Steeked Sweater 101


Absolutely beautiful.


Hi Ingrid! :waving:

Quick question for ya! Based on the principle of the STEEK…that knitting doesn’t ravel sideways…could I slice (cut) some “armholes” in a poncho that I recently added a lot of length to?

History: I knit a poncho according to pattern…it fit perfectly…but…I decided I want to use it up in the high mountains for a lonnnnng poncho (warmth for my keister and thighs!) It is not “fashionable looking” now…but it will get the job done!

However, the added length makes no allowance for my arms!

Can I “slice” two armholes…and then just crab-stitch over the naked edges? I think the “sliced edges” will roll inward…the poncho is stocking stitch. The patten is the classic "cast on so-and-so stitches…place two stitch markers midway to mark the center front and center back…decrease 1 st each side of the two stitch markers until…etc. etc.

The yarn is NORO “Iro”…expensive yarn. I don’t want to start poncho “surgery” without an expert’s “second opinion”!

What do you say?


ArtLady- I’m not Ingrid, but I do know that knitting does unravel sideways, but not as readily as vertically. I always do a crochet stitch before I cut, but, you can do the crab stitch around the cut edge, just be sure to pull it very tightly, so the stitches won’t slip past it and unravel.

If it’s a very slippery yarn, or not all wool (or other animal fiber), than you’d probably be better off machine stitching or crocheting the steek (with wool). I don’t like to steek if it’s not a 100% animal fiber, but, that’s just me. But, be sure to do your securing very tightly, for crocheting steeks, I use embroidery floss and a steel 7 crochet hook.

I hope that helps!


What he said.:lol:

Seriously, I use my sewing machine for steeks–I’m too lazy to do crocheted steeks. I believe has directions for crocheted steeks.

The bottom line is to [I]secure before you cut[/I]. Iro will stick to itself pretty well, but without those extra steek stitches you’d lose some of the knitting.


Thanks ContiKnitter and Ingrid! I would have sliced then secured…so…I appreciate the words-to-the-wise! Secure first…then slice!

When I get done, I will post a photo! Thanks again! :muah:


If you want to be extra secure, you can secure, cut, and then crochet/crab stitch. Then you can be absolutely certain that it won’t unravel.


I am totally [I]overwhelmed[/I] by your courage and talent! I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a steek. But then I’m a newby and am learning as I go. Your sweater is beautiful. I’d like to do someting like that, but I have a long way to go before I even consider it. I also copied your directions for later use. Maybe one day. . .

  • Sahara


Thanks! I didn’t know what a steek was until I found sweaters that I really, really wanted to knit. So what the heck. It’s been done for generations, why not me, too?:lol:


I met a Boston (a doctor) knitter on an Alaskan Knitters Cruise back on 2004.
She was knitting a button-up vest using NORO Silk Garden. She wanted the “striping” to match all the way around…and those of you who use Silk Garden know that is a challenge. The fronts stripe wider than the back because of half the stitches are present for the Fronts than the Back. The Back has narrower, more prominent stripes.

Here is what she was doing on the cruise…she knit the vest “in the round”…using Steeks up the middle of the would-be two fronts and steeks for the armhole areas. She did all the usual neckline shaping.

When she was done, she cut the sweater up the middle of the front steek…and the armhole steeks…and VOILA…the sweater vest appeared!

It didn’t look like much “in the works”…but after the cutting…it popped into shape for the V-neckline decreases!

I think it would have been easier to simply manipulate the colors to make the striping match…however, she was a steek queen…and she preferred doing it that way!

That is a surgeon for ya! :thumbsup: Not afraid to make that first cut! :pout:


Steeks are very useful, if you don’t like seaming. You can just knit the entire sweater in the round, cut the steeks, do a 3-needle bind off for the shoulders, pick up stitches for the sleeves and neck, and not one seam. And, you don’t have to do it with just Fair Isle, I do it with any allover pattern, color or not.

What’s cool to me is the neck steek, it looks all pinched in until you cut it, and then voila, you have a nice neckline. I use steeks all the time for jackets/cardigans, because you have no seams, instead of 5 different pieces to sew together, you just cut some openings.

What’s weird to me is that some people don’t even secure before they cut, they trust the old Shetland Wool to hold itsself together, which it does, but I still wouldn’t think of doing that.


