Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Step Away from the Steeks

What I didn't tell you yesterday, was that on Sunday I spent an hour and a half trying to crochet a steek on one sleeve of Betty Jean.  I had two problems:  seeing where to pick up the stitches was the first.  I kept veering off on the diagonal, spanning three half-stitches instead of two.

Then I checked the online tutorials by Eunny and Elinor, and realised that I had only pulled the yarn through the stitches once, not twice.  So I ripped it out, and put it away in disgust.

Yesterday (Monday) I had the day off to commune with The Girl on her return from London.   But being a teenager, she spent a lot of the day holed up in her room playing loud music.  Fair enough!  So I thought I would have another try at the crochetted steek.

I ended up sitting on the draughty windowsill trying to see my stitches.  I was becoming quite concerned by my foggy vision. This is the result of two hours of chilly effort.  (It was 2 degrees C when we walked the dog a little later...)

It is far too bulky.  These great ridges of crochet, folded underneath, will give me the most visible of seamlines.  It wouldn't be a problem up the front bands, but round the top of the sleeves?  Ugh.

A machine-stitched steek would be less bulky... but the sleeve top is too narrow to manoeuvre its length under the presser-foot unless... unless I cut the steek before I sew?

Does anyone know about steeks?  Can I safely slice before I sew?  It is pure wool so it will definitely felt a bit when washed, but what if it unravels before I get the machine stitching in place?  And why are the tops of the sleeves steeked anyway?

I put it away.  No more daylight for me til the weekend.

I made twelve jars of ruby grapefruit marmalade instead!


Ruth said...

I have never sewn a steel, but I have been contemplating them lately and only yesterday I was asking myself if a simple hand sewn backstitch might not be the easiest and even quickest way of stitching one. It seemed to me that with machine stitching it would be difficult to stitch consistently along the right line, and you have shown the problem with crocheting, so how about hand stitching? A back stitch is really quick. BTW, I am so happy to see you doing this! I have just started knitting again after a 25 year gap, and I am trying to change my way of knitting. I have switched to the "Portuguese method" (so fast!) and am looking at EZ's methods of construction. All because I gave up in the first place because I was so slow. But that's how I came to be thinking (worrying?) about steeking.

Ruth said...

Sorry, that should be steek. Stupid self-correct on this computer!

Jen Arnall-Culliford said...

I think you would be fine to cut the steek first and then machine sew the reinforcement. If you have a bit of the yarn to hand, then you could try it out on a small swatch. Cutting steeks is MUCH less alarming than everyone makes it out to be. I've done a few now, and am about to cut the steek on a striped Noro sweater dress myself.
Hope that helps!

MelindaJ said...

I agree with Ruth above, you can use back-stitch to strengthen the edges of a steek. In fact, that's the way I've done it every time, and there's no unravelling. Use a yarn about the same weight as the garment's yarn and make sure you go in and out of each stitch as you sew. Machine stitching has the disadvantage of being hard to manoeuvre sometimes, and also the thread may eventually work through the woolly yarn and cut it.

Well done on the marmalade!

Melinda Jackson

Alessa said...

I have no idea what a steek is, but the ruby grapefruit marmelade sounds very yummy. :)

Lizzi said...

I took in the side seams of a knitted waistcoat and did the backstitch as described above - it was quick and easy - you can make sure you catch every stitch - and then I cut - I was very scared but I had nothing to lose - and it was fine - in fact, more than fine, I am wearing it today. Go for it Roo, you can do it - it's only a bit of wool!!! :-)

Clare said...

I would be hesitant to cut the steek first, unless it's a wide enough that a bit of unravellage won't ruin it - handling the cut edges through a sewing machine will probably pull out some of the threads. Could you do the crochet steek in a lighter yarn? Or do a very strong hand stitch, as others have suggested.
These comments come from someone who has never dared steek before, mind! Probably the question has been answered by experts greater than I on Rav somewhere..

christinelaennec said...

The first time I did a steek, I machine sewed before cutting but it was almost more trouble than it was worth and since then I've sliced, then trimmed to two stitches (that presumes your steek is 4 + 4 stitches wide), then turned under and hand-stitched the selvedge down in an X pattern. You can trim an inch, sew down, trim an inch, sew down, etc. if you feel nervous about trimming a long edge all at once. But actually it's amazing how the wool behaves as a fabric once it's knitted.

Annie said...

I can offer no helpful advice ... just the unhelpful comment that anyone who steeks is a braver woman than I !

Susie Hewer said...

Just be brave and cut it first. It won't unravel. Then oversew the edges in place by hand - I use a sort of herringbone stitch over the edges.

Minnado said...

I hav eto agree with Alessa that I have no idea what a steek is. But I do like the sound of ruby grapefruit marmalade.

Sarah said...

How do you do all that you do!!! Have no idea what a "steek" is....can't knit or sew.....and have very little creative ability (other than writing). Admire and envy you!!

Hugs from across the pond!!

faeriecollege said...

Meh, it's sticky yarn. In theory, you should be able to slice just fine. IN THEORY. And we all know how reliable THAT is.

Making marmelade is much safer ;)

Giselle said...

I would be a little bit reluctant to cut first and then machine stitch for fear that the raw edge stretches too much from going through the sewing machine. Could you use one of those crepe-like tapes before you cut down the centre of the tape/s? Or put the tape next to the line you want to machine stitch and then cut open next to that?
If not a tape then I would hand-stitch first, cut, and then machine stitch, just to be on the safe side. But then I use four machine stitched lines because I'm bound to cut across one of them!
Good luck. Please post your progress!
Steeks are great, and this is gorgeous.