Friday, January 29, 2010
I know! I know! That's a pretty blinding colour combo above, but what I'm really showing you is my first steek. For you non-knitters out there, steeking is the technique of cutting through a knit fabric, picking up stitches just back of the newly-cut edge, turning under the cut edge to form a sort of hem or facing, and knitting a properly finished edge from the picked up stitches. What the technique allows is for Fair Isle knitting to be done in the round rather than flat, which makes managing the several concurrently-knit yarns easier. As the wool used for Fair Isle knits is "sticky" wool, this isn't as risky as it might sound, since the fibre grabs, and stitches don't unravel quickly. Still, I felt more secure knowing that zig-zagged machine stitching was holding everything in place as I snipped right up the middle, turning pullover shape into cardigan.
I've actually got one other steek under my belt -- the one required for the armholes -- and I've finished one of the sleeves already. I opened up the centre, in fact, so that I could try that sleeve on for length. This weekend, I'll do the steek for the second armhole and get that sleeve finished. If you think this portion is colourful (duh!), you might be rocked a bit to know that the sleeves work a different colour combination against the body -- each! -- that is, the sleeves will be different from each other AND different from the body. I'm playing with the yarn a bit to get the sleeves fairly related, but still . . . All the versions I've seen of the sweater, though (it's Ruth Sorenson's Kauni Rainbow) look harmonious -- loud harmony, but harmony nonetheless. I'm not sure whether or not I'll even wear the sweater -- it's quite a commitment -- or whether the daughter I had in mind for it will either. But I couldn't resist knitting it.
It's been a delight to watch the colourways interact and I love interacting, myself, with the long history of knitted colourwork through this pattern. So many knitters through the centuries have used this construction, have confidently cut through their stitches, have tested sleeves-in-progress against a loved one's arms to measure length. I've caught myself thinking that I would have preferred these rich colour stories in a cushion cover rather than having to bear them on my body all day, but a cushion wouldn't have taught me how to steek, wouldn't have challenged me to persevere through two exiles on "sleeve island" -- I hope to finish the sweater by the end of February so it will get a bit of wear this winter before getting tucked into the winter chest. Meanwhile, perhaps you can see why I leave it lying around, brightening my day . . .