New episodes every Tuesday!
Feb. 15, 2022

61: Steeking

61: Steeking

Get your scissors ready - we're hacking up our knitting! This week's question is about winding yarn ahead of knitting it.

This week we're tackling the less-scary-than-it-seems issue of steeking your projects. Cardigans, armholes, necklines - your scissors are your friend, we promise.

Anatomy of a Steek: 

Securing a Steek

Finishing a Steek

Kate Davies' helpful blog post with great photos of different steek finishes: What is a Steek
An example of how to add a steek panel to a pullover pattern: Dissent Cardigan Hack

What's on our needles this week:

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Karen: Hi, and welcome to Make Good, the podcast about yarn and knitting from scratch supply code. We're recording today in downtown Lebanon, New Hampshire, and we're really excited to be here. I'm Karen. 

Jessica:And I'm Jessica. 

 Karen: I’m scared of the episode this week. It's a little a little scary.

 Jessica: But it's also kind of exciting.

 Karen: So we're going to be talking about steeking.

 Jessica: Yay.

 Karen: Finally, Jessica has YAY feelings about this. I do not for reasons that we've talked about in previous episodes. The one time I tried to do this, it didn't go well. So we're going to learn about how to make it go less badly.

 Jessica: In fairness, I think that all of us as knitters have the potential to make horrible mistakes or feel betrayed by our yarn. So you're not the only one.

 Karen: We should probably tell everybody what steeking is in case somebody's not familiar just feels like a scary word. Steeking is spelled S-T-E-E-K-I-N-G.

 Jessica: So if you're trying to look up YouTube tutorials or Google it for any reason and you'll need to fight with your auto, correct? Yes, because autocorrect definitely wants that word to be steak. S-T-E-A-K. 

Karen: No. 

Jessica:Yes, it surely does. And it's super not what you're looking for. So if you search for steek and you get prime rib T bones, I don't know. It's because autocorrect is betraying you.

 Karen: Okay, so Jessica, what is it?

 Jessica: So steeking is a technique and it allows you to knit something completely in the round and then make changes to it that allow for different features in your garment, like armholes or different neck openings or front openings. I think people most commonly associate steeking with cardigans. 


Jessica:Like you're going to knit a sweater completely in the round and then you just cut the front of it open. And that's what I mean when I say make changes. You are actually taking scissors to your knitting and cutting up an entire column of stitches, or maybe a partial column. Maybe you're making like a placket neck and a Henley or just those armholes so it doesn't have to be cut from top to bottom. You're doing some shaping.

 Karen: Okay. So I can picture what you would have to cut to make a pullover into a cardigan. I can visualize what that looks like. When you say cutting armholes, do you mean - are the sleeves already made? Are you like steeking twice and then seaming? What is that? I don't understand that.

 Jessica: So when you're steeking armholes, some of it will have to do with the designer's specifics. But you're knitting in the round through the yoke and you are cutting the arm size. So the length from the top of the shoulder down to the armpit. And it might just be a straight line, like down a single column of stitches. But there could also be shaping to it, depending on the inside of the shoulder or the shaping of the shoulder. And the yoke of this sweater. And then you will either inset and attach an already knit sleeve, whether that's also knitting around, because the chances are good it has color work. Or you can have a flat sleeve that you'll seam and attach, or you can pick up stitches and knit down. There are lots of options for doing this. Okay.

 Karen: But it's not like you have knit the entire sweater as one big tube and you're steeking to separate the arms from the body.

 Jessica: No. You're knitting the sweater as one big tube, and then you're cutting holes, seaming the top of the shoulder and then popping on some arms. Karen's face is amazing.

 Karen: The geometry of that is kind of messing with my head a little bit.

 Jessica: Diagrams are super helpful when you're thinking about shaping with steeks. But let's talk some more about what steeks are. It's a helpful technique primarily associated with colorwork, because when you're knitting stranded colorwork, if you're only knitting in the round, your tension is going to be more even, because for most knitters, your knit stitch and your Purl stitches are a little different from one another. And you don't have to deal with the struggle of trying to keep track of your floats and your tension pearling across the backside of a stranded colorwork piece of fabric.

 Karen: Right. Depending on how you knit in the first place, that's maybe a little clumsy because it's not something you do a lot, I guess. Also depending a little bit on your hands, for sure.

