Steeking: What It Is, Why It’s Fun

By Ann Shayne
February 23, 2021

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  • My first steek was around 1989 — I knit the Wave Cardigan from Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting. Had no idea about steeking before then, but if Alice said it was okay, that was good enough for me! That first steek stood the test of time and I’ve been happily steeking for over 30 years!

    • Awesome, I’ve yet to be a steeker, just trying to figure out what pattern to start with!

  • Steeks can also be needle felted before cutting, eliminating the need for crocheting or sewing.

  • Thank you for recommending The Damselfly cardigan site. What amazing work! So Couture!!
    This will be on my short term goal list!! MDK has done it again for me. Thank you

  • Loved yesterday’s zoom! I have a steek question. If I want a Kiki Mariko to be a blanket not a rug, could I just felt it less? And then I’d need to bind the cut edges?

    • Love the Kiki blanket idea!

      If you want to secure the steek without fully felting the blanket, I’d recommend needle-felting the steek. Ann and I were talking about it last night, as we both used it to steek our Kaffe Fassett blankets from Field Guide No. 13. Here is Gretchen Funk’s excellent tutorial on how to needle-felt a steek:

    • Alt: if you crochet: use crochet chaining in the knit stitches to secure steek and be the base for a crochet edge.

      If you don’t crochet, just keep walking, pretend you couldn’t hear me behind my corona-mask 🙂

      • That’s very funny! I would be one of the ones that keep waking. I had a hard enough time learning to knit. I find ways to avoid crochet. Cheers to though.

        • I hate auto-correct. Should be walking and Cheers to you though.

      • Maybe it’s time I learned how to crochet!

  • What is the name of the pattern in the first image? Its gorgeous.

    • It’s the Donagal celtic spiral sweater from the Alice Starmore book, The Celtic Collection.

      • Wow June, way to Name That Handknit! Excellent sweaterspotting!

  • I steeked a Norwegian cardigan, fair isle body and striped sleeves back in the early 80’s. I knit it out of alafoss lopi light. It was scary but successful. Still have the cardigan. Will have to challenge myself to steek another project.
    Thank you for your inspiration once again.

  • Such an amazing collection of articles, it’s so educational. I will need to research Alice Starmores work. It looks amazing . I’m new to color-work but it’s my new favorite knitting technique. I draw and paint so I see endless opportunities for creativity. The Zoom meeting was fabulous. Watch the video if you missed out. Be warm and safe everyone.

  • The first time I cut a steek I had to also cut the neck shaping because I had just learned to knit

  • The videos are fantastic not just for the content but for her amazing voice and accent: Balm to my Western NY ears.

  • Wonderful article! A technical note on Anne and Kay’s steek party Monday, which I missed: I watched the recording, which is wonderful, but had one glitch which might be worth mentioning. The recording was in speaker mode, so while Kay cut and Anne chatted, we only got to see Kay when she was actually talking. Otherwise it switched back to Anne. I noticed that viewers had been urged to use gallery view, and while that might not have been the right choice for the recording (too small to see the action?) you might experiment with recording in “pin video” mode next time, so you can control what the viewer of the recording is seeing. But this is a minor point at best. Thanks for the fun project!

  • You guys are KILLING me! Now I have a Henry VIII kit in my shopping cart! I’ve wanted one for years, but the worry with punching the purchase button is sizing – I generally knit large size, but by her measurements medium should be big enough. Opinions on sizing? Normally with a kit I order large, fiddle the pattern, and don’t worry about extra yarn, but I’m not sure my brain is up to fiddling with that pattern….

  • I am making a pima cotton top, steeking the neck opening and sleeves, since knit stitches were so much more even. A steek, to me, is similar to sewing, when one would use a facing. Just need to secure the steek before cutting, which is also similar to reinforcing a sewn steek. This Wednesday is steek cutting day!

  • This is brilliant, Ann! I hope I can advance to steeking eventually. In the mean time, it’s more socks and an occasional lacey scarf.

  • What a great article – which I could not find despite searching for “steek” or “steeking. I have never steeked as Fair Isle is still beyond me despite taking private lessons. But I always thought “what’s the problem?” You are not cutting into your actual knitting!! Plus like Nancy I have a sewing background. We sewers wield our scissors on every project. Often into expensive fabric. Looking forward to both those videos!

  • P.S. For anyone who has access to it there was an article in the Style section about the new editor of Harper ‘s Bazaar with a photo of her wearing a black KNITTED vest. Her all-black outfit had a certain amount of dressy, high-fashion bling to it like she could wear it to a cocktail party. I was thrilled. My favorite thing to knit is a vest (no sleeves) and Harper’s Bazaar approves!

  • Whoops, the Style section of the Washington Post. And the vest was your standard sporty kind with ribbed trim at the armholes and neckline, but seemed to have a bit of sparkle to the black yarn. Doubt there was any steeking though.

  • Thank you for this steeking overview. What is that lovely sweater in the photos?

  • I did my first (and only, so far) steek last July in Kate Davies’s Dathan pullover. I needle-felted it. Cutting it was such a rush!

  • Yikes! Ready to start this and have never done color stranding. And I knit European style. Practicing I end up with tangles and confusion. Have tried holding yarn in two hands and just one also Just hope I can eventually get to where I need to steak! Any advise on instructional videos would be a godsend!