The Five-Foot Felted Steek

By Ann Shayne
January 7, 2020
Field Guide No. 13: Master Class + Kaffe Fassett's designs + Felted Tweed = A season of great knitting

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  • Steeks have scared me to death. Gretchen Funk deserves sainthood and you have showed me how it works. I’m on my knees in gratitude!

    • Amen!

      • I do needle felting on my BERNINA sewing machine with a special foot attachment and it goes really fast. I do added embellishments on sweaters this way and also use it for repairing those mysterious belly button holes in cashmere sweaters. But I will definitely try this on steels for an upcoming workshop next month!

    • Yes, same!

  • I’m hooked. Gotta try it.

  • I, too, now have steek fever. This may very well be The Year of the Steek!

  • I wanted to knit this blanket but when the work “Steek” showed up I closed the book. Think I will order a set of those “Things” and get started. Thanks for sharing.

  • It looks amazing. I am going to do it. My sewed steeks haven’t turned out well. And the blanket. I’m making mine bigger and it gives the courage to look at changing up some of the color options and will need additional yarn anyhow!!

  • Ann, will you turn under the felted edges and whip-stitch them down, then pick-up-and-knit (or whatever) all around for the border? Is it even necessary to sew down the felted edges, if they’re so thoroughly felted and will be under the border anyway?

    • Yes—the next installment will get into all that. I decided to whipstitch the felted steek because it won’t actually be hidden under the border—it will be visible on the backside of the blanket, and it will get a lot of motion as the blanket is used. If the steek were inside a sweater, I would definitely NOT whipstitch it.

      • That’s a good way to go, and for my super long steek (on Jared Flood’s Redshift Shawl) which was also exposed, I tacked it down on the inside. I used regular sewing thread and a brooooad whip stitch, it still holds! Agreed you wouldn’t need to on a sweater. A few very smart knitters have mentioned folding under and felting a little agin to hold it down. Can’t wait to see it!

      • “Continued in our next episode”! Can’t wait!

        • I love a project involving steeks. Needle felting not so much (pity). Hurray that we have a choice 🙂

  • Steeks scare me to death also, but I do have a copy of the New Yorker, so maybe I’ll give it a try…

  • As someone who has cut many steeks, I’m here to testify that this is probably the most liberating knitting technique I’ve run into in a long time. I’ve used it several times and always do a happy dance afterwards.

  • I’ve already placed my order with Amazon for the needle and brush. I feel like this steeking method is the most revolutionary thing that has ever happened to me in my life!!!! And I’ve had over 20 significant romantic relationships and 3 careers!!!

    • Maureen, I cackled loudly at this comment and will have to bookmark it for future mood-lifting needs.

  • Oh WOW – this is so cool. I’ve done a bit of needle felting before and it seems much, much, much more appealing than backstitching that blanket for eternity. I definitely want to try this – thanks for showing us this process. (I’ve seriously learned so many new things from MDK over the years.) Mind blown!!

  • Oh my, I ordered my Clover felting poker doohickey right then on that day Ann first talked about it, and it’s probably in the mailbox right now.
    I so found the last steek I cut, (well full disclosure- it was the first and only one) it did go okay but still, it made me feel “off”, like something could have gone better. That one steeked project is still waiting for me to finish up, a lonely UFO.
    So, high hopes this process does well, but thanks to everyone’s nice comments – I do have higher hopes than doing more cutting scissoring steeks!

  • This is the best thing I have ever seen. Terror of steeking: cured.

  • no edging, kermt will flatten

    • Right on!

  • But seriously folks – that is a cool technique! I’ve only done one small steek, and it worked, but I was so sweaty the whole time that I haven’t felt compelled to do it again. I might have to give this a try!

  • this sounds amazing! My question is: in cutting a steek previously (which I haven’t done either as I can’t really tell from any video etc where in the stitches to cut) one had to cut a certain stitch up a straight line. Does it matter which stitch or where in the stitches you cut when all is felted? It looks like you can’t see the stitches after felting. Thank you.

    • good question! When you cut you can follow the top (outside) of the steek, which has clear stitch definition. The New Yorker underneath makes sure you don’t cut through the bottom.

  • Sorry – didn’t finish my question – or does the felting only show on the wrong side of fabric?

    • Well that settles it. I will join the ranks of steekers (makes me remember the term streaking from days of old). I’m betting it’s therapeutic to grab a pair of sharp scissors and madly cut and chop into ones knitting with no worries. Cannot wait.