 Jessica: And I think that depending on the yarn that you're using, too, it can be more or less difficult to see what you're looking at when you're carrying those floats on the purl side because you're not really seeing the fabric because you've got so many floats stacked up underneath the back side of the fabric. 


Jessica:So it's much more complicated, in my opinion, to purl stranded color work than it is to just knit and work on the outside of your work. That said, sometimes people steek single color projects, too.

 Karen: Oh, sure.

 Jessica: They don't have to be done in color work.

 Karen: Some people just really don't like purling and will do things like reimagine the garment to avoid having to do it.

 Jessica: Which is awesome, good on them. So let's talk about some of the benefits of steeking in your project. You avoid purls. Like Karen said, some people have the strong aversion to purling. I think I used to be like that in my early years of knitting. I was like, purling is dumb. That was a very unskilled and uninformed opinion that I had. I was just like, I don't like doing this. It's awkward and slow. It's not my jam.

 Karen: There's only two stitches. You can't just throw one of them all the way out the window.

 Jessica: And I didn't throw it all the way out the window. But I was like, how could I do this less? And me asking that question did not lead me to steeking. I will say that right now because I don't steek often. But at some point I got better at Purling and was less grouchy about it.

 Karen: Sure.

 Jessica: But that version totally valid. Maybe you don't like a knit stitch. Maybe you only like to purl. Everyone's got their own thing.

 Karen: We were talking earlier about people's tension being different with knits and purls, and that will vary wildly depending on the knitter. But if you are somebody who has a big variation between those two, steeking will allow you to create your garment in a way that will eliminate those tension changes. Because you're just knitting.

 Jessica: When you're knitting only on the right side of your fabric and color work, it helps you hide your color changes better. And also, there are fewer ends to weave in, and I had to really consider that. Like, what does that mean? Why are there fewer ends to weave in? But if you're planning on steeking your project and you're carrying your floats and you're having an easier time of managing them, it's easier to hide, like, long carries of color up the inside. Oh, sure, you could probably do that if you were purling too, but I think it's just an easier way to do it.

 Karen: I could say that for myself as somebody who struggles with string management. 

Jessica:Yeah, you do. 

Karen:If I were purling color work, I would be more tempted to cut because it's like too many strings. I would be more tempted to just be like, I'll deal with this later would come upon me and I'd be like, oh, darn it, what have I done? Last week Karen made me a problem.

 Jessica: So this can all feel a little bit overwhelming. But don't be overwhelmed thinking about this, because I would like to give you some context for the benefit of the time that you live in, like, this day today, knitter friends, you have access to a whole world of resources. When speaking was invented as a technique, it was developed by Shetland knitters on the Islands. They were knitting fair aisle sweaters, and it was definitely pre-internet. They didn't have Reddit groups about knitting. They didn't have Zoom to call a knitting friend or a local yarn shop. They didn't have any of that. There were no step by step tutorials online anywhere. Forget about a YouTubes. So it's a doable thing and you have so much support. So don't be scared. We're here to help you.

 Karen: In fairness, when this was invented, I think super wash yarn also didn't exist.

 Jessica: Fiber was less complicated.

 Karen: And I will say the time steeking went wrong for me, it was my choice of yarn that did me in. I set myself up for failure by trying it for the first time with superwash fingering weight yarn that was a neon yellow color that my eyeballs couldn't focus on.

 Jessica: Yes, that was hard. It was hard to watch you knit that.

 Karen: But when steeking was invented, the yarn that was commonly used was sort of the optimal yarn for at least your first attempt at this technique, which was sticky and grabby and setting yourself up for success by not having a yarn that's going to slippery run away from you.

 Jessica: You've probably heard before from other knitters or your own experience or your yarn shop or wherever that when you're doing color work, untreated. By untreated, I mean not super wash natural wool. That's kind of grabby is best for color work because those stitches want to hug up next to each other. You want to do a color work sweater, an alpaca silk blend might not be your best first option because it's really slippery. But like a nice, plumpy, sticky Shetland wool or anything that's got a little grab to it is going to be nice. It's going to behave for you. If you pull your needles out accidentally, those stitches aren't just going to crumple and fall apart. You're going to have a nice little row of chubby little stitches that are just waiting for the needle to come back. Okay.

 Karen: So can you tell us a little bit about what the anatomy of a steek looks like?

