Steeked Sweater 101


You can do it with any kind of yarn, but acrylic might be more apt to unravel than animal fibers.


Great…now all I have to do is practice and see what happens…If I follow what you posted at the begaining of this post…with adding extra stitches, do I add what you posted? if not, how do you know how many to add?


You can really add as many as you want. If you’re nervous about sewing and cutting, you can add more. If you’re doing a Norwegian steek, you don’t add any. I add for Norwegian steeks.:teehee:

I did 10 with very thin yarn. As long as you have room to run rows of stitches down, or crochet the steek if you choose to go that way, it really doesn’t matter. You do, however, knit them every round, so you don’t want to add too many.


I usually always do an 8 stitch steek. If it’s a slippery yarn, like a wool/cotton blend, I crochet it. If it’s a grabby all wool, I use an unreinforced steek. I heard that some knitters actually use 2 stitch steeks to cut down on time and waste.


Amazing! Boy are you brave. Keep the pictures coming. Your sweater is beautiful. Happy Knitting…


i really don’t know what to say…
you are knitting-genious, ingrid…thanks


But I’m too scared!!!


Ingrid and ContiKnitter,

I want to try a steek. Eek! :cheering: It’s a little scary but sounds like such a good thing to know. I have owned EZ’s [U]Knitting Without Tears[/U] for years, she talks a little about steeking in there, but it mostly sounded to me like she didn’t really [B]knit[/B] a steek, she just used about 3 stitches and machine sewed and cut to put in sleeves.

Ingrid your information right here about steeking is the best I have found so far, but I still have a couple of questions.

Do either of you have a blog or anything that goes into even more detail about this technique? Ingrid, you said one place that you pick up stitches along the first row of the regular knitting at the edge of the steek, for instance at the sleeve. You don’t do anything with the steek part after that? EZ didn’t really knit a steek, she just “cut a steek”, I guess you’d call it. Then she said she whip stitched over the edges. I don’t really know what all this looks like at this point so I’m unclear here. There is nothing that can come undone after you pick up stitches and do sleeve or neck? Can you cut the steek off near the picked up stitches? :shock: Ingrid, you said you didn’t sew yours down? Does it really need to be 10 stitches wide or can they be more like EZs? :shock:

Ingrid, on the neck of your sweater all the “shaping” you did was to leave some stitches on a holder at the beginning of the where you wanted the neck? The rest of it just sort of happens magically. :?? In one of ArtLady’s posts she said she saw a lady on a cruise ship doing a vest that she was going to steek, and mentioned that she “shaped the neck”. Is there a way to shape a neck AND do a steek? I’m thinking of making cardigans, how does the neck shaping work on a cardigan that is steeked up the middle?

I better stop for now and see what your answers are up to now. I’m very grateful for the chance to ask questions of someone who has actually done these. Thank you both for your willingness to share and help people learn new things. :hug: MerigoldinWA


OK, let’s see.

EZ may not have knit a steek. I don’t have the fearlessness of EZ, so I knit steeks. I am making a sweater now where I’ll have to sew and cut without a steek since I didn’t know where to start it–the sleeves are knit separately and then you cut for them to fit. I’ll take pictures of that potential fiasco. :teehee:

I like having the security of the knitted steek since I don’t have a whole lot of confidence with the sewing machine–the steek stitches give me a little leeway.

I don’t sew down my steek edges. They just kind of lay there with the machine stitching still in place. I don’t see how they could unravel after picking up the sleeves, and I have had no problem with them. I’ll take a picture and show you what it looks like. It might be neater to sew down the edges, but I’m not all that particular how my sweaters look on the inside. I don’t really like to sew for appearance, so I don’t.

The way you shape a neck with steek stitches in place is to put the center stitches on a holder, then cast on the steek stitches above it. The shaping is done on the outside edges of the steek. So when you decrease, you do it outside the steek and edge stitches. The steek stays the same size, but the stitches of the sweater on the outside of the steek go down in number.

I’m in the process of making a cardigan, and I have cut the steek up the front (I just have to finish the bottom of the sleeves–it’s been waiting since last summer.) I just looked at it, and the neck shaping was done the same way. Keep the steek as is and decrease on the outside edges of it.

I hope that answers your questions so far, and I will get some pictures of the insides where the steek stitches are for the arms and neck.


I tried to get some pictures of the steek on the inside of the sweater as it lays and what’s left of the neck steek. There’s another little tab on the other side.


