In the end, after all my worries, steeking turned out to be rather anticlimactic. For those who haven’t been following, I have been knitting a birthday project for my daughter, Leah, which is a panel with the transcription from the One Ring (from The Lord of the Rings) knitted into it:I am knitting it in the round using two-handed stranded knitting with transcription charts provided for free on Ravelry by Diana Stafford. In the above photo, taken a few weeks ago, the fabric on the left is intended to be used as a backing for the pillow (more on that below).
I used the method provided by Kate Davies in her wonderful steeking tutorial, which involves using a crochet reinforcement. First, I crocheted up one side of the cut line (using a brown yarn for the reinforcing):
Then, I turned the piece around and crocheted back up the other side of the cut line.
Here is the piece with the reinforcing done, just before cutting:
I must confess here to a few minutes of panic at this point. I wavered between the part of me who had faith in Kate’s directions and in the thousands of knitters calmly steeking garments for centuries, and the part of me convinced that the reinforcements wouldn’t hold and that the whole thing would unravel. Emma, while in the midst of a terrible flu, provided both photographic services and calm advice (“Just cut the damn thing already, so that I can go to bed!”)
The two rows of crochet lean away from each other and when pulled slightly apart, reveal a line of ladders which are the bits actually cut. OK, here goes nothing:
It was fairly dark and rainy in Vancouver that day so the photos are not so great, but perhaps you can tell how intensely I was concentrating on the task:
And, voila, steek done! And not a hint of unravelling:
I then popped this baby into a sink and gave it a good soak, pressed it between layers of towels and stomped on it, stretched it out, pinned it and let it dry, and still not a hint of unravelling. Ain’t steeking grand!
And, behold, the blocked piece:
Isn’t it just fabulous? I really love this.
It is worth every bit of trouble it took to knit. (Mostly, just that it demands you pay attention to what you are doing. It is not a TV knit.) Here is a small portion of one page of the chart:
There are 6 full-size pages. You can see that I annotated all of the background areas by counting out the number of stitches in advance. It still took lots of concentration to knit.
Unfortunately, it was at this point that problems set in. My initial plan was to use the fabric to both make the pillow slightly wider (by sewing long strips above and below the knitted piece) and then to back it. The blocked knitted piece measures about 13″x41″ (which makes it pretty long for a pillow; definitely not a standard size). I had planned on aiming for a completed pillow size of about 25″x40″. I am not a seamstress and have little sewing experience. I was on holiday in Vancouver, and my sewing machine back home in England, so I had hoped to borrow both a sewing machine and some sewing expertise. I talked to a number of people who had more knowledge of sewing than I do, and each of them thought that sewing the knitted fabric to the silk fabric would not be an easy task, and that the different tensions between them would lead to problems with pulling and stretching. Each of them had the same advice: knit the pillow back. As Teresa put it: “You know how to knit. You feel comfortable knitting. Sewing this makes you uncomfortable. Stick with what you are good at.”
I have lots of extra yarn, plenty to knit the pillow back (of course, the extra yarn was at home in England). In the end, I decided to stew on the matter for a bit. This means that Leah did not get her birthday present. I brought it back home with me, and am now busily debating how I should finish it. Should I risk sewing these two fabrics together? Should I consult a seamstress and pay to have a professional do it? Should I admit that the different tensions will likely lead to the knitted side stretching over time even if I can solve the sewing problem? Or should I just knit the back? And if I do that, how should I do it? Should I still knit panels to make it wider? (13″x40″ is too long and narrow.) Should I knit a border panel? And how to fasten it? Zipper, buttons, envelope closing? Too many questions, lots of indecision on my part. (I would welcome advice.)
In the meantime, back here in the UK, it is stormy and rainy and flooding all over the place. I have b-school this weekend, so very little knitting is likely to occur over the next week (or blogging for that matter). I hope that all of my UK readers stay dry, and all in North America keep warm this week.
PS – I asked Doug for advice on what to name this post. This is what he came up with:
- Steek with me, baby!
- Steeky fingers
- It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp steek
- Jose Jalapeno with a steek (with apologies to Jeff Dunham)
- Steek figures
- Steek to your guns
- Steek it to the man!
- How to steek to a New Year’s Resolution
- Just cut the damn thing already, so that I can go to bed!
Why do I bother to ask?