 Jessica: Yes. A steek is cut in the center of a panel that's called a bridge. A lot of times people will just say, like your steeking panel, but like, the technical term for that set of stitches in your fabric is called the bridge. And most commonly, steeks are worked over an odd number of stitches. Small steek panels have a minimum of five stitches. I've seen steek panels be instructed to be as wide as nine stitches. I'm going to mention this because it's less common, but someone will send us a note to tell me there are even numbered steek panels as well. With an odd number steek panel, you're cutting that center one in an even number steek panel. So if they're like ten stitches, your center numbers are stitches number five and six. If you kind of stretch your fabric and pull those apart a little bit, you'll see the latter joining stitch five and six. That's where you'll be cutting. Instead of in the center of a stitch, you'll be cutting in between two stitches.

 Karen: Okay. Because this is something I just mentally struggle with a lot of the time. Let's all just take a moment. We're going to close our eyes and we're going to visualize a column of stitches and our sharp little scissors, and we're going to just zoop right up it. Depending on whether you've knit top down or bottom up, you are either looking at a column of Vs with the open part facing up, or you're looking at a column of Vs with the open part facing down. Because I have a really hard time sometimes telling the difference between the space in between my two stitches and just mentally inverting that stitch.

 Jessica: Sure.

 Karen: That's something that you're going to need to keep in mind as you're identifying which column to cut is how you made that column and what it's going to look like.

 Jessica: Yes. And one of the ways that you make that process easier for yourself if you're seeking a color work project is that when you're knitting your bridge, you are alternating colors across your bridge, and that changes as you travel up your steek. So if you were knitting we're just going to use a five stitch bridge as the example. Say I am knitting a sweater that just has color work in the yolk for the sake of simplicity. And it's a two color sweater. So I'm knitting a red sweater with white color work.

 Karen: What could go wrong?

 Jessica: Like a number of things, but it's a high contrast, easy to visualize example. So we're going to roll with it. We're doing red and white color work all over this sweater. I don't know. It's a Santa sweater. It's very festive. There are snowflakes. Envision with me. So you're going to be alternating the color work in your bridge. So if you have like a big section of red, that's primarily the main color, but you're carrying the white as the color work in that section, you can alternate so that your stitches one in five that are touching your main fabric are white. Stitches two and four are red and stitch three in the center. Your center line stitch will also be white.

 Karen: Oh, so then you're just cutting up the center of your white stitch, in this case.

 Jessica: Yep. Sometimes you'll see just sections of it having the color work because they break up. So your color work doesn't necessarily travel the whole thing all the time. But maybe you have color work at the bottom of your sweater. So you do the alternating rows there and then there's like an expanse of one color. So your bridge is just all one color and then up in the yoke, that happens again. So you alternate those colors so it's either every other stitch or sometimes you'll see bridges knit in a checked pattern. It'll be stitches one, three, and five are white. And then on the next round, stitches one, three, and five will be red, and two and four will alternate between red and white as well. So you're staggering those colors. They're both common visual techniques in a steek bridge, but to Additionally make it easier to follow your cutting line as part of the securing your steek process. The first step lots of knitters take is wasting your center stitch because it helps you keep your place. And if you're not familiar with what basting is, it's most often a sewing term. It's when you're using a needle and thread. Here you'll just use some yarn, like a contrast color yarn, and you're running big loose stitches so it will go in at the bottom and then like an inch up, you'll put your needle back in. It's just like a running stitch that goes up that center column of your bridge so that you can see that's where the center column is.

 Karen: Right. Really the thing that could go wrong at this stage is you lose track of that column and you like veer off to the right or the left. So anything you can do to simplify that for yourself, you're setting yourself up for success.

 Jessica: Absolutely. And as an aside, that basting stitches just like a visual guideline, like you're not securing anything. It's just to help you look at it and it will come out as you're doing your final stages of your steek.

 Karen: I almost think with my vast experience with this and my immense success that I've had 100% of the time, I almost think that I would prefer to base the two stitches on either side of the stitch that I'm cutting. Tell me why that's a bad idea.

 Jessica: It's not necessarily a bad idea. It depends on how wide your bridge is. If your bridge is five stitches wide, you need to be securing stitch two and stitch four. So you don't want to base those because that's where you're securing happens. But if you have a seven stitch wide bridge or a nine stitch wide bridge, you can base the two stitches around the center stitch as your visual guide and then secure further out.

 Karen: Oh, cool.

