This has got to be one of the best ideas we’ve ever had—cutting into your felted rug in the company of a supportive gaggle of knitters. We’ll all virtually hold hands, take a deep breath, and CUT! THAT! STEEK!
I will be cutting the terrier-sized version of the Kiki Mariko Rug that I’ve made for Olive’s doggie ramp. Hopefully others who are banging out a Kiki Mariko as part of this month’s knitalong will also be literally cutting a rug with us on Monday. But steeking is for everybody! If you’d like to experience the joy of cutting a steek in knitted fabric that’s already been felted in the washing machine or dryer, here’s how you can join us. It’s a bit of optional homework for Monday’s Zoom call, if you will, with two versions to choose from.
How to Make a Tiny Kiki Mariko
Don’t think too hard about things like materials or gauge. As long as your wool is feltable, you can make it work for this steek practice project, which can be any size. I used Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky because I had it, but I could just as easily have used worsted weight yarn or even Felted Tweed.
For Version A (top in the photo), I used the Kiki Mariko stitch pattern chart, because I have it and I’m used to knitting it. If you’d like to make an even simpler project to steek on Monday, see Version B (below in the photo), it’s even quicker to make.
How To Make Steek Sample Version A
Don’t worry about that flare at the top edge of the tube. The Kiki Mariko Rug pattern has a fix for that for the actual rug-sized version.
Using double-pointed needles or a short circular needle, cast on a multiple of 12 stitches for the pattern, plus 10 stitches for the steek. It’s important to cast on enough stitches so that you can knit in the round comfortably on your needle.
I used a 12-inch (30.5 cm) circular needle, size US 13 (9 mm), because that’s what was handy, and I cast on 34 stitches.
Join to knit in the round. Using the Kiki Mariko Rug pattern instructions to set up your steek, work a couple of repeats of the stitch pattern, changing colors as directed by the pattern (or not). Bind off all stitches. Turn the piece inside out and either tie all the ends into square knots, or weave them in, according to your preference. They are going to felt, so they will not trouble you either way.
For orientation purposes, I’ve placed green markers on the two edge stitches of the steek. The orange marker is placed at the exact center of the steek, where I’ll be cutting. You don’t need to place any markers on your piece, this was just my way of making the steek easier to see amidst the scrappiness of my piece.
How to Make Steek Sample Version B
This bumblebee/taxicab version is handy if you don’t want to work the Kiki Mariko stitch pattern or you just want a little piece of knitting that lets you enjoy the felted steek experience.
Using double-pointed needles or a short circular needle, cast on enough stitches so that you can knit in the round comfortably. I used a 12-inch (30.5 cm) circular needle, size US 13 (9 mm), and I cast on 34 stitches, the same as I did for Version A.
Join to knit in the round. Place a marker at the beginning of the round, and alternate knitting your two colors, 1 stitch in color A and 1 stitch in color B, for 10 stitches, to make the steek visible. Place a marker at the end of the steek. On each round, when you get to the steek section, work color B on top of any stitch that is color A, and color A on top of any stitch that is color B.
Now, for all stitches outside of the steek, work 2 stitches in color A, 2 stitches in color B, for 4 rounds. After 4 rounds, switch to 2 stitches in color B, 2 stitches in color A, for a checkerboard effect.
Work a few repeats of the checkerboard pattern. I worked one full repeat and then one half repeat. This will be a short little piece after felting, so if you’re wanting to get a felted coaster out of this exercise, knit more repeats.
Bind off all stitches. Turn the piece inside out and either tie all the ends into square knots, or weave them in, according to your preference. They are going to felt, so it’s not going to matter much either way.
Now Felt It
Wash your piece in warm water with liquid detergent, on a short cycle setting.
Option 3. This is our clever friend Nell Ziroli’s not-patented no-washing-machine method: Soak the piece in warm to hot water with a little wool wash until it’s fully saturated. It won’t felt much from this, if at all. Squeeze out as much of the water as you can, first by hand and then by rolling it in a towel and standing on it. Put the damp piece in your tumble dryer with a tennis ball or a pair of jeans—something that won’t felt or be damaged by contact with wool fluff—and periodically stop the dryer to assess your level of felted-ness. When it’s nice and felty, but still barely damp, take it out and let it air-dry the rest of the way. You should still be able to discern the stitches, but the piece will be smaller and denser in texture than before.
Now, all that’s left is the cutting. Grab a pair of sharp scissors, and we’ll see you on Monday!