Machine Sewing Steeks - What Kind of Sewing Machine?

Hi there!
I hope someone with sewing experience can help me out.

I would like to be able to knit some fair isle sweaters with steeks in non-traditional yarns such as cotton blends. I will need to machine sew these steeks. Does anyone have any advice about what I need to look for in a sewing machine?
I know nothing about sewing machines. :whoosh:
I assume that the thickness of the yarn vs. fabrics will be an issue. I need to be able to sew up different thicknesses of yarn, but only straight steeks, no embroidery or anything. I am very confused by all the different machines out there. I haven’t yet found a sewing resource that covers this topic.
Could I get away with a handheld sewing machine?

Thank you! :heart:

I’ve seen the “machine sewing” of the steeks on a video on KDTV. But I’ve also seen the carefullly “hand stitching” the steek, too.

I took a COLORWORK class a few years ago. Sandy Blue, from Rowan, excels in Fair Isle. She taught us to hand stitch a protective line inside the steek. If you carefully take small stitches, it will protect your knitting.

Besides, as Sandy taught us…knitting doesn’t ravel sideways. The stitching step is taken just as a precaution, and to make you feel better about the CUTTING.

IMHO, you don’t need to run out and buy a sewing machine for the sake of protecting the steek issue.

Buthere is a tutorial that expands on all sorts of Fair Isle steeking…including crochet, machine, hand sewing.

I think for anyone who has ever sewn the hand held gizmo would be a nightmare. I’ve not sewn hand knitted fabric but I think my sewing machine, a cheap Singer that I’ve had since the early 90s would do just fine, I’ve sewn just about everything else on it.

I doubt there will be anything not covered in AL’s link but here’s another I came across earlier today when I was looking for something else. You’ll have to scroll down to the part about steeking.

Whether you need to or not also depends on the fiber you use. Feltable wool yarn is less risky, but acrylic is a must. I honestly don’t know how a hand held would work so I can’t address that. I have friends who used wool and secured it with crochet. IMO a swatch would be the best way to test different methods of securing steeks.

Here’s a thread where it’s been discussed.

I am not a sewing person, but I bought a basic sewing machine specifically for steeks. Nothing special. It helps to put some tissue (the wrapping paper kind) under the stitches to keep the yarn from getting caught, but if I managed, anyone can.

Hi Artlady1981!

Thank you for getting back to me so fast. That is an interesting idea about hand sewing. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. :eyes:
I guess I could do a swatch to see how it goes, because I am quite possibly the Worst Hand Sewer ever!
I would still like to get a machine because if I want to continue knitting it will be without wool most of the time. My lanolin allergy is becoming more serious.

I didn’t find too much about Sandy Blue online. Is this one of her patterns? Did you take this class in person? Would I need to join Rowan to get access to it?

I love that tutorial! I think I might email her and see if she has any suggestions for machine specs.

Ingrid, thank you!
I remember my grandmother did that all the time. I can (almost) visualize how the tissue would keep it from pulling.
Would this be an example of a basic machine?

Jan, that is the bestest link! Thank you. I now have it saved for future reference.

“I just wanted everyone to see that you don’t burst into flame if you cut knitting!” wrote Ingrid. :heart: it and for now I’ll take it on faith. :slight_smile:

That could be a useful sewing machine. Good for steeks, I don’t know. One thing: Some of those small machines have a push button and not a foot feed for making them go. I think the button ones might not be a good idea, you would want the foot feed. IMO

GG! Wow, that’s a helpful little paragraph she has there. I understand the stitch length bit I think and I will be looking up the walking foot thing. I love her idea about practicing on an old sweater. I have one that I could try turning into a cardigan.

Hey Jan in CA!

You are so right about the types of yarn and its something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently.
Regrettably, I have to further restrict the amount of knitting I do with wools designed for fair isle because I have a raging lanolin allergy. My reactions are becoming more severe.
It’s hard enough to knit with wool, but I’m also no longer able to wear sweaters like this, even with a t-shirt underneath.
I need to be able to knit with superwash wool blends like Stroll or cotton blends like Comfy for anything that will be remotely clingy.
However, I think something like Roscalie will be fine to wear since it’s designed to have something substantial worn underneath. I’ll risk losing the skin on my hands for Alice Starmore!

I don’t have an allergy and I can knit with wool, however my skin is too sensitive. Even cashmere can be itchy. :frowning:

That’s about par with the machine I have, and it worked just fine. Using small stitches and making a second seam right next to it gives a good, fool-proof way to secure the steek stitches.

I never did get that sweater steeked that I mentioned in the steek thread. My DH fixed my machine…and now it needs fixing. :teehee: And also it’s buried with yarn. :roflhard: One of these days…

Sandy Blue was a Rowan rep. The owner of our LYS met Sandy during that interaction. Upon learning how talented Sandy was as a (especially Fair Isle) colorwork knitter and teacher, our LYS owner signed her to teach a 6-hrs Colorwork class. I think it cost me $250.

I haven’t seen Sandy since. But I’ll always remember what I learned in her class!

Sandy never ever sews a “safety line” before she cuts. She leaves about three steek stitches next to the real knitting…then after the cut steek naturally rolls up, she tacks it down into place. (She uses mostly sport or dk wools, of course, so those three steek stitches aren’t too bulky when they roll to the inside.) She brough about a dozen Fair Isle pullovers. I inspected all of the steeked necklines and armholes…everything was perfect. No excess bulk, no naked edges showing, no frayed edges.

I don’t have a machine but I’ve hand sewn steeks on wool sweaters (even children’s sweaters) and they’ve stayed nice and secure. A running back stitch repeated like this seems to work well.

Salmonmac, that’s such a good link because she explains the why behind her instruction. I love Eunny. I was a little shocked that’s she is no longer the IK editor. I hope this means she’ll have more time to design knitwear.

I hope so too. She’s such fun to watch on the Knitting Daily TV shows. I learn something new every time i watch.