 Jessica: A wider bridge gives you a larger edge to turn under and do your finished work on.

 Karen: Can we talk about the creation of this bridge? Because let's say you're doing this for the first time because you want to turn a pullover into a cardigan. So there aren't actually instructions for the steek. Did we just talk about this on a recent episode last week?

 Jessica: Angela asked us about this, and we didn't talk about specifically how to do it. We just told her that was one of her two options.

 Karen: Right. So you're thinking about these five or seven or nine stitches, you're casting those on as additional stitches.

 Jessica: But not in your initial pass. I think your inclination is to but you don't need your bridge to go all the way up to your collar or to the bottom of your hem. My initial thoughts were to do that, too, but I did a little reading. If you're knitting a top down sweater, you would cast on your collar stitches. And if it's a ribbed collar, you just knit the ribbing flat. And then when you get down until the actual knitting so you're done with the ribbing and it's just your stock in it, then you will cast on your five or seven stitches and join in the round, which now that I've considered that, it makes it easier because once I tried to do that by casting on extra stitches and I couldn't figure out what I had done right. Because my pattern wasn't written for the beginning of my round, being at the front center of my neck.

 Karen: Oh, right.

 Jessica: So you will need to account for where the designer tells you your beginning of round stitch marker will be and place a beginning of round stitch marker there, though that's not necessarily where your steek panel is.

 Karen: Right. So you don't have an arm coming out of your shoulder blade and an arm coming out of your sternum or something.

 Jessica: Yes. Arm placement is important. If you haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it, your arms are where they are. You need the sweater to cooperate. So let's talk about a couple of the securing methods.

 Karen: Sure. So this is what you're doing on either side of the stitch that you're cutting to keep it from going wildly wrong once you take your scissors to this thing. Okay.

 Jessica: And as we know from experience, sometimes that can happen. But the more information you have, the better prepared you are to stop it. As an aside, the reason that cutting your sweater is not as terrifying as it sounds is that knitting unravels vertically.

 Karen: Oh, true.

 Jessica: We create those stitches horizontally working across a row. But when you drop a stitch, it doesn't run sideways, it just falls down in a column.

 Karen: Right.

 Jessica: So in theory, if you have cooperative yarn and secure edges, you shouldn't have to be too worried about this because things don't want to run horizontally, they just want to fall vertically.

 Karen: Okay.

 Jessica: So the first way to do this is a crochet technique. Okay. I'm really bad at that. I've done it once, and I'm terrible at it. But basically what you're doing is you're taking contrast yarn. You've got a hook that's smaller than the needles you knit your project on because you need your crochet stitches to be smaller than your knit stitches here.

 Karen: Okay.

 Jessica: If they're the same size or bigger, you're going to get a wacky like ruffled edge. So if you knit your stitches of your sweater on a five millimeter, use like a three millimeter hook to do the single crochet. If you are left handed, you're going to work up the right side and down the left side. If you're a lefty crochet and if you're a righty, you're going to work up the left side and down the right side. And that's because those single crochet stitches will lean in different directions depending on which direction you're working up and down your fabric on. But in our five stitch bridge example, you're doing this single crochet on stitches two and four. Once you've crocheted that and secured it, what happens is the tension of the crochet stitches are going to kind of pull on the legs of that center stitch. It pulls them apart so they open up a little bit, and you can see the ladder that runs up the center of stitches.

 Karen: That's handy.

 Jessica: Yeah. It's kind of amazing to watch it open up. And that's where you're going to be cutting. If you are fumbling with a crochet hook. And the crochet hook is scarier than the actual steeking. That's me. There are other options for you. You can hand sew your steeks to be secured, and you can do that with actual sewing needle. An actual thread.

 Karen: Okay, so not yarn.

 Jessica: No. If you're sewing your steeks, you'll want to use sewing thread.

 Karen: Can we do an aside? There are probably people listening to this who also sew. And so they have thread that they purchased in the last decade. If you are not somebody who also sells, you may also have thread.

 Jessica: Oh, no, not old thread.

 Karen: Right.

 Jessica: This is a very good point.

 Karen: Karen thread has an expiration date on it when it's in a spool. If you have, as I do, your grandmother's sewing basket with thread that she put in it in 1951, go buy another spool of thread. Yes, you should. But you don't want to get halfway up and it breaks or even worse, halfway through cutting and it breaks. Thread kind of dry rots after a while in the spool.

