Steeking Tutorial for Hyphenated
To purchase the Hyphenated knitting pattern on Ravelry, click here.
For many–if not most–knitters, the idea of steeking evokes feelings of trepidation, anxiety and discomfort. It is only natural to feel this way, given that steeking involves slicing up your hard-earned knitted garment. Attempting it willy nilly with no plan would be downright scary, which is why I have spent hours researching how I wanted to steek my second Hyphenated sample.
For my first steeking I used a crochet reinforcement. While there are more experienced crochet hook wielders out there, I do think my crochet reinforcement would have worked fine had my yarn not been Superwash. The stickier the wool, the more the cut edges will felt together and thus, the better the reinforcement will hold up, which makes Superwash less conducive for steeking. When I steeked my Nelchina cardigan, the crochet reinforcement did not hold up. You can read about it here.
However, I rarely knit with non-Superwash wool, and as it turns out, the La Bien Aimée Super Sock that I used for my Hyphenated design is composed of 75% Superwash Merino (and 25% nylon). I had long decided that I would reinforce my next steeking by sewing by hand or machine, but given the smoothness of the yarn and “Superwash” on the label, a sewn reinforcement was a must for me. For this steeking, I opted for a machine sewn reinforcement, but you can just as easily use the crochet reinforcement (Tin Can Knits has an excellent tutorial here) or sew by hand.
If you have any questions or need help, ask away in the comments below!
Please note that the steeked version of Hyphenated is untested. You may use these instructions for steeking any garment, but they may need to be adjusted first. If you are a pattern designer, you may use these instructions for your pattern so long as you credit me.
Gently steam your garment as needed to prepare for steeking. You can use a handheld steamer (as I did), hang it in the shower room, or moisten it by spraying. The ribbed hem of my sweater was rolling up, so I steamed it to get it to lay flat. If your colorwork is tight, you should probably do a rough block of the yoke as well. I chose not to do a full block because I wanted my ribbed bands to block with the garment.
Locate the front center knit column of your garment and place a removable marker through that column. If you think you may want to steek a garment before you’ve begun, I recommend marking the center front early on. For my Hyphenated sample, which was knit top-down, I had cast on 144 stitches for the neckband, so I counted over to the 72nd stitch from the back yarn tail and placed my marker through the 73rd stitch. Technically the center lies between the two stitches, but this is close enough.
Place pins down the vertical length of the entire center column to mark the steek. I pin liberally! I recommend pinning through short sections of the column to help prevent the pins from sliding out. Another option would be to use a chalk pen that is designed for marking garments.
Count over two or three columns to mark the column you will be reinforcing. I counted three columns over to the right (toward the wearer’s left) in order to give myself more of a flap to sew down and pinned the entire column with baby blue pins.
Sew or crochet along your first reinforcement column, removing the pins as you go. I used a brown all-purpose thread that I already had on my machine. (It’s okay if the thread does not match because this column will be folded under and hidden beneath a ribbed band. Rather, a contrast thread is optimal so that you can clearly see what you are doing.) I decided to use a zigzag stitch because I reasoned that the thread should be able to stretch with the ribbing of the band, but I’m sure a straight stitch would have been fine. If sewing by hand, I probably would have used a short back stitch. Before using a sewing machine on your knitting, you should test out your planned stitch on a scrap piece of fabric. It’s important to take it slow and to not pull on your knitting as you guide it through the machine because you don’t want the knit fabric to be stretched when sewing.
Notice that I am feeding from the bottom of the garment up to the top. Feeding from the top down would force you to squeeze through the neck hole as you sew.
Below is a closeup of the wrong side of the work, where you can see how the zigzag stitch catches and secures the floats.
Count over to the left and mark the wearer’s right reinforcement column just as you did for the left one.
Sew along the right reinforcement column just as you did for the left one.
You are now ready to cut along the steeking column. Snip snip! Take your time, and be sure to use sharp scissors.
Below you can see the wrong side of the work with the raw, cut edge showing.
Fold a raw edge along the reinforcement column to the inside and pin in place.
