Many of you have asked if I'd walk through the steeking process as I go here. I'm more than happy to document the process with my camera, but I won't be posting a detailed tutorial. I have decided against a tutorial mostly because there are already some wonderfully comprehensive and accessible ones available for us online that I don't feel need any ammending (I used Eunny's). Feel free, though, to use my posts about steeking as a supplement for other online tutorials. After all, when it comes to cutting your knitting, there's really no such thing as an excess of clear examples showing how this technique actually works (really it does!). I hope this will be another. Today I'm tackling the reinforcement portion of steeking. There are a few ways of reinforcing your steek, the easiest way works only for the stickiest of wools and actually requires no reinforcement at all. If you have a super hairy and sticky yarn, when you make the cut, the wool works like a champ reinforcing itself. This isn't the case for me so I'm gonna need the help of some 3rd party wool. The second method is the machine steek, probably most common with those of us prone to paranoia. It's hard to argue with a reinforcement that's hammered in by your sewing machine. For me though, sewing machines and knitting don't mix so well intuitively (something about a machine harshly pounding into my carefully handcrafted fabric... not to mention a lamentable loss of elasticity). For this sweater, I went with the third method which utilizes crochet chains to reinforce the knitting. This method is loads of fun for those of you who like the technical stuff. You know I love it! First and most important, we must be absolutely sure to use an animal fiber (preferably a 'sticky' one, wool as always is perfect) in a lighter weight than your sweater for the crocheting. I used KnitPicks Telemark, a sport weight wool intended for colorwork, in a mustardy yellow. I decided to use a yarn in a different color to make the process more clear visually (for both you and me) while also adding an interesting accent on the interior of the finished work. Remember that the 5-stitch stockinette area reserved for the steek (including the crochet chains) will be folded in onto the wrong side of the garment after finishing, hiding the yellow chains from view while wearing.
Up One Side motor up one side
Pictured above you see the start of the crochet chain reinforcement. The red wool is in place to clearly indicate where the cutting will occur and to aid in keeping the chaining perfectly in position (red is an appropriate color, I think, for indicating the soon-to-be-cleavedportion of your knitting). Starting from the base of the steek, begin your chain on the left side. Work your way up to the top, cross over to the other (right) side and start chaining your way back down towards the base of the sweater again (see below).
And Back Down the Other and back down the other
In effect, we're quarantining the red area, securing it so completely between chains that the piece will stay together after cutting. I left yarn tails of about 6" at the top and bottom of each chain to thread onto a tapestry needle and secure the tops and bottoms after the cut. This is a safeguard as the CO and BO edges are a little unruly and not easily bound. The completed reinforcements look something like this:
Reinforcing Complete
Notice how nice and neat the red line is framed by the yellow chains. We're now ready to pull out the red wool to reveal a nice tidy ladder of stitches that is just begging to be cut. There's nothing left to do but ready the shears. Stay tuned.

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