 Jessica: Yep, it dry rots. It can get sun damage if you're like. I love these decorative spools of thread from Nana. I leave them out where I can see them and love the colors. No, you've destroyed that thread. It's no longer functional for you. And when Karen said there's an expiration date on your school, not literally, right. Not like a Twinkie or something. It's just time is your enemy here.

 Karen: Yeah.

 Jessica: So you're doing this in the same place as the crochet, securing up stitch two upstitch, four in our five stitch example, if you're hand sewing, I've seen it recommended from numerous sources to do it twice.

 Karen: Oh, just do it twice.

 Jessica: It's going to take you a couple of minutes, but then you're going to have the sweater for a long time.

 Karen: It's going to take you a lot less time than Pearling. All that color work would have for sure. I don't know if people are familiar with what backstitching is, so we'll link to a tutorial. It's fairly intuitive, but we'll link to a tutorial because we're nice.

 Jessica: We're helpers.

 Karen: Okay, so here's Jessica's preferred technique, and it scares the life out of me. And that is you get out your sewing machine and do some kind of wizardry.

 Jessica: This is for sure my favorite. My first speaking adventures were with crochet, and I was like, there has to be a different way because I do not love this machine. Sewing is my jam, so you can use a straight stitch up. Stitches two and four. Do it twice as if you were hand stitching. That is totally an option. My preferred method, though, is a zigzag stitch. A couple of pro tips here. If you're going to zigzag stitch your steeks, you need good lighting. First of all, because you need to be able to focus on column two and on column four and not be drifting wild. Right. The other thing you need to do is check that you can adjust the width of your stitches. Some sewing machines only do zigzag stitch, and that zigzag stitch is only one width. If that width is much narrower or much wider than your actual knit stitch columns not a good option for you. But if you can adjust the width so that it's the same width as your stitch and you can just Boop back and forth over that column two and column four, you're securing both of them, then you can just zigzag your way down.

 Karen: So wait, when you're doing this, you have the needle on your sewing machine and you're aiming that needle basically through the yarn or on the outside of the stitch.

 Jessica: So when I do this with a zigzag, I go back and forth around that stitch like I'm jumping over it side to side. You need to go very slowly. So turn the speed on your machine all the way down so you don't get nervous and lean on your presser foot pedal and send it through the because it will distort your knitting so nice and slow. And you kind of just push it through and voila, it's secure. Those are not really going anywhere. And you'll see that it pulls those stitches that secured stitches pulled away from the center stitch. There's tension on it from the sewing thread. And it's easier to see stitch three because two and four are being pulled out and away from it. Okay.

 Karen: As somebody who doesn't sew, I'm going to say at all, I have questions. How do you put a tube with arms on it through a sewing machine in a way that the arms don't pull it in a direction that you don't want it to go? I'm picturing the sort of bulk of fabric that at some point because you're concentrating, right. At least for me, the time I did this, it was like adrenaline, tunnel vision. You're concentrating, and then you have this mass of arm.

 Jessica: Yeah.

 Karen: You leave that at some point it's going to hit the side of your machine.

 Jessica: You're not going fast enough that it should hit the side of anything. Okay. This is not like a bus. You're very slowly feeding the fabric, and you need to pay attention to make sure that you just have the top layer, just the front of your sweater. So you're kind of adjusting and rolling that fabric through. So you're not also securing the front of your sweater to the back of your sweater. You're just kind of pushing and slowly squishing things around. And when you get up to the point in the yoke where now you've got an arm in the way, you just kind of take that arm and tuck it through so it's hanging out of the back of your sewing machine and no longer in your way, you're going slow enough that at any point you can take your foot off the pedal and stop.

 Karen: Right.

 Jessica: Adjust your fabric and then continue going.

 Karen: Okay, this is very slow.

 Jessica: I mean, faster than hand stitching, but this is a concentrated, careful process. If you're going fast enough that you need to worry about arms flying around like you are doing a different thing than I've done and I don't know how to support you.

 Karen: This is why I'm not a seller, because I feel like the machine moves too fast for me.

 Jessica: It can go very slow, but I think that maybe the chaos energy that you bring to the process makes you want to go faster.

 Karen: Right?

 Jessica: Anyways, machine securing your steeks are the most secure way to deal with slippery fibers.

 Karen: Oh, smart.

