Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hoorah! Steekfest At Last!

Finally, after a very long wait, Steekfest occurred on a warm and humid day in the valley. Both Beth and Carla and her daughter Cassidy, drove down from Syracuse in Carla's new Toyota Sienna (I LIKE this mini-van). I finally met Beth whose blog I have been reading for a few years now and she brought her drum carder and kindly carded up a few ounces of Albert Finny's Finn fleece for me. Of course I want a drum carder now too but they don't give those away unfortunately. The fluffy resulting wool was GORGEOUS.

I just wanted to smother myself in those batts, they were so soft and inviting. It's so much quicker than hand carding and I like the resulting batts better, all of which I spun up today. While I was spinning, I made a small mistake and said "rats!" out loud. All of a sudden there was Mike standing above me (we have a loft) holding Priscilla, one of his rats. "Did someone call for rats?" he asked. I thought that was rather amusing.

But now to the reason for the get together. I have always wanted to learn how to steek. In knitting, steeking is a shortcut used to knit things like sweaters in the round without interruption for openings or sleeves until the end. After completing a tube, a straight line is cut along the center of a column of stitches, in order to make room for an opening or place to attach another piece. The steek itself is a bridge of extra stitches, in which the cut is made. This technique was developed by the knitters of the Shetland archipelago and is particularly associated with Fair Isle sweaters, although it can be used for solid colors as well. After the steek is cut, the edges are tacked down on the wrong side of the fabric in order to create a neat finishing. The stitches can also be picked up and knit from, for example, to create a sleeve.

I have a book of gorgeous vests that I wanted to knit for years but all the patterns call for steeking. So we all knit a teddy bear sweater which was the perfect small project to wet our feet in steeking. If we screwed it up no biggy.

Two teddybear sweater bodies and one sleeve

Me sewing my edges around the area to be cut

Beth taking the plunge and cutting!

Here is an excellent steeking post and video.

While we were snacking (gotta snack when steeking!), Beth told me about a very good book called The Autobiography of Henry VIII, written by Margaret George. Since we have been watching The Tudors on Showtime (an excellent highly recommended series), and I have been very fascinated by that period and that scoundrel Henry, I ordered the book from my library. I am looking forward to reading it.