Steek, Steek, It Rhymes With EEK!

A steek or steeking is a knitting technique originating from somewhere along the North Sea; the Fair Isles of Scotland or Norway depending on who you ask. I can see each region independently coming to the same conclusion given their tastes for beautiful stranded colorwork knits.

My definition of steek sounds like this: the process by which one tests the health of her heart against wool and sharpened steel.

Stranded or colorwork knitting is dramatically faster to knit for most knitters (me being chief among them) if you never have to purl. The only way to achieve this is to knit your garment completely in the round, and then go back later and make openings for the neck and armscyes. There is only one way to make an opening in knitted fabric.

That’s where the sharpened steel comes in. You have to cut your knitted tube of fabric.

(This is the part where all the knitters take a deep breath and brace themselves at the very thought of it, whether they have done it or not…)

Some of the most seasoned knitters (I always imagine them as hardened old ladies wearing 18th century style garb from Scotland) go forth and snip without any reinforcement; they have total faith in the power of sticky wool.

Most use some method to reinforce the stitches around the point where the cut will be made. I will be going with a hardcore zigzag stitch from my handy sewing machine. I am reading every article I can find about steeks to get myself ready.

I believe in the power of Eunny Jang and Wendy Johnson.

That is the 5-stitch steek insert for the neckline of the Corrie vest. That is one of three places I will soon be slicing through with scissors. The thought gives me a little frisson…

What’s my motto these days? Aut viam inveniam aut faciam.

I will find a way or I will make one.

Seems quite literal in the case of steeking.


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