 Jessica: So super wash wool, alpaca, plant fibers, things that don't want to cooperate, get them to submit with your sewing machine.

 Karen: Okay, what about the most chaotic of chaos methods where you don't secure anything?

 Jessica: Hold onto your needles, friends, because this is a real thing. Some people just cut.

 Karen: I would like to think this was the original method.

 Jessica: It's probably the original and one that continues to exist if you've got very grippy yarn. So like a nice woolly feeling, Shetland wool or some Lopez, you're doing one of those beautiful like ski sweaters and you're using actual loopy yarn, Icelandic sheep things that have lots of tooth Enos to it. Just take your scissors and cut. Be free. I feel like these are the uninhibited knitters who are just like universe. You'll take care of my knitting. Believe in the process.

 Karen: Apart from just the general feeling, this feels pretty safe.

 Jessica: Yeah, this is all just an emotional journey, friend.

 Karen: Oh yeah.

 Jessica: Get past your hurdle and assess the materials that you have in front of you so you can make your best choices.

 Karen: Speaking of materials, should you grab your enormous kitchen Shears to do the cutting?

 Jessica: I mean, maybe if you have like a big bulky project, but chances are your stitches are pretty small. So maybe not the kitchen Shears, but very sharp is important. Maybe if your kitchen Shears, it's those or the sad safety scissors that you use to saw open your Amazon boxes. Don't get the sticky dull ones. Use your sharpest. Best option, but really like very sharp embroidery. Snips are great or like sewing Shears, you just want a very sharp edge because if your scissors are not sharp or they have tape or glue on the blades, you're going to be trying to saw through your stitches. And that's not best practice.

 Karen: I hadn't thought about sewing.

 Jessica: Cheers.

 Karen: That's smart. That would probably work really well cause you're cutting fabric.

 Jessica: I've even seen people use Rotary cutters, which stresses me out a little bit because they're just so sharp and I'm so clumsy. Right. I've definitely hurt myself with Rotary cutters before. So the thought of just like whoop up the front of a sweater a little stressful for me. Scissors feel like they reduce the chances of you accidentally cutting the other side of your fabric.

 Karen: Okay, so you have done the scary thing. You have set your scissors or your Rotary cutter or the hamster. You're going to have chew its way up to the stitches to the side. And now you have two sides of something that used to be connected. And what now?

 Jessica: Well, now you are triumphant and you pump your fists in the air and pour yourself a Celsius or some other celebratory beverage. But now you've got to finish your steek. And I'm just going to take you on a quick journey through some of your options, because some of them are functional choices. Well, they're all functional choices, but some are different degrees of aesthetic. So if you have crocheted your secure lines of your steek, you don't have to do anything because that single crochet stitch is securing those stitches. The securing has already happened. And you can just kind of let those hang out on the inside of your brand spanking new cardigan and let them felt over time. Because you definitely don't want to use super wash yarn ever to secure a steek. So you're letting your woolly wool do its thing. And whatever front finish work, whether you're doing a button band or just like a neckline, that's totally your aesthetic choice. We're just focused on the steep.

 Karen: Right. We should maybe mention that because as you're picturing this happening, you have this cut piece of fabric. You are very likely coming back and doing something to that new edge. You are going to be adding a button band or you're going to be adding a zipper.

 Jessica: At the very least.

 Karen: You'Re going to be doing some decorative work. But it's not just going to be. Now you've made a cardigan that has fringe.

 Jessica: I mean, we did predict the Dicky, Karen. Perhaps it's the next look.

 Karen: Okay, so if you didn't do a crocheted edge, what do you do?

 Jessica: Okay, so you can take your section of bridge, like your little bridge flap, and just fold it to the inside of your sweater and you can hand stitch it into place, use that sewing thread or use a much lighter weight yarn and just kind of, like, catch it on the inside of your stitches. So your needles never poking through to the front side of your fabric and just kind of tack it down. Blanket stitch is a good option for that. But really, whatever works for you is fine. You can also hide it, fold it to the inside, and stitch down some ribbon over it like a gross grain ribbon of some sort.

 Karen: Oh, so you're still hand stitching in that case?

 Jessica: Yeah, I did that with my rhinbeck sweater one year. It was like Rhein Beck morning.

 Karen: And I was like.

 Jessica: I'm almost done with this ribbon.

 Karen: That would be a cool chance to add something contrasty and like a secret detail.