  • Bravo! So all you need is the felting mat and needle to embark on the adventure? I’ve done the classic one stitch machine sewn steek before but this is a game changer.

    Thank you for the daily inspiration. ❤️

  • I love your blanket! I will have to try one of the projects. Felted steaks are genius. Love Kermit. I have two tuxedo cats.

  • Your blanket is BEYOND gorgeous…and this post…I think I’ll have to give it a try too! Thank you!

  • I love the way you write.

  • Perfect! There is a colorwork blanket in my future! Love your description of the process, fearless fun!

  • Well done, well done! It looks lovely!

  • I’ve used felting for sweater front and for sleeves, but I’m impressed with your staying power to felt the blanket. It’s beautiful! Gives me hope for a color work blanket in my future.

  • Will try it, such a great idea, ordered all I needed today ! Thank you for sharing.

  • I can’t imagine the courage it took to take a scissors to all that work. And then the glorious feeling when you saw that blanket unfurl—did you gasp out loud?

  • What a knitting/steeking adventure! Thank you for documenting this momentous project. You deserve a treat…Fever Tree Ginger Beer…it’s the best!

  • Did you do any kind of blocking before the needle felting? I was thinking of lightly steam blocking first to smooth things out a bit.

  • Would this process work on a superwash yarn? Superwash resists felting in water, so is it just unfeltable or could needle felting be the solution?

    • And to this question I want to add another: if the yarn is felted already, does the steek “steek” as well? Or is felted tweed just a name and not a description?

      • It’s just a name, felted tweed is a slightly felty looking yarn.

        • Thank you…something I’d always wondered about!

    • I think I’d probably test it on my swatch first. I’ve always done stranded knitting with non-superwash yarn so it’s more “grabby” anyway.

  • This is masterful and makes me more enthusiastic about any project needing steeking. Id love to make this blanket but have some worries about the open floats on the back. If I line it with flannel or a lighter fabric, will it have any negative effect on the front side? I haven’t seen this before.

    • Susan, I lined a blanket with flannel years ago – you can see it on my ravelry page or blog — it worked great. What I’m wondering (about the steek) is, is there any shrinkage? Or is it just LIGHTLY felted?

    • Susan S. – I lined a blanket with flannel. You can see it on my Ravelry Page (It’s the Counting Panes Afghan, and on Ravelry, I’m Pam). There are more details on the blog posts, which you can find on the project page too. PS It worked — I visited the blanket owner (12 years on) and washed the blanket for him. It still is beautiful.

  • I love everything about this but will start with something smaller

  • I loved everything about this article. I feel like you were talking to me and that I really would like to try out those tools. I’m tempted to take this on.

  • Ditto to other comments. So very beautiful and what a fun new technique. Looking forward to trying it.

  • I love everything about this but will start with something much smaller

  • Can’t wait to try this only smaller.

  • How cool is THAT!?!? 🙂

  • Since I refuse to do intarsia knitting steeks are wonderful

  • Alice Adams is my hero for knitting experiments and discoveries. This Needle-Felted Steek process is outstanding. I’m a fan of this technique for weaving in a pesky yarn end that might want to poke through to the front, as well. Congratulations Alice, for finding Gretchen to write up your technique!

  • You are the braviest of the brave.

  • Loved it! Your dohickey and dealies kept me smiling!

  • Oh my I could have the courage to steek with this method! And will start on my Kaffe pillow #2 – I knitted pillow #1 flat due to deep fear of the steek.

    P.S. Don’t hate me because this may be the only method I’ll ever steek in my knitting life! 😉

  • I recently knit Kate Davies’s Dathan sweater, and saw Meg Swansen’s blog post about needle felting the steeks, which I used on the sweater with success. I also used at least two techniques that I learned on MDK, memorizing the Kitchener stitch (on the shoulders, each about 13″ of stitches knit on a #3 needle), and hiding yarn ends as I knit. I knit my first sweater when I was in 7th grade and wore it, so I have been knitting for 60+ years. Thank you for this amazing site that both inspires and teaches me do ever more wonderful things with my knitting.

  • Kermit swears he saw that blanket move! There must be a mouse under there!

  • Thoroughly entertaining and the visuals of the results are very convincing. My supplies are arriving tomorrow! Can’t wait to try it.

    • Forgot to mention, I have a grey Kermit-lookalike grandcat. So cute!!

