Have you chosen your pattern? Found some yarn? Swatched? It must be time to kick off the final Year of Techniques knitalong, and this is a great one! I know SO many knitters who are fabulously accomplished, and yet haven't tried cutting a steek in their knitting. There's a fundamental feeling that taking your scissors to something you've spent so long knitting must be a bad idea, but honestly, with the right yarn (and this is KEY), it's a piece of cake.
Steeks allow you to work a colourwork pattern in the round, all the way from the hem to the shoulders. This brings a number of benefits – you are always looking at the right side of the work, which makes keeping the colourwork pattern correct much more straightforward, and there's no need to purl the colourwork, which some people find more tricky than knitting. A steek is a bridge of waste stitches that acts something like a seam allowance in sewing patterns. Once the tube is complete, the bridge is cut open (possibly after reinforcing it with crochet or some sewing) and the edgings are knitted on.
This is the Oorik tank top, modelled by my ridiculously cute niece, and ably demonstrating that knitwear should be designed for shenanigans. Mary Jane Mucklestone designed this colourwork tank top as the perfect introduction to steeking. The project isn't too large, but yet it allows you to cut 4 steeks – giving you ample practice at adding a reinforcement (if you want to – it's not necessary in Shetland wool), and then cutting and knitting on your edgings. At the end of your Oorik, you'll feel like a professional, and as if you really have "levelled up" your knitting skills.
If you don't have a small person to knit for, then you could jump straight in to an adult garment (and there are many beautiful designs to choose from...), or you could make an Oorik and donate it to charity, or keep hold of it until a suitable recipient comes along.
If you fancy making an adult steeked garment (or at least starting one) this month, then here are a few recommendations to get you going:
How about Mary Jane Mucklestone's beautiful Voe Vest (above)? This is worked in the round in Jamieson's of Shetland Double Knitting, so it's a quick knit too.
If you are really keen on Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumper Weight (which is an IDEAL yarn for steeking), then here's a Ravelry search for steeked garments using that yarn. There are some beauties on that list... I've picked a few of my favourites above. If you click on an image it will take you to the Ravelry page for the design.
Our knitalong will run over in our Ravelry group from today until the end of February. To be in with a chance of a prize, you simply need to join our Ravelry group and post a photo of your steeked project in progress in the February knitalong thread. There's no compulsion to finish your project in February, it's the taking part that matters! We will be over there chatting about our projects and sharing hints and tips as we go.
The video tutorial for working steeks is now live over at Mason-Dixon Knitting. If you're in the States, then do check out their kits for the projects from AYoT too. Alternatively, you can stock up on Jumper Weight in our online shop, where we have kits all set up for Oorik, as well as Winter Kits containing all of the yarn for the Hedera Helix socks, Shaila mittens and Oorik.
I am all set to cast on an Oorik in this blue-green colourway that I picked out last week. I've been working steadily on my Ola Yoke too, which is designed as a sweater, but I'm planning to cardiganise it with a steek up the front. I've completed the first sleeve, and am about a third of the way up the second sleeve. I'm going to put it to one side while I work on Oorik fairly monogamously this month. Not least because Oorik will work like a swatch for the colourwork yoke of my Ola! I'm so looking forward to seeing what other projects everyone will be working on!
If, like me, you're feeling a little bit sad that A Year of Techniques is coming to an end (it isn't really ending, as people will continue to work on the projects and chat about them over in our group), fear not! We have plenty of plans for the coming year – it will be filled with opportunities to try something new in your knitting. Stay tuned for more, by signing up for our general newsletter. There's always something new to learn...
Images in this blog post are © as follows: Oorik images are © Jesse Wild; Voe Vest is © Gudrun Johnston; Blomekrans (vest) © Tori Seierstad; Cockatoo Brae © Kate Davies Designs; Cruden © Ysolda Teague; Islay © The Knitter; my Oorik yarn colours © Jen Arnall-Culliford.