Amber’s Blaithin — The Big Steek

by Amber on October 14, 2013

9-17 (3)

As I hoped would be the case, things really picked back up once I got to the excitement of the colorwork section.

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And finally getting to the point where I could try it on was something I’d been waiting for the whole time.

9-18 -- colorwork done!

It fit! And almost perfectly at that! Looks like all my bothering to follow the directions careful measuring paid off.

After finishing the neck, I turned the whole thing inside out to weave in my few ends, graft my underarms, and sew the pocket flaps shut.

9-19 (2)

And while we’re inside out, here’s a look at the backside of the completed yoke. There might be a few tight-looking spots, but I am confident that they will be fine once the whole thing is washed and blocked.

9-19 (1)

Some of the natural yarn floats are looking a little sloppy from behind because they’re held up in the center of seven stitch stretches. I don’t know why I was compelled to secure them and leave that bottom row as is, except that maybe it seemed like a good idea as I went along. And possibly there were someĀ terrible flashbacks of when I used to wear rings and constantly get them caught in the back of stranded colorwork sweaters of all kinds. I’m not sure why I felt the need to share all of that, except that I am embarrassed by my lack of neatness I suppose. BUT ANYWAY. Steeking time!

As I am A) a first time steeker and B) this is a Kate Davies pattern, it seemed like a no-brainer to go with her steeking tutorial. Not only does it get rave reviews, I also assumed it would speak to me in a way I would feel comfortable with, since I really like the way Davies’ patterns are written. (All four parts of her steeking tutorial can be found here on her tutorial page.)

For my crochet needs, I went with a wool yarn that felt good and snaggy and also brags of its felting prowess. If that wouldn’t lock my stitches in place, what would? It might be hard to see what I’ve done because unlike the examples which use contrasting yarns to illustrate each step, I needed to use a matching yarn that will not show through my finished edging.

As suggested, I marked off the body with pins down the middle of the stitch that will be cut to keep me in a straight line. (Oh boy, it’s getting real now!)

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Getting started,

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Looking good so far…

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Eventually, I made it all the way down and back up again (crooked from a few areas where I seem to have accidentally added a few extra stitches, oops!), and my steek bridge was complete.

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And then,

and then…

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I will not lie to you, the first cut was wince-worthy. But when nothing horrible happened (as promised), it went very smoothly. The “Cut Me!” ladder up the middle shows itself readily as you go,

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and unless you’re using a pair of gigantic garden shears and snipping all willy-nilly, while blindfolded, there is not much of a chance of you cutting any bits you shouldn’t. Really! I encourage you to try it sometime. I am officially a steeking convert now.

9-21 (2)

See? Nothing out of place, and the edges feel as strong as can be. Yay! The next step in securing the cut edges in this pattern is the “steek sandwich,” as seen in the many pictures to follow.

These are the very first stitches I picked up for my left side sandwich. I did a really crappy job on that side and had to redo it after I did the other side and saw them together, but it went pretty smoothly the second time around.

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As explained in the tutorial, you pick up and knit stitches on the front of the garment, and pick up on the back and knit a flap there as well. You can see here how the two sides come up and will eventually enclose the crochet reinforced edge.

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Looking good so far.

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Close that puppy up!

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Mmmm, sandwich. Now on the other side, otherwise known as, “the one I did right the first time,” the next step after closing up my sandwich was marking off for buttonholes. Being who I am, I measured to keep it nice and even, and found that they could be spaced exactly four inches apart. How pleasing!

9-30 (1)

(And because Mr. Right Side is such a handsome fella, I’ll show you his backside too. Woo woo!)

9-30 (2)

(And up at the yoke section.)

9-30 (3)

The last steps in this Blaithin-y journey of mine are the i-cord bind offs and a little washing and blocking. I can’t wait until next time to show you my finished sweater, but I have to admit to feeling a little sad about what will be my final post in this series. I’ve enjoyed sharing my progress with you all so much! Until next time…
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Amber resides in sporadically idyllic Berks County, PA with her husband and three children.

She can most often be found knitting, making soap, sewing, or puttering around in her garden. She should probably leave her house more often.

{ 31 comments }

1 Torre October 14, 2013 at 9:46 am

What a beautiful job! I admit it wincing at the first picture of the cut ;)

2 Amber October 15, 2013 at 10:52 am

Thanks! And I probably should have put some sort of warning on it. ;)

3 Karin October 14, 2013 at 10:15 am

So beautiful. But you are a tease. I want to see the finished project NOW! You are a brave soul cutting into that beautiful sweater.

4 Amber October 15, 2013 at 10:53 am

Thanks Karin! I wish I could have shared it now, but gosh that would be an awfully long post! :)

5 Ann Williams October 14, 2013 at 10:21 am

Beautiful! I am so envy-ious!

