When Jen from A-C Knitwear announced the A Year Of Techniques project, there was one subject that I really, really wanted to appear in the line up, and that was steeking. Steeks are perhaps one of the more jovially divisive techniques in the knitting skills arsenal, with many people either enjoying the magic process of knitting a piece entirely in the round with no fiddly short sections of colourwork, and just as many wide eyed at the idea of taking a air of scissors to a piece of knitwear. I have kind of been an enthusiastic supporter. That is, I have been completely confident in the science of the stitches, but have never found a project to benefit from steeking until very recently. I started knitting a tank top for my little boy which I would have knit in the round until the neck and armhole splits, and then knit back and forth, but then the opportunity of this year-long play of techniques was announced and I stopped my knitting only a few inches in and patiently waited to see if steeking would be covered, and then crossed my fingers in hope that it might just happen to be a toddler tank top … and it was.
I put my own project aside, in the hope that the Oorik (Shetland dialect for a small person!) tank top would make a nice little primer to then working steeks into my own toddler tank top, which features various trilobite forms. Worked in Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight yarn, the colourwork and steeks are very easy to work as the grippy fibres of the pure Shetland wool keep everything stable.
The Oorik pattern includes a full explanation of the steeking technique as well as various finishes to the steeks to secure and finish the fabric. I chose to reinforce my steeks using the crochet method detailed, as though I am confident in the stickiness of Shetland yarn, I am also very aware of the boisterousness of my two year old and thought that it would be good practice.
I knit the largest size of the tank top, making it about an inch and a half longer than the pattern by adding a few extra rows of colourwork before the neck and armhole steek stitches were added. Other than that minor change I knit the pattern as written, with no further modification. I still have to find the right time to get a modelled shot, before my son grows out of his first steeked tank top, much like he did the initial one that I cast on.
With its varying forms of trilobites facing in all directions, the tank top I put on hold back in March is now going to work up either too small or at least a bit snug, and rather than plough more hours into knitting something that might not fit on completion, I am going to start again. Though I adore the yarns and colours that I am working with, and the background colour is a nice grabby pure wool, I’m going to get some more Jamieson’s & Smiths and re-knit it in that, as the gauge difference will size up the pattern with not too much extra design tweaking from me (at least, that is the plan) and having a similarly grabby yarn for the foreground colour always helps with the evenness of more complex colourwork and in taming longer floats, which will make the process of knitting this piece a bit more straightforwards. I’m looking forwards to casting on my seconds steeked tank top in the new year.