Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cheaters never -- or in this case always -- win

The birth of another friend's baby gives me another opportunity to design baby knitwear! I am super excited about this design, because it makes use of a lot of cool "cheats" to make something pretty simple look pretty complex. One of those cheats is a kind of steek that I learned about in Robson/Gibson-Roberts' Knitting in the Old Way. Like many people, I've been a little nervous about trying out steeking, despite the fact that so many people do it every day with total success. Plus, I was using a superwash yarn, which is not "sticky" enough for many kinds of steeks. But the kind of steek I used here works really well without any sewn reinforcement!

After I knit the neckhole ribbing just like a regular cardigan, I cast on eight extra stitches and started knitting in the round. Whenever I came to the eight added "steek" stitches, I knit with both yarns held together (if I was on a row with two colors). After I was done with the yoke pattern, I unraveled the eight steek stitches all the way up to the cast-on.

Then I cut four "rungs" of the ladder formed at a time and knotted them together on each side of the steek:

The advantage of this kind of steek is that it is totally controllable. You are guaranteed that you'll only be working with the steek stitches, and you can cut and tie them as slowly as you want to. No scary sewing and cutting knit fabric!

Of course the disadvantage is this:

Every single row means two ends to weave in on each side of the cardigan front. Pretty messy! I am still deciding what to do about this fact: I am inclined either to "french braid" them down the front or to trim them down and sew a ribbon on the inside of the button bands to cover them up.

The rest of the pattern is forthcoming, as soon as I've finished knitting the sweater!


Clumsy Knitter said...

That's a pretty neat trick! I would say go all the way with your "cheats" and just hide all those ends behind a ribbon. ;-)

Deborah Robson said...

I trim mine down and hide them. . . . Sometimes I use ribbon, but sometimes I do a covering herringbone stitch on the inside. A few ends may peek out of the herringbone now and then, but I never seem to notice because it's on the inside of the sweater. . . .

Anyway, I don't have the patience to weave them in, and I wouldn't want the extra bulk and stiffness in the fabric because of that many woven-in ends (in other words, it's not a cheat!).

Batty said...

That's pretty darn brilliant! As someone who has never steeked but is planning to, and with a slippery yarn no less, I really appreciate it. Add some colorful trim, and you'll be all set.

Stefaneener said...

Ohhh. . . shudder.

I vote ribbon. Totally ribbon. I'm going to herringbone my cardigan fronts, after I trim them, I think.

Sereknitty said...

Very cool trick -- I'd be inclined to cut the ends and tuck them under a ribbon band as you suggested. Easy peasy!