6 Amber October 15, 2013 at 10:56 am

Thanks! And I highly recommend this pattern as an enjoyable and rewarding knit, just saying… ;)

7 Jean Carrington October 14, 2013 at 11:10 am

What a great pictorial. I really enjoyed it. My 1st foray into steeking was a tiny teddy bear sweater, so I got over that moment of terror before making the 1st snip before I actually had to do it on a work of art. It’s a beautiful sweater. Please show a the finished product.
Jean Carrington
Musheroom on Ravelry

8 Amber October 15, 2013 at 10:58 am

Thank you! And great idea steeking on a smaller garment first! Obviously did not occur to me, but would have saved me some stress for sure.

My final post will be up in a few weeks with plenty of finished project pictures. :)

9 warbler01 on Ravelry October 14, 2013 at 11:12 am

Amber, I love the colors and it looks great on you. Can’t wait to see the finished sweater. Thank you for sharing the tutorials. I haven’t seen the “steek sandwich” before – that is cool. I recently learned to steek and put in a zipper. I wonder if the sandwich would work with putting in a zipper.

10 Amber October 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

Thank you so much! Look for a PM from HowdyPandowdy on Ravelry shortly — I’m sending you a link to a Blaithin that did indeed use a zipper with the steek sandwich and it looks like it worked well. Unfortunately there are no project notes and only one picture, but you can clearly see the zipper in the one that’s there.

11 Maltese parakeet October 14, 2013 at 11:23 am

Congrats! I have a steeking project on the needles and this is giving me tons of courage!

12 Amber October 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

Yay! You can do it!

13 Brenda aka blendab1 October 14, 2013 at 11:24 am

Great blog Amber! This has compelled me to try steeking. I think though I will practice on a swatch or two first though as You are braver than me!!

14 Amber October 15, 2013 at 11:16 am

Thanks Brenda! You can definitely do it! But practicing first is never a bad thing. Had I done that, I would have a far less lumpy edge inside my sandwich. ;)

15 Sarah October 14, 2013 at 11:25 am

Steeking is on my list of Things To Tackle. I’ve been saying that for a few years now; maybe someday I’ll actually get around to it. This looks great! LOVE that yoke color.

16 Amber October 15, 2013 at 11:17 am

You can definitely do it! Isn’t that yoke color great? It just glows.

17 Sarah V. October 14, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Oh my gosh, it’s stunning already! I keep thinking, every time I see it, that it’s so YOU :) Comforting and gorgeous and fun. I love it! Soooo excited to see i-cord!

18 Amber October 15, 2013 at 11:18 am

Thank you!!! It is a wonderful sweater, and I am so glad I made it! I just hope my i-cord is up to your expert i-cord standards. ;)

19 Linda S October 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I love how the handspun looks in the colorwork section. Good yarn choices!

20 Amber October 15, 2013 at 11:20 am

My friend Kristen really did an incredible job on the handspun. And it really does go well with the Rusticus. Definitely will be a much-worn sweater!

21 florapie October 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm

This post is inspirational! You’ve made it look easy!

22 Amber October 15, 2013 at 11:21 am

Thank you so much! And it really wasn’t all that hard, just took my time and made sure I had fully worked up my nerve to do it first. ;)

23 Erin L October 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm

It still makes me lightheaded to see pics of sweater cutting, but it looks fabulous! You rock, Amber!

24 Amber October 15, 2013 at 11:22 am

Here, have a sip of my orange juice and sit for a moment. ;) (And thank you!)

25 Bonnie K October 14, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Very nice! The sweater is beautiful and your text and pictures will be so helpful when I get the courage to try steeking. Thank you!

26 Amber October 15, 2013 at 11:23 am

Thanks Bonnie! Give it a go! I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much worse the worrying about it is than actually doing it.

27 Sue October 14, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Just what I needed! I have a cabled vest that is waiting for me to work up the nerve to make that first cut (handspun yarn from my flock, in a pattern I modified). Your sweater looks great!

28 Amber October 15, 2013 at 11:27 am

Your vest sounds wonderful! Steeking was definitely one of those things that I had myself so worked up about, I couldn’t believe how uneventful it actually was when I finally started cutting. Just take it slowly and it’ll be fine. :)

29 babs707 October 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm

You are brave, and you make me feel like I could do it if I re-read this before I was ready. Do you ever find, when things you dread end up being so uneventful, that you end up continuing to dread them…and then remember you are already done with the dreaded thing? No? Just me? :)

30 Amber October 23, 2013 at 1:37 pm

As I am the Queen of Dread around my parts, I completely understand what you are saying. How many times I have had an internal monologue of sorts that goes, “Oh no! I have to do [thing I'm afraid of] now! What will I do?! How awful! — Oh, wait. I did that already and it turned out just fine. Never mind then.” (To be repeated as needed.) ;)

And you CAN do this! Just have to get over that hump of worry at the end. :)

31 feistykitty October 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Amber! OMG you are amazing! That is beautiful and you’ve made me think maybe I could possibly try steeking sometime! <3

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