One of the things I like most about knitting is that on every project there is always something different to do, a new technique to learn or practice. I'm excited when I'm challenged and a lot of the thrill of knitting for me comes from learning something new and just figuring things out. It's also one of the reasons I enjoy taking classes so much. It's a safe place to ask all the silly questions and try things that you know if you keep asking the mavens at the local knit night they're going to get a little annoyed that they aren't getting any of their own knitting done!
Case in point: steeks.
Steeks are, for lack of a better description, a knitting shortcut. But not just any knitting shortcut - a shortcut that involves CUTTING THE YARN of something that you've just knit. Ack! They are particularly common when one is knitting stranded colourwork, and since that's a technique that I'd like to do more of, and I'm knitting something in colourwork right now, I thought it couldn't hurt to take a class so that I'm ready for the finishing when that day arrives.
The lovely GlennaC taught a class this weekend at my fave LYS. Complete with some "restorative" dark chocolate to help us take the edge off that cutting. Here's what we learned:
Technique 1: Just start cutting (make sure you're using 100% wool - and NOT superwash!)
Just keep cutting, just keep cutting... Those long lines of the same colour stitches are the steek. In wool, they help reinforce the edge that's cut so that it doesn't unravel.
There, that wasn't so bad. On yarn other than 100% wool, such as superwash wool or yarn of other fibres, you use a sewing machine to stitch down the steeks and reinforce them FIRST, before cutting.
Another technique (again with 100% wool only) is to crochet the edge of where you are going to be cutting. Looks great in a contrasting colour of yarn - especially if the steek has a chance of being seeing, like the inside edge of a cardigan button band. This method is a little more labour intensive though, if you're not a speedy crocheter (I'm definitely not!).
No sweat! Now I'm knitting like the wind on a super secret project just so I can get to the cutting part! Bring it on!