 Jessica: Yeah, definitely. I have little rainbow ribbons running down the inside of my very not rainbow sweater. So I can just like flash knitters be like boom, rainbow.

 Karen: I have heard of something called a steek sandwich and I don't know what that is.

 Jessica: My first steeking process was a steek sandwich and I used a crochet edge to secure my steeks. And then I cut my steek and then I was like, this looks horrible. What did I do? Because I think my crochet hook wasn't small enough. The edge was kind of roughly and I was like, I got to fix this. So I did some reading about steek finishing options and a steek sandwich and boy, autocorrect is going to bite you on that one.

 Karen: Yeah.

 Jessica: Steek sandwich is when you pick up stitches all the way up the front of your sweater as if to knit your button band and bring it around to the inside of your sweater and you pick up stitches all the way down the backside of your sweater. And then you are knitting basically like a tube around that edge. So you're knitting fabric up around it. You're making a sandwich like that's the bread and the little cut crocheted edge is the filling. And then you will close that off either with Kitchener stitch or three needle bind off. Or when I did it, I did an icoured edge so I could incorporate button holes in that I court edge and it's just like a squishy little pocket of knitting at the front edge of your cardigan. It's pretty cute.

 Karen: I think we have that one in the store.

 Jessica: We do? Yeah.

 Karen: It's a shop sample steek sandwich.

 Jessica: Alright.

 Karen: And then there are a couple of other methods that are available only to those with a strong Constitution.

 Jessica: So there is a technique called a knotted steek and your bridge is unraveled and then cut. So I think you just drop down all those bridge stitches.

 Karen: Oh. Which would be kind of nice because then you're looking at big long strings and kind of terrifying because you're dropping stitches because you got like spaghetti fingers down the whole length.

 Jessica: So you cut and then you have these fringe edges to secure them. You tie a knot at every single end and then this is not for people who hate weaving in ends. You're going to take your darning needle or a little crochet hook if they're not long enough for a darning needle and you're going to work them back into the fabric that they're coming out of.

 Karen: That's wild. It is.

 Jessica: It's kind of neat looking. It's very tidy and it is slow. So it's for people who like, love the process.

 Karen: I don't think there's really any way to speak that will get you out of doing a fair amount of finishing work. On some level, you're making up for the work you got out of by not having to Perl with just this one thing. That's true.

 Jessica: It's just different work.

 Karen: Unless your method of speaking is the diligent application of time guess so.

 Jessica: Another option for finishing your steek is not finishing your steek.

 Karen: This, I will say, would not work on Superwash.

 Jessica: No.

 Karen: It will only work on something that you could felt regularly.

 Jessica: Yeah. So you're just going to cut your steek and then you're going to make your button band or edge work whatever you're doing to finish your sweater. But that steek just lives its life. And over time and where it will felt, it will resolve its own issues. Just use your wooliest wools for that kind of process. And because you can maybe take some pictures every six months or a year to document its evolution, because it's going to do what it does and it was no additional work for you.

 Karen: And this really will work best, obviously, with something with quite a bit of grab to it. Lopez prime self felting material, like a really Wooly Shetland, that kind of thing. I'd like to think this is also the original technique in the show notes.

 Jessica: We're going to add a link to Kate Davies blog post about steeking, where she has shared a number of great photos of different steek finishes. And amongst them, there is an unfinished steek that is old. I don't know, it was steeped in the 50s or something, and it has just kind of felt it on its own.

 Karen: Okay, I'm going to do this. I am going to replace my bad experience with a good experience with seeking. I'm going to do it with a Swatch so I don't have emotional attachment to it. I'm going to make a Swatch out of like, some wool stock or something, and we're going to see what happens.

 Jessica: It will be good. I support you. I encourage you all to experiment. There are lots of tutorials online and everyone's going to like a different process.

 Karen: So, Jessica, what's on your needles? Right now?

 Jessica: I'm still working on my source very slowly. Lots of stocking it in the skirt. And I have not gotten to the fun part yet where I color work, knit my patch pockets and steek them, nor the yoke, where I knit the chest as a tube and then steek my armholes so it's in my future, but I'm not even nearly close yet.

 Karen: Wait, your pattern has staked armholes in it? Yeah. Oh, my gosh.

 Jessica: Yeah. The dresses knit as a tube. And then you just continue knitting a tube for the bodice, basically. And then you cut the color work open and then do finish work around the arms and across the neckline.

