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Make it stop

I broke.

Yes, it's true - I ended up screeching into the Babies R Us parking lot, printing out the registry information, and picking out a gift, all thirty minutes before the shower. What have I become? I wrestled a heavily pregnant woman for a bluebird mobile. I cursed in front of a toddler. For God's sake, I USED THE STORE WRAPPING PAPER! Clearly, my soul is a blackened, shriveled twist of tissue.

I'll give her the sweater when the baby is born - the thrill of twenty women with spatula-slathered makeup and claws filed to points oohing and ahhing and secretly thinking that I'm cheap for not just buying the same thing from Baby Abercrombie and Fitch is just something I guess I'll have to go without. Thanks for the commiseration, though :)

I think that I perhaps didn't explain very clearly what the problem was. Tallguy says:

OMG!! What went wrong? There is no need to rip anything -- there is always a way to fix it.

Why didn't you like the steeks? Too much bulk you say? Then you did something not quite correct in that case. There should be no bulk at all! And heavens, no! You don't have to weave in all those ends! This needs more work; I'll have to get back to you on this.

Hmm. I don't think I did anything "wrong", exactly. There are several traditional variants on the steek, all of which form a bridge of waste stitches where holes should be so the knitting can later be cut. I suppose the major division lies between steeks where the waste stitches are kept as a strip of knitted fabric, and steeks where the waste stitches are dropped or unraveled. The nitty-gritty of cutting between or through stitches, how many stitches wide, stabilizing techniques, and "finishing" techniques don't really matter - I think those variables are usually determined more by preference and comfort and habit than anything else.

This first time around, I used the first technique - the steek people are most familiar with, with an alternate-stitch seeded pattern and a background color edge stitch on either side. Everything was fine until I went to pick up the sleeve stitches - to up the utility of the garment, I'd constructed the shoulders with about an inch of front/back overlap. The overlapping portions of the front and back tapered to a point, meaning that, when folded into position, the neck facings and shoulder facings of each side also overlapped. When the front and back of the shoulder were put together and joined, six layers of fabric came together.

To tell the truth, I didn't like the feeling of the facings, even at a single thickness around the armhole, for a baby garment - they just provide too much bulk for such a wee little sweater. For me, it's a proportion thing...in an adult's garment, a facing is unobtrusive, even pleasingly stable. In a baby garment, the facing seems too stiff for the delicacy of the piece.

So, the Baby Fair Isle v.1.2 employed the principle behind the wound steek. I think the usual wound steek - where the yarn is wrapped around the needle x times, dropped and wrapped anew the next row, creating a ladder as you work - is messy and sort of unwieldly. To keep things compact, I just knitted bridges of ten stitches with both colors carried together and dropped steek stitches rather than binding off.

I put the single shoulder stitches on safety pins, and cut my steeks.

Then, I just dropped each steek row to get a bush of 2" tails - two for every row.

I know it seems counterintuitive - for many people, a big attraction of the steek is the way it eliminates fussing with ends - but you're suppposed to weave in each and every tail with a wound steek. I braid mine instead - it's the same concept as a french braid, but incorporate new strands only on one side of the work and drop old strands as you go, keeping each part of the braid to four strands of yarn. Trim the ends close, and you have a narrow, flexible, delicate cord running down the selvedge - it even naturally turns back onto the wrong side of the work, just as a facing would, to cover picked-up stitches.

So, that was the problem and the solution. That, and the baby shower was at 1pm and I was writing at 3am. Oh, that we didn't need to sleep :)


Keridiana linked to another version of the Print O' The Wave stitch, and asked me what the difference is. I haven't knit a swatch, but reading the chart, it appears that the major difference is simply that each finger is a stitch wider and a pattern row taller. It's a very old pattern, with lots o' variants floating around (har har har!) - I charted mine using a couple different images I'd seen, and then downscaled it to work with the planned delicacy of the piece.

Constests and such - I'm always the last to know about anything :) Thanks for participating, and for the lovely things you've said. These things seem to be a lot of fun, and it IS kind of cool to have won - in absentia, no less. I think the best part is seeing my name up there with the other winners and nominees - really amazing bloggers, one and all. Thanks!


The sweater still looks great (but the braiding thing went over my head). On a somewhat related topic - when you knit fair isle do you carry your yarn in 2 hands or in one? Always float or is there a time to weave?

Those loose ends just give me the chills! :)

Ooo, that braid is cool. I know nothing about steeking and the such, so this is all very interesting.

Bummer that it didn't work out in time for shower. Just a teensy-tiny suggestion. Maybe you could take it easy on yourself for the next baby shower? Especially if you are just coming back from vacation? Knit a Miss Dashwood from Knitty or something. Miss Dashwood is a real crowd pleaser and way less stressful than 3am steeking. I'm just saying.

Well, I have to admit that I have no knowledge of steeking, it looks like the scariest thing I've ever seen. I think I had my first heart attack when I saw those HUGE scissors! *faint* But it looks interesting even tho I am terrified at the same time. eeeek

Congrats of the the award for best new blog! That's cool =)

AWESOME work on the Fair Isle! sheesh!

Eeeh, sorry to hear about your steeking dilemma. But both sweaters look awesome! I know you'll find a way.


I like that braiding technique! Can you please contact me in email? I've got a question for you.

Wow! Even though the sweater didn't work out as planned, I'm so impressed. Like the others, a little shaken up by the ends and the steeking. I can't wait to see how Version 3 turns out.

Eunny: New reader here. I've never seen, much less heard of a wound steek. Seeing the process was fascinating! Thanks for the info and pics. Also, congrats on your award!

I agree with April above. I gasped when I see the scissor poised to cut up a perfectly beautifully knitted piece. I guess I will have to try some Fair Isle to understand that.

Congratulations on winning the Best New Blog! You totally deserve it!

I am so not ready for steeking -- your photos of scissors in the knit fabric about made me faint! I'm sure future endeavors will work out -- it always takes me a test run before figuring things out so they'll be the way I like them.

Fabulously beautiful piece of knitting. As a steeker from way back but a newbie to your site, I'd mention, cap in hand, that over the years I somehow (probably Meg Swanson) discovered that if I purled one stitch on either side of my three stitch steek, when I cut, the edges folded sharply under without bulk -- rather like running your thumbnail down a folded paper you want to tear. Then you just trim the cut-fuzzes and X-stitch (what =is= that called?) down the facings. Non-bulky, honest. Still, all honor (and horror) to the braid-work. What a job. Phew.

You either have the patience of a saint, or you are insane. I can't decide. Braiding in all of those little ends! Holy crap!

Your projects just keep getting more and more impressive! Don't feel bad about caving and buying from the registry! That's my usual plan...buy from the registry, wrap at the store and give the hand made gift when you visit after the baby is born.

Wow, that sweater is breathtaking. Love the colors and the pattern. Way over my knitting head at the moment.

Oh, how I HATE baby showers! You poor thing.

You are so brave! But I'm laughing hilariously at this post!

your knitting conquests are always so awesome to behold. i appreciate the thought you give to each technicalility, and as always, i am utterly amazed. almost makes me feel like just knitting isn't enough if i'm not putting more thought into it. i suppose i'll cross the designing bridge when i get to it ;)

you absolutely blew my mind with this gorgeous knitting. i think it is the most wonderful i ever saw. and your braid method is perfect i think i will surely do it that way. the only thing keeping me from doing a sweater was the steek thingy now i think i can do this !! thank you for the pics i really enjoyed them.

how do you find the centre of a ball of yarn