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When we last spoke, I had finished knitting the pieces of my colorwork jacket. Now, time to put it together and do the finishing work!

I had knit three “tubes:” the body of the jacket, and two sleeves. I would need to cut open the body tube to make the piece into a jacket, which is why I knit it with a front steek.

My first experience with steeking was with Fair Isle knitting using Shetland wool. Shetland wool is hairy and sticky enough so than when you cut it open, it does not unravel. The steeks stay put and over time will felt and become virtually indestructible.

I could tell right away that would not be the case for the yarn I had used for my jacket (Wollmeise Blend), as it is soft and smooth, so I would need to reinforce the steeks before I cut them. I opted to use the technique I used years ago when I was in my Dale of Norway Olympic sweater phase: reinforcing with lines of machine stitching using a sewing machine.

Although I had not used my sewing machine for a good ten years, it started right up, and after a quick look at the manual to remind me how to thread the machine, I was happily stitching my steeks.


I did two rows of stitching on either side of the center of each steek, clearly visible from the wrong side:


Once all steeks were stitched, I cut the wee steek I had created to shape the neck of the jacket, picked up stitches, and knit the neckband. In order to work it in the round, I employed yet another another steek to bridge the front opening!


A tip for picking up stitches for a neckband:

I did not have a pattern to tell me to pick up “x” number of stitches for the neckband, so I had to improvise. First, I divided the neck edge into equal sections, marked with pins. I folded it in half and placed a pin, then folded each half in half and placed a pin, etc. I like to do this so I have sections that are each no more than 3 or 4 inches long. Then I picked up the same number of stitches in each section, so that my stitches would be evenly spaced around. I looked at my stitch gauge for the jacket, and picked up slightly fewer stitches than that. For example: my stitch gauge was 6 stitches to the inch, so for each 3-inch portion of the neck edge I picked up 16 stitches. That way, the neckband pulls in ever so slightly, rather than being loose and floppy.

After working the edging pattern on the neckband, I did a purl turning row, cast off the steek stitches, and worked the facing in one color, back and forth, not in the round. Upon completion, I machine-stitched the tiny neckband steek, and cut it.

Next up, the front bands. I cut open the front steek, and picked up stitches along the front edges for the bands, including the front edges of the neckband. I used the same formula for picking up stitches as I did for the neckband: pick up slightly fewer than my stitch gauge warrants. I wanted to knit the bands in the round so I cast on a steek to connect the bands at the neck, and a steek to connect them at the hem, so I was essentially knitting one giant circle of front band goodness.


Many, many stitches later, I had the bands and their facings done. I reinforced and cut open the connecting steeks, trimmed them, and then steam-pressed the heck out of all bands to make them lie down neatly. After sewing the front band facings in place (thus hiding the cut edges of the steeks under the facing), I sewed a ribbon binding over the edge of the facing.


I found the pretty ribbon I used (vintage, made in France] on Etsy. Etsy is a great place to find ribbons, bindings, and other notions.

While I was knitting the jacket, I was thinking about what I wanted for fasteners. Buttons? Snaps? Toggles? I decided on frog fasteners and bought a set of brown frogs via Etsy, and sewed them on the jacket.


And then I promptly removed them.

I discovered that not only would they not stay fastened, but a couple of them fell apart immediately after I sewed them on. And to be honest, I really did not like the look of them on the jacket. I decided to use large magnetic snaps instead.


Once I had the body completely finished, the only thing left to do was to attach the sleeves. I had left the sleeves with live stitches at the top, temporarily strung on a length of yarn. I cut open my armhole steeks and picked up stitches all around the armhole to correspond to the number of live sleeve stitches I had, and attached the sleeves to the body with a three-needle bind-off.




And my jacket was done!

