excellent work, Roo!

Alessa said...

Huh. Interesting! You actually cut into your knitting?! You're a braver soul than I... :)

Scruffybadger said...

O my word that is scary - a true Halloween knitting experience! Great pictures and descriptions of the method. Thank you. I know I was one of the quizzlers. But why ? asks the knit noob. Is knitting in the round so much better, even to outweigh this gruesome spine curdling cutting? ( sorry for my ignorance!)

tim's wife said...

I didn't understand a thing you said but that photo still gave me the willies. Yikes! Sending a warm hello to FL.

Roobeedoo said...

ScruffyB: knitting fair-isle is much easier in the round because you never have to purl with two colours. All your knitting is right-side knitting, so it is easier to keep an even tension and carry the colours across the back of your work evenly. And some people just like steeking like others like rollercoasters ;)

Roobeedoo said...

Denise - I am a hopeless blogger. FL is doing fine and I will pass on your good wishes :)

Sandy said...

I think it is too late for me to risk my heart with steeking - I'm still just a basic K2, P2, kinda gurl... that was a scary photo!

Glad to read that FL is doing fine and with cooler weather coming on, I'm sure he will have time to focus on his book. Have the ducks left the pond?

Roobeedoo said...

Hi Sandy! If he focusses any more closely on his book his eyes will cross! ;)
The rubber duck did not stay at the pond, and I don't think the geese have noticed it, preferring the foot of the valley where there is grain to munch. But we have seen a badger down there!

feresaknit said...

Even though I've done it the sight of scissors near the knitting gave me a moment of anxiety! Having looked at the pattern for the one I did Roscalie cardigan by Alice Starmore, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/roscalie-cardigan, the steeks were cut without any reinforcement (ie, machine sewing or crocheting) and then when the sleeves/button band were finished the remnants were cross stitched over. :D

Sharon said...

wow, as a new sock knitter the idea of cardigans in the round has made be dizzy with anticipation. love it.