Hi Conti! :waving:

I took a 6 hours workshop about 4 years ago…it was a color workshop…the instructor is a ROWAN rep…and a MASTER Fair Isle knitter. Anyhoo, part of the workshop had us working with steeks…and she simply had us cut the steek…the two cut edges rolled to the inside (like stocking stitch does on its own)…trim off excess…and whip stitch it down on the wrong side.

I think it sounds safer to secure first…then cut…but that is not what she taught us. She said ‘knitting does not unravel sideways’.
Well, it didn’t unravel within the time it took us to trim the bulk of the steek away…and whip stitch it, secure it, to the underside.

I never did do anything with Steeks though. I don’t Fair Isle knit. And I don’t mind seaming.

I wish I was not so frustrated with Fair Isle knitting. It is the tension thing. Stranding the two colors in the back of the work is tedious & frustrating for me. If I make it look nice, it ends up being too tight and puckers the work. If I knit it looser, it looks messy, and may stay messy…but how will I know til the work is off the needles and onto the blocking board? A lotta work for nothin’ if my tension is once again WONKY LOOSY GOOSY. :pout: I have knit a few things that need some colors implanted by stranding…but I avoid it like the plague because of the tension issue. Color knitting is so beautiful, but alas, I content myself with texture & cable knitting…and colorful yarns like NORO.

I don’t have a problem with Intarsia though. That I can do. :thumbsup:


I just knit a test swatch, and cut it without securing, and it did unravel sideways, just not as readily as vertically.

I know what you mean about the Fair Isle, it is difficult to get your tension right across a large number of stitches. And, steeks aren’t just for Fair Isle, they’re for anything, great for us knitters who prefer to knit sweaters in the round.


Thanks for the info, Conti! Yes, steeks are a very useful technique for many knitted items. I will follow [I][U]your[/U] [/I]advice before I cut the pocket slots in my NORO Poncho!

Overall, the color knitting class was hugely helpful. It demystified a lot of the scary unknowns associated with color knitting in general. She tried to cover A-Z in just 6 hours.

The class was too large…and the knitters were too diverse in their skill levels. The “kindergartner” knitters sucked up all her time and attention. The shop that sponsored the class should have limited the size of the class and screened the knitters. It was an expensive class, but I would rather have paid more, and gotten more out of the class. The instructor was run ragged, let me tell you. I think this class had 20 knitters, 14 of which were basically beginner knitters. Sigh.


You’re right, that class should have been limited to intermediate/advanced knitters, who would have gotten more out of it. Then, the shop could have sponsored a beginning color class, that would have been better.


Landing this Instructor, Sandy Blue, was a BIG DEAL. This woman, you should have seen her Fair Isle work. It was incredible! She had a wealth of knowledge to impart…but alas, she got stuck showing people how to, for example, cast on and work with their slippery, metal needles on the Fair Isle sample. Sigh.

Although she is a [B]master[/B] at knitting…I think she was a novice at teaching and controlling a class.

Anymore, I ask the LYS if they are limiting the class size. I know they will cancel a class if they don’t get enough students signed up.
But, I want to know…will they limit the numbers? Usually, the answer is no. They don’t usually get 20 women signed up.


Here’s a video of a steek being cut on a fair isle blanket knit in the round. I swear, the sound of the scissors cutting through the fabric is like fingernails on a chalk board!


Hi there JGM! :waving: Thank you for the video link! When I cut my first “sample” fair isle piece…I had the same feeling! Eeeeks!! And it was a far cry from that beautiful piece of knitted ART that the Rainey Sister cut on the vidio clip!

Wasn’t her knitting just absolutely gorgeous!!??

Thanks again!


I might be in the minority here, but the day I cut my first steek, I couldn’t wait to get cutting. I had crocheted around the 3 center stitches and I was ready to get going! I still put an inch worth of stitches on hold for the steek, cast on that same number, and then crochet around the center 3 stitches, then cut. No worries. It won’t unravel, it’s very secure. Steeking is my all time favorite knitting technique.


I have a question…can you steek with any kind of yarn?

I didn’t know what it was until I read all of this, and I remember the first sweather I made, for my husband about 17 yrs. ago and I was just a begainner and don’t like the way it look with the seams…I would love to try it and I can’t afford the pricey yarns…


Sure! I steek almost every sweater I make. Almost. I’ll find any way to make a sweater without seams.