The Gift of Color
Let everybody else run around decorating and wrapping, while you cuddle up by the fire and cast on something colorful, for you.
By Rowan


About The Author

Wendy Johnson is the beloved author of the blog Wendy Knits, one of the first knitting sites. In a never-ending stream of skill and speed, Wendy dazzles readers with her feats of knitting, start to finish. She is a prolific designer of patterns that play with traditional methods, motifs, and materials. To look at her patterns is to enter a gorgeous world where intricate Fair Isle and elegant lace are everyday fare. She is the author of four books: Socks from the Toe Up: Essential Techniques and Patterns; Toe-Up Socks for Every Body: Adventurous Lace, Cables, and Colorwork; Wendy Knits Lace: Essential Techniques and Patterns for Irresistible Everyday Lace, and Wendy Knits: My Never-Ending Adventures in Yarn. Wendy lives near Washington, DC, where her cat Loki is frankly the star of the show. 


  • I am completely mesmerized! This is one of those moments when I think “I want to be you when I grow up! It doesn’t matter that I’m 32… “

  • WOW! Can I just sit here and not drool on it?

  • This is inspiring for me. I have been working on something similar for at least 5 years (many interruptions and steps backward) but have not got to the final finishing stage yet. (I did do the stitching and cutting the center body and armhole steeks.)

    I do have one question. I am having trouble visualizing how you did those bands in the round. But I am guessing that you could have ended up with extra steeked edgings at both bottom and top of the front bands. That is, the vertical edges from the center steek of the body and then, at 90 degrees from those, the edges from the steek you used for the bands. Did you use some sorcery to reduce bulk there?

    It does seem brilliant but I am worried about creating big lumps.

    Thank you for the series.

    • You are correct in how I steeked the front bands. To reduce bulk, after machine-stitching to reinforce, I trimmed the knitting close to the machine stitching.

      • wher can i buy this amazing pattern???? I´m completley in Love with this jacket!!!

  • Wow!
    I am completely in awe of this masterpiece!!!!

  • Following the journey was fascinating and the destination is stunning!

  • Gorgeous! I’ve loved using ribbons to cover steeks so much, that I’ve started putting them on all my cardigans, steeks or not. I’ve even started weaving my own ribbons in matching colors.

    • Weaving ribbon? That’s amazing in its own right.

  • Bravo. A work of art and craftwomanship. Awed.

  • Magnificent!

  • “And then I was done.” LOL.

    This is stupendous work. It’s beautiful, and a testament to knitter persistence.

  • Standing ovation! You are on a knitting skill level that boggles my mind. Loved this post .

  • Exquisite!

  • Wow! GORGEOUS! I don’t even dream about being able to do that. But I do dream about sometime cutting a steek.

  • This is a work of art! Thank you!

  • Beautiful!

  • So beautiful, and such lovely colors! I am, however, a wee bit disappointed that there isn’t a picture of Loki inspecting your work.

    • Thank you! Unfortunately, Loki inspecting my work involves Loki sinking his claws into my knitting, so he is expressly forbidden from inspecting my work!

  • Wow! Amazing and so much more. All the comments have helped also. Thanks so much for the details!

  • I am in total and complete awe! Beautiful jacket.

  • This is absolutely gorgeous, and I’m totally in awe! I’d be terrified of cutting into it after all that hard work. I can just imagine it all unravelling before my eyes!

  • Perhaps I’m being thick, but I’m working on my first steeking project and can’t imagine how to sew the lines of stitches with a sewing machine…how do you do it without sewing the front to the back? Do you just stretch the opening of the sweater out or something?

    • Hi Amber! I sew for a living, so I’ll see if I can answer your question, although describing actions with words can sometimes be inadequate…
      When sewing on one side of a tube or bag shape (such as a sweater or a pillowcase) you need to pull the other layer out of the way. Really, it’s as simple as placing the side you wish to a stitch on under the machine’s foot, grabbing the unwanted fabric and holding it to the front or back, scrunching as necessary. And doing this using the larger opening (waist rather than neck opening) would be the best choice (you can do it the other way, but it’s harder). Which side is the top and which side is the bottom won’t matter, as long as you’re stitching on the side that you want to stitch on. The smaller the item the more you may need to scrunch it, and the more twisty bunched everything can get… for example sewing down the leg of a pair of pants is really hard! But something like this sweater should be simpler.
      I hope this helps. And also, you’re not alone… I have students who are often puzzled by the idea of how to separate layers when sewing.

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