 Karen: Okay. With the understanding that it's happening in the time that it happens, you're going to have to document that a little bit.

 Jessica: I'll try and remember to take pictures because I've never staked in this particular way, only the front of cardigan. So this will be interesting. What's on your needles, Karen?

 Karen: Socks. I'm doing so many socks. The ones I've been working on primarily are still the Amber wing socks. I've got a couple of other projects going on that I keep not knitting as many hours as I would like to, but that's how it goes sometimes. Alright. Jessica?

 Jessica: Yes Karen?

 Karen: Are you ready for a letter?

 Jessica: That was a lot of steeking, but maybe, yeah, I think I can do it.

 Karen: This week's letter comes from Ally. Hi Ali, I typically wind all of the yarn I need for a project or two at one time. I've recently stumbled across videos and posts online that have me wondering if that's the proper approach. Is it bad for the yarn to be in a cake or ball for too long? And what's the proper approach when it comes to winding yarn? That's a good question, Ally.

 Jessica: I think that if you're winding yarn for projects that you're actually about to start working on, you're fine. You don't need to be concerned with winding up. Forest Gains Worsted Weight To knit something and having it take the time it takes to knit it. The cautionary tale about winding yarn is winding it and then putting it away for extended periods and not like coming back to that project in two months. It sits in your stash for twelve years right in your attic or your basement, just tucked away. Long term storage. Because when you wind your yarn, whether it's with a Swift and a ball Winder or your hand binding the balls, winding it up puts tension on the fiber and over long periods of time that tension will have adverse effects on your stored yarn. But not like six months or even a year. I think that you're probably okay. The only other thing to really consider is do you want to wind all of the yarn? If you're not sure you need all of the yarn right? If I am knitting a sweater and I think I need to wind ten Scanes of yarn, maybe I wind six skins of yarn because I'm positive I will go through that much. But partway through knitting I might decide, you know what? The sweater is not getting sleeves. I've definitely done that before. There are numerous skeins that are totally irrelevant. That's going to be a hot Sunday. But I'm tired of knitting with this yarn. So not this year. Like it doesn't need to sit around in a cake. Maybe you can wait with those, but even if you did wind all of them, it's okay.

 Karen: It's probably technically better for long term storage to have it in a Hank or a bullet or whatever the original put up was. But live your yarn life, it's going to be okay.

 Jessica: Yeah, but I think you're okay. Ali. If you're picking a project and selecting your yarn and then winding for one or two, that yarn is okay.

 Karen: Should we do a make good stash down check in?

 Jessica: You all are busting. Sashes, you've missed me so much so quickly. And it is the beginning of February still so there is a lot to come. We're posting your pictures in our stories on Instagram though and pretty soon I'll make a highlight so you can just access them all in one place. But we are thrilled to see how many stash based projects you've started or works in progress. You're finishing.

 Karen: It's so much fun to watch and you can join at any time.

 Jessica: We've gotten a couple of questions asking if it's too late to join. PSA is what I say to that. There are rules, but barely. If you want to join the knit along, just start working on your project. If you want us to see your project and have you be considered as a potential prize winner at the end, you need to use the hashtag makegoodstashdown. Please don't put a year on that. I'm not looking at other hashtag, just one because there are so many. It's the only way I can keep track of them. But hashtag makegoodstashdown and if you want to be eligible to win the prize at the end, you need to also follow the Make Good Pod account and the Scratch Supply Co account. But you don't need to finish by the end of the knit along. No, we support you at whatever stage of your knitting you're in.

 Karen: I think that might be it for us this week. You can listen to us anywhere.

 Jessica: You get your audio podcasts rate and review us. It will help other knitters find us. Tell your friends everyone loves word of mouth.

 Karen: You can follow us on Instagram at makegoodpod. We'll be posting some videos of me getting over my steek anxiety.

 Jessica: Big, big thank you to our Patreon supporters.

 Karen: We appreciate you.

 Jessica: You're fantastic. You're the best. You help us keep doing this every week and never have advertising.

 Karen: You can visit our website and check out all the show notes. They're also available maybe by swiping in some direction on whatever app you use.

 Jessica: To get podcasts and send us your questions, you can use the contact form on our website. You can send us an email directly to or click on the little microphone at the bottom of our website.

 Karen: But leave us a voicemail.

 Jessica: We'll talk to you next week. Bye.