I took part in another workshop at Twist recently, involving Fair Isle in the round, two-handed knitting and steeking. The latter, if you don’t know, is where you take a pair of scissors and cut through your knitting. I swear that’s not a joke!
More extraordinary still, the type of knitting that’s usually ‘steeked’ is intricate colourwork that will have taken eons to produce. A typical use for this technique is to take a Fair Isle ‘sweater’ and cut it up the middle to create a cardigan. Yes, I too used to consider this an insanity. The reason given, that Fair Isle is much easier to knit in the round, never sounded to me remotely worth the risk of weeks of painstaking effort unravelling before your eyes.
However, under the careful tutelage of Jane Crowfoot I’ve now given this madness a go.
And here is the result – no fraying!
The secret is the use of 100% wool, in this case Jamiesons Shetland Spindrift, a particularly ‘sticky’ wool at the best of times, which is then blocked and pressed to increase its tendency to magically adhere to itself. After some nifty assembling this long thin strip will turn into a bag, and the ‘steek’ will be oversewn securely, but in the meantime I’m confident that it won’t come undone, and I’m mulling over the idea of larger, more elaborate steeked projects in the future, something I never thought likely!