Making the Cut with Renee Callahan5:15 PM
Edinburgh Yarn Festival offered a wide array of classes, ranging from Tunisian crochet and darning to short rows and brioche, and everything in between. I wanted to try something new, so my choice was steeking: Making the Cut! by Renee Callahan.
Renee is a lovely and inspirational teacher, and she started by telling us about her knitting background. Following that, everyone got to introduce themselves and tell a little bit about their knitting history and whether they had ever tried steeking. This was one of the most interesting parts of the class: we had a group of knitters from Sweden, Germany, Canada, US, Finland, and UK (I'm sorry if I forgot anyone!). Most had learned to knit as a child, but there were also people - such as Renee herself - who had learned to knit as an adult. Most of the students, including me, had never tried steeking before, but some had steeked several cardigans. A lot of variation in experience, that is!
We had homework before the class, so everyone brought three swatches that were to be cut open. I enjoyed doing the homework, because I can't even remember the last time I did stranded knitting (except for the Welcome to Finland socks more than a year ago, but a little Finnish flag hardly counts as stranded work).
The first technique we learned was the crochet method. That was pretty straight forward, and we got to make the first cut! Nothing unraveled, and it looks pretty neat.
The second method we learned was sewing. You can see the purple yarn on the left side that was used to secure the stitches. What is also visible is that the result is not very pretty. You would need to add a ribbon to cover the ends, or make a steak sandwich cover, such as the one on the right side. I like the way the sandwich looks like, but I wouldn't use it for a button band - maybe a blanket or an open cardigan.
The third method we tried was the most laborious: knotting. It means that you unravel the steek stitches in pairs, cut them in half, knot the two strands together, and weave in the ends. That is some weaving in! You can see from the picture above that I almost finished my tiny swatch in class, but for some reason didn't feel like finishing it after class. Many people in class swore that this would be their first and last try of the knotting method! This would be a good method for slippery yarn, but, in my opinion, it would be even better to choose a non-superwash wool to work with in the first phase.
We also learned to pick up stitches from the steek, first for a simple button band and then a sandwich version. All ready to move to garments now!
There are several good tutorials about steeking online, both photo tutorials (Kate Davies' is a great example) and YouTube videos, so it would be possible to learn the techniques on your own. However, it is so much more fun to learn with other knitters and make new friends while doing it. Thank you, Renee, for a great class, and thank you all my class mates for making it such a nice experience!
Now I feel all inspired for some stranded work with steeks - maybe the Cherry Bloom by Lene Tosti or Bruntsfield by Ysolda Teague. Or do you have any other suggestions?