Knitting the Hirne cardigan without a steek

I’ve recently knitted two versions of the Hirne cardigan, a lovely pattern designed by Kate Davies (I blogged about them here and here). I knitted the first in Kate’s own yarn, Ooskit, a beautiful, soft, undyed wool. For the second, I used two strands of silk mohair in a gorgeous coral-red held together. Below you can see both versions:

The pattern is written so that the cardigan is knitted in the round with a steek, and I slightly tweaked the pattern so that I could knit it without the steek. A reader, Robyn, left a comment on the blog asking me to share how I did that. I wrote a reply to her comment and since then I’ve received a number of messages from knitters saying thank you for the notes. Doug commented that perhaps my notes should be put in the text of a blog post, rather than buried in the comments. I decided that this is a great idea (in part because I have NOT KNITTED A SINGLE STITCH IN TWO WEEKS and thus have nothing else to write about here). So here is my reply, repeated in whole, in case anyone is interested.

Hi Robyn! The pattern has you knit this cardigan in the round and then steek it (cut the fabric). I have steeked before and don’t find it awful (although still fairly nerve-wracking) but for this pattern, I felt that it would be easy enough to knit it back and forth. The pattern calls for 9 steek stitches, these are extra stitches which are cut and trimmed away in the process of making the steek. If you are knitting back and forth, you don’t need to add these extra 9 stitches, so when you cast on, you want to have the total number of stitches required for your size, minus 9 stitches. Then, instead of joining in the round, I started the ribbing right away, k2,p2 all the way across, ending with k2. I then followed all instruction as is, ignoring the steek stitches and knitting back and forth.

I knitted both sleeves separately, in the round, and then joined the sleeves into the body as indicated in the pattern. When it was time to start the lace pattern on the yoke, I put stitch markers between every repeat for ease – remember that you won’t be working steek stitches at beginning or end of each row. If you were knitting in the round, then you would read each row of the chart from right to left. Since you will be knitting back and forth, all odd-number rows (right side facing) are worked by reading the chart from right to left, and all even numbered rows are worked by reading the chart from left to right AND reversing the key, so you will be purling those stitches marked knit and knitting the stitches marked purl. This sounds much harder than it is, as there is very little pattern worked on the reverse rows which are mostly just purled. You will be able to read the knitting pretty easily, I think.

The only thing I had to get my head around was how to make sure that the decreases leaned the right way, since they are worked on the purl rows. When it calls for a ssk (which is a left-leaning decrease) you will need to ssp and when it calls for a k2tog (which is a right-leaning decrease) you will need to do a p2tog (I found the ssp sort of difficult to handle, so I ended up substituting with a p2togtbl – purl 2 together through the back loop). SO, if you have already purchased the pattern, and you look at row 24, you would p8, p2togtbl, k1, p2tog, p8, k1. Again, this is much easier than it sounds, and you can do a small swatch of the pattern first to make sure the decreases look good on the right side of the work.

Once the body of the sweater was done, I didn’t have to cut a steek; instead I just picked up the button band stitches as normal and worked the button bands.

I hope this makes sense. Kate’s patterns are usually really clear, and the engineering it takes to do this is pretty straight-forward. If you don’t feel super confident, I wouldn’t work this in mohair, as it is difficult to rip. If you have any troubles, feel free to contact me and ask questions. It may be easier to do on Ravelry, if you are on it – my username is kellydawn. If not, pop me a question here; I may be delayed in responding, but I will see it and get to it. Good luck!

How’s that? An instant post! As for more current knitting news, there is none. I am still struggling to find a new project. A number of you left good suggestions for summer tops on my last post, and I appreciate it. I hope that a new project will jump on my needles soon.

4 thoughts on “Knitting the Hirne cardigan without a steek

  1. Many thanks for putting the instructions into a separate post. I am planning on knitting this cardigan and didn’t really want to steek it. Now I don’t have to figure it out for myself. Very much appreciated. I love how the different yarns and colours change the overall look of the sweater. You do very beautiful work.

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