Sunday, September 30, 2012

Steek Misteek Feexed

A long time ago, I wrote a post about The Second Most Scary Thing About Knitting. It was there that I stated that the MOST scary thing about knitting was steeking.

Well, guess what I did this week?

Steeking is where you cut through your knitting.Yes, cut. With scissors. You spend hours and hours knitting something, and then you cut it. Because you want to. You do this for various reasons:
  1. You want to save time by knitting a garment in one piece. This is often done in multi-coloured projects, because it's easier than knitting it in pieces and dealing with all sorts of yarn ends.
  2. You wish to make a garment fit better.
  3. You are mildly insane.
I was going for reason #2... and #3, now that I think about it.

I made my Twisted V Sweater a couple of years ago, and even though I loved it, it always bothered me how short it was and how floppy the bottom edge looked. This week, I put it on before going for a walk and realized that, since I'd lost weight, the sweater looked longer on me. I looked at myself at the mirror, thinking that I was finally happy with the thing, and then I realized that the whole sweater was looking floppy and baggy.

The options were to leave it as it was to languish in my closet, or to toss it. I didn't really like those options at all, so when I came back from my walk, I took it off, turned it inside out, pinned the sides in, tried it on and decided then and there that I'd steek it. I've spent a lot of time looking at manufactured sweaters, and most of them are steeked in some way... the pieces are cut from long sheets of knitted fabric and are sewn together by an industrial sewing machine to keep the edges from unraveling. Logic decreed that it would work.

Before I could think about it too long (and subsequently start freaking out about cutting my knitting), I had my sewing machine open and I was sewing stay stitches along the line of the pins. I tried it back on, decreed that it looked good, brought it back to my sewing machine, and ran a zigzag stitch right next to the line I'd just sewed, along the edge I was going to cut it.

Then, I whipped out the scissors and starting cutting the excess fabric off. My brain was screaming, "Wait! Waaaaaaiit!!!" But if I'd listened, the sweater would be sitting on my sewing machine yet, half-sewn, partially mangled by my scissors.

But I didn't listen. I cut it, and it was done.

The next day, I tried it on, feeling pretty good about myself, but you know... it still didn't fit that well. It needed to be taken in a bit more, and I wanted to tidy up the seams a bit. I brought it back to my machine to repeat the procedure... except this was the day that the machine decided to throw a few fits and I couldn't get a single straight seam into my sweater.

After a few tries and ripping several seams out, I sat there, feeling sad that I'd mangled this garment. I pinched rows of knitting between my fingers, seeing clearly where I wanted the seams to be, then I stood up, grabbed a hand sewing needle and started backstitching the seams in place. I fired up the sewing machine (which seemed to snap out of its tantrum) and ran another straight line of stitches right next to it. I cut the extra fabric off and sat back with a sigh.

And now I have a sweater that fits.

Oh, and traditionally, you steek woolen sweaters, because the wool eventually felts those cut ends together to make a more secure seam. This sweater is a cotton/acrylic blend, and thus required a lot of stabilizing, which is why I made all those double seams. It's a scarier thing to steek.

Hence the mild insanity I mentioned earlier.

I washed it, and the cut edges did fray a bit, but after a little trimming, they're all good.

I was going to run off and see what else I could re-fit with some steeks, but I think I might just take a break from it for now. All that was a biiiit too much. Back to more simple things, like knitting lace and baking cakes and making big batches of soup and stuff like that...

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