Make your thread for hand sewing the edges by twisting apart and dividing a strand of yarn that is twice the length of your garment. You should have two strands: one for sewing down the left cut edge and one for sewing down the right.
Attach the raw edge to the wrong side of the work. I used a whip stitch because it is easy, quick and wraps the raw edges nicely. I placed a stitch every 3 rows or so, but you may want to do more if you do not plan to line the seams with ribbon.
Repeat Steps 8 and 10 for the other raw edge.
Create the button band. Traditionally, women’s buttons are located on their left side, and since that is how I am accustomed to buttoning my garments, I chose to do the same.
If you are a man you might prefer to work your button band on the other side, in which case you will simply skip to the Step 12 instructions, pick up your stitches, and then come back to work the Button Band Pattern Instructions (only on your right side). Then pick up stitches as instructed below (in this Step) and skip to the Buttonhole Pattern Instructions in Step 12.
Using your ribbing needles, start by picking up and knitting a multiple of 4 stitches, beginning at the RS/front side of the wearer’s top left edge. I picked up approximately 3 stitches for every 4 rows on my size 3 Hyphenated, which resulted in 152 stitches total, but you will need to adjust your stitch count depending on the length of the garment. Just be sure to pick up a multiple of 4 stitches.
When picking up and knitting stitches, you want to keep the knit column that is just to the other side of your needle as straight and neat as possible because it is the side that will show. This will result in a clean edge along your ribbed bands.
Button Band Pattern Instructions:
(WS): P3, (k2, p2) to 5 sts before end, k2, p3.
(RS): K3, (p2, k2) to 5 sts before end, k2, p3.
Repeat these two rows 3 more times. Work the WS row one more time. Bind off loosely on the RS in the k2, p2 pattern. I used size 4 needles for the bind-off.
Create the buttonhole band. These instructions are specific for creating 8 buttonholes on 152 stitches, so you will probably need to adjust the Buttonhole Row for your stitch count and/or for greater or fewer buttons. If adjusting, simply lay your buttons along your button band to visualize where you would like each of your buttons to go. Using the Buttonhole Row below as a sort of template, you will work a yarn over (yo) followed by p2tog at each buttonhole. Depending on where the hole is located within the ribbing pattern, you may wish to work (yo, k2tog) instead of (yo, p2tog). If you need help figuring out how to work this row, comment below and I will help you.
Using your ribbing needles, start by picking up and knitting the same number of stitches as you did for the other side–again, a multiple of 4 and approximately 3 stitches for every 4 rows, beginning at the RS/front side of the wearer’s right bottom edge.
Buttonhole Pattern Instructions:
(WS): P3, (k2, p2) to 5 sts before end, k2, p3.
(RS): K3, (p2, k2) to 5 sts before end, p2, k3.
Repeat these two rows one more time.
Buttonhole Row: P3, k2, [p1, yo, p2tog, k1, (p2, k2) 4 times] until 7 sts before end, p1, yo, p2tog, k1, k3.
Repeat RS and WS rows two more times. Bind off as done for the other side.
Block your garment. You could add your buttons prior to blocking, but I thought it best to set the ribbed bands before attaching the buttons. I block my garments by soaking in wool wash, squeezing out the water and laying on a mat (under a fan) to dry.
After blocking, arrange your cardigan so that the buttonhole band neatly overlaps the button band. Using a pin or removable marker, pin through each hole to mark the placement of each button. Create thread from your yarn once again and use this thread to sew each button onto the button band.
I used 9/16″ / 14 mm buttons that I picked up from my local Joann’s. Buttons that are slightly larger or smaller would work just as well.
STEP 15 (OPTIONAL)
I prefer to line the insides of the bands with a ribbon (I like velvet ones) so that they cover the sewn-down edges of cut fabric. I purchased this 3/4″ velvet ribbon from the ShyMyrtle shop on Etsy.
Laying the ribbon along one of the ribbed bands, cut a length that is about 2 inches longer than the garment. Arrange the strip over the sewn inner edge, folding each short end under by about an inch, and whipstitch around the ribbon edges using more thread from your yarn.
You now have a finished cardigan! If you use these instructions to steek a garment, please let me know how it goes in the comments below.