The second part of my knitting on a small scale challenge has coincided with quite a few train journeys so I had time to give something a go that I’ve always wanted to try.
The Steek.
It’s always vaguely terrified me that you would actually take a pair of scissors to knitting (or woven cloth to be fair) but having done a fair bit of reading about it in Alice Starmore’s ‘Book of Fairisle Knitting’ and the excellent blog posts by Kate Davis at Kate Davis Designs, it was a real eye opener to realise that I think I’d been building it up in my head to be far more complicated than I thought, and of course, before you do any cutting, you do plenty of work to secure the knitting¬†
By adding at least 5 stitches of stocking stitch where the cut line will be, you can carry the colourwork yarns in the round. It helps to knit these stitches in alternate pattern and background colours to avoid a long float. The clever crochet is then made between 1/2 of stitch 2 and 3 and 1/2 of stitch 3 and stitch 4.

In the test piece above, I knitted using grey as the main shade and pink as the pattern colour on 3.25mm needles, creating the 3 vertical stripes of pink to identify the steek. I then crocheted the work and carefully cut between the 2 rows of crochet. At this point, I realised the crochet needs to be on a smaller hook than the knitting needles, and using a smaller gauge wool to try and make it a nice tight finish.

I then gave it another go, this time using 5mm needles and this great OXO pattern from Sheila McGregor’s ‘Traditional Fair Isle Knitting’ . Using the 3mm crochet hook did give a closer finish, but I’m still not convinced I’m getting the crochet quite right – because if I pick up the stitches on the top – which looks right – but it doesn’t always catch the carried floats underneath, so the steek is as stable as it should be.