Thanks Ingrid. :cheering: I think I get the first part now. I can knit a steek or not. And I can sew the edges down or not. Probably EZs way of making the non-steek, steek has more need of being sewn down than yours does. :slight_smile:

The way you shape a neck with steek stitches in place is to put the center stitches on a holder, then cast on the steek stitches above it. The shaping is done on the outside edges of the steek. So when you decrease, you do it outside the steek and edge stitches. The steek stays the same size, but the stitches of the sweater on the outside of the steek go down in number.

The part quoted still isn’t clear to me yet. :?? You don’t decrease any in the steek itself, just keep it going, say in 10 stitches. Got that.

So when you decrease, you do it outside the steek and edge stitches.
On this part, I get outside the steek, but not 100% on the “outside the edge stitches”. Do you mean that before and after the steek stitches you leave one stitch (or more, how many?)on each side, just in from the steek, to be an edge stitch and decrease inside that? If so what happens to the edge stitch? Is that where you pick up the neck stitches? I’m trying to picture how decreasing at those points works. :??:?? Usually I’m out on the edges and I lose stitches on each side, kind of like taking little bites off the neck edge. :biting: When I try to picture that in a tube of circular knitting I get a bit flummoxed.

You do, say K2tog on one side and SSK on the other and the edge stitches, no little bites really appear but it is shaping the neck anyway? Is that it? You can’t end up with little spaces like I picture along the necks of a regular cardigan. There are no spaces, right?

Sometimes on necks they have you bind off 2 or three at the beginning of several rows. Do you just avoid that sort of shaping and depend on K2tog, SSK type shapings instead? Or is is possible to do the bind offs somehow? Seems like that would lead to holes and wouldn’t work. :shrug:

I appreciated the pictures of the inside of your sweaters. :muah: Thanks for showing them, they are helpful.

Do you do the same size of a steek for the sleeves as you do for the opening in the front for a cardigan? Thank you, thank you. Merigold


When you do a knitted steek, you keep a stitch at each edge in the background color of the pattern, and alternate colors between. So if you have Red and Blue in, with Blue being the background color, your knitted steek would look like this:


The background color may change, and the contrasting colors certainly change. You use whatever the background color is for that particular row and alternate it with the cc color of that row.

The edge stitch is used to pick up the sleeve, or the neck edge.

For the neck decreases, you’d do the k2tog or ssk right before or after the B edge stitch. I’ve never seen a bind off on a steek edge. Even if you see a blip where you do the decreases on the side of the edge stitch, it’s the edge where you pick up stitches for the collar, so they really don’t show any more than in a regular sweater.

Some patterns have you work the neck back and forth so you can do bind off and make the neck wider. In fact, the sweater I’m working on now has you stop working in the round at the neck but work back and forth from the front edge neck to the back neck edge on each side–right front to right back; left front to left back. I didn’t appreciate doing stranded on the back though.:ick:

The cardigan I steeked had 8 or 10 steek stitches across the front, I don’t really remember. Now I have to pick up a billion stitches up the front, around the neck and down the other side. Someday when I’m tied down, I guess.:teehee:


Thanks so much Ingrid. I think I get it now. :figureditout:

I understand what you mean by not wanting to work back and forth up past where the neck begins. That is why I want to try the steek idea. I knew I could work in the round to the armholes and then divide and do the fronts and back separately but in a Fair Isle that would be a bummer. I don’t like having to do the Fair Isle with the purl side staring at me. :ick: I was also thinking that my FI could look different where I did it in the round and where I did it back and forth. That would not be a happy situation. Can you get yours to look just the same either way you work it?

I really appreciate your help. Maybe these added posts will help some other poor soul too. We appreciate you. :hug: Now all I need to do is try to do it and see if I find more questions along the way. Thanks again. :thumbsup:


I’ve never noticed this thread before and I admit only read first and last pages. It IS amazing to see knitting cut however, I still don’t understand what a steek is as such. Is it a piece of knitting you add in for the purpose of cutting? Part of the reason I may not understand is that I’ve never made a jumper before…but…ok…I actually don’t understand the point of it to be frank. Is it when you’ve changed your mind about a pattern and wish to change the neck shaping?



Ok…it paid to read page two as I found this from Ingrid:

“A steek is an extra set of stitches that you include in your pattern so you can continue working in the round all the way up your sweater. This way you don’t have to divide into front and back for sleeves or work the two sides of a neck separately.”