  • You are so inspiring! I have one of those stabby doohickeys but have never used it. I think I’ll join the Kaffe-along and knit a pillow cover in the round, then stab the heck out of it and work up my nerve to cut it. I’m thinking it will be good therapy after a stressful day at work. Can’t wait to see your next installment in the process! Thanks for sharing.

  • I just read about the needle felting steel technique the other day, and it was as if a choir of angels began singing in my head: although I have no needle felting experience, I feel sure this is how steaks were meant to be managed, and I feel confident in my ability to pull one off! Will be looking for an opportunity to do this, although I still don’t think I’ve got throw-blanket sized ambition…. Thanks!

  • Just wondering…When the alarms go off at Amazon HQ because of the run on needle felting equipment (Mine arrived yesterday.), what do they do?

  • OMG. Gotta try it. Thank you!

  • Now I have to make steeks, AND I have an excuse to buy a new toy. #enabled

  • Well done! I’ve been making cowls because I was afraid of the steek. Just read this and you’ve given me courage to take the next step. My next project will be a pillow cushion! Maybe the blanket will come after that!!

  • Truly brilliant! I’ve just ordered my stabber doohickey and brush landing pad–which, by the way, isn’t immediately available from Amazon…I wonder why! 🙂

  • I’m so on board with this. Can see this being my first preference

  • I was thinking of a vest with my on-the-way balls of Felted Tweed (thanks, MDK, for that 10% off nudge!) but now I’m seeing that the blanket might make a fun-to-knit-and-steek wedding gift for my daughter! My previous steeks have been boring stitch-and-slice, but this technique turns Boring into a Great Steeking Adventure!

  • Felted steeking is making me finally put steeking on my Must Do list – it seems miraculous! And that blanket is so stunning. Kermit has exactly the right idea – cozy up with that right now, no edge required.

  • Dear Ann,
    WOW! No other words. WOW!

  • I am so, so glad I ordered my own needle-felting doohickeys from Blick yesterday. I cannot wait to take them for a spin. Brava, Ann!

  • Is there any shrinkage? Or is this not THAT kind of felting?

  • *gasp!* *eureka!*

  • I’ve heard of people “darning” holes in handknit socks by needle-felting with a little scrap of spare spinning fiber, too. Because why not?

    The thing I’ve wondered about, though? Would felting the trouble areas of a newly knit pair of socks have a pro-active, protective effect?

    But meanwhile–felting a steek is brilliant!

    • I was thinking about this too. I think you would need to add some fiber to add strength.

  • I may have to needle-felt a steek just so I can have an excuse to get stabby.

  • Personally, I can’t wait for the next step. I’m working my way up on Kate Davies’ Strathendrick (check it out for a really modern Far Isle style). I’ve never knitted or cut a steak!!!! So this miraculous method is just what the doctor ordered. Hurry along with securing those edges so I can follow your lead!
    Thanks always for the best and brightest in knitting news.

  • I ordered the needle felting tool and the brush after reading your article. I want to fix a couple of moth holes in my husband’s cashmere sweater. This will be the year that I finally am brave enough to steek. Thank you.

  • Thanks for this – really great. Looking forward to next time

  • This article showed up just in time. I’ve been knitting for many years but only just finished my first sweater at the ripe old age of 54, am 80% through my second and looking forward to my third…the Blaithin cardigan by Kate Davies. I’ve been panic-attacking over pockets, I-cord bind-off and….that steek. I just received my clover set and am not nearly as intimidated as I was. I’m actually getting very excited to do this thing!

  • I finally had time to read this post and I’m in awe. Thanks for showing us the theory can become reality. And thanks, too for the many names for the felting equipment. I understood what you meant completely! Can’t wait for the next installment of this felted steeking journey.

  • It’s amusing to read this (well, and so many of your postings), but especially so because the very first steeked garment I made was a coat. My inner Efficiency Expert (no, that doesn’t date me, does it?) said, “Hey, let’s try felting the steek before cutting!” There was nothing of this online at the time. Worked a treat.

    That was five years ago. Because I eschew social media, the technique seemed to be orphaned until now. I’m so happy it worked for you too.

    The coat has a happy halo from lots of wear, but the edges still stand firm.

    • Well Rebecca I am so curious how it turned out and would live to see the coat! Also curious how to finish a felted edging? Leave it- border? I know it depends on the project…

  • Ann Shayne, would you mind sharing with me the colors you used in your blanket? I love your colors.
    Thank you