I understand the definition now at least… :slight_smile:


I’ve been reading this forum and I really really want to do some Fair Isle sweaters, but there’s one part I’m just simply not understanding: how does it not unravel? Like, if you pick up the stitches and knit your sleeves, how are you sure that where you picked them up from isn’t going to unravel? I just am having a hard time understanding, even with the pictures.

Also, what’s this about a crocheted steek? That seems doable, especially since my sewing machine cannot be trusted. :doh:

ETA: The see eunny knit blog has an excellent tutorial on crocheted steeks here :slight_smile: But that blog says that crocheted and hand-sewn steeks still rely mostly on the yarn to hold itself together - how? It seems like the crochet would keep it from unraveling?? Okay, so obviously unraveling is my biggest fear… :frowning:

So if you wanted to do steeked armholes, how would you add the steek? Do you do increases where you want it to start, or does the pattern include it? How do you know how many rows to do the steek stitches?


The yarn used in traditional FI sweaters is regular old wool, so the ends will try to stick together even without sewing or crocheting them. At least that’s what they say, and what they did back in the day, and probably now come to think of it.

Even if you use a different yarn, the sewing or crocheting does keep it together. Really. None of my steeked sweaters have come close to unravelling, even when made with superwash wool.

I think the act of picking up and knitting the sleeves keeps it from coming undone, too, since the edge stitches are knit .

All I can say is, it’s worked for hundreds of years.:shrug:

If you are doing a pattern that includes the steek, it will tell you when to do it. It’s basically when you get the body to the length you want it from the underarm, you bind off a few stitches at the underarm, and on the next round you cast on your steek stitches and knit until the armhole is the length you want.


Well, I started. :cheering: Before I started the little sweater I want to do, I did a gauge in the round on dpns. But after making a inch and a half of my sweater I see it is smaller than I need it to be so I’m going to start over on bigger needles. This gives me a chance to ask a couple of questions I have already come to.

The Fair Isle (or whatever I’m doing) is only two colors and they change back and forth a lot. There are about even numbers of each over all. On some rows one predominates (it is an 11 stitch repeat). Many times one color shows up 5 times and the other 6. On those rounds I was considering the one with 6 as the “background” color for the purpose you outlined above about the edge stitch of the steek. Since the color use is so nearly the same all the time, do I really need to worry about which is the background color? Would it be better (or worse) to just make the first and last stitch match the first color used in the round? I notice on one row that there are 7 or 8 of one color so that seems like a definite background color. Am I right that on a row like that I would use the color used 7 or 8 times as the background color for the edge stitch of the steek?

Also I made the steek 10 stitches because you had mentioned that number and this is a sport weight yarn and I need enough steek to work with. I’m wondering why you use an even number instead of an odd number? Do you cut down [U]between [/U] two rows of stitches then in the center of the steek? Why wouldn’t it be better to have an uneven number so you could cut right on a row? Is there some advantage to having an even number?

Well, I wanted to get this question on here so it might give you an opportunity to respond before I get to where I need it again. :slight_smile: I have a trip I need to make, so I need to go. A trip to the frog pond. :frog: Won’t be the first time. :lol:

Thanks Ingrid.



I think the even number of steek stitches is so that you can seam down the outside of two columns and then cut between them.


The edge stitch isn’t all that critical. If you have a single background color and lots of other colors, it’s obvious. If you have changing background colors, it becomes obvious, too. Otherwise it won’t make all the much difference in the end. If you wanted, you could just pick a color to be the edge and have it the same all the way, or pick a dominant one. It’s really up to you.


I want to make the Blue Skies cardigan from IK sometime soon. It’s a cardigan, so the steek will be the entire length of the piece (there might also be steeks for the sleeves, right?). Here are my two questions regarding the center steek:

  1. Does one have to widen the steek to accomodate shaping, or does the shaping all show up, presto-chango once it’s cut (like the collar on your sweater, Ingrid, which is beautiful, btw)?

  2. The sts from the steek are picked up and a shawl collar is knit from them, so I’m not worried about unraveling (phew!). How does one hide the steek and make it look pretty? This steek won’t be as hidden as the inside of sleeves. :wink:

Thanks! This is a wonderful tutorial. Thanks for your answers and patience. I think I’m going to like steeking, once I muster the courage to do it for the first time!