You know what’s scary? Spending two weeks knitting a giant tube…only to CUT IT OPEN!
My current “ambitious” cardigan project takes advantage of something known as “steeks.” Steeking is the addition of usually an odd number of stitches to your circular knitting that you eventually cut open. Imagine that: all of your hard work and then you cut that shit open like you’re performing a dissection. It sounded bananas scary.
As I had only read about steeking, I thought it best to try it on a smaller cardigan, so I found “The Little Dude” sweater by Andrea Rangel. I haven’t seen The Big Lebowski, but I did recognize the pattern from the movie stills.
I knit this cardigan for Elliott, Kya and Brian’s nearly two-year-old son, whom I’ve [sniff] actually never met. He seemed like the right age for a cardigan–sure, you can make handknit stuff for newborns, but they outgrow it, like, immediately. This sweater will fit for at least a month…I hope. I don’t know. I don’t understand kids.
My goal was to finish this sweater in two weeks. It ended up taking three when you factor in weaving in ends, blocking, etc. (all that finishing stuff), but the actual knitting flew by. It’s surprisingly fast to make a tiny garment!
Here’s a picture of the steeks–they are the columns of alternating gray and cream stitches. The purple yarn is the hand-sewn reinforcement to keep the ends from unraveling. There are a couple ways to reinforce a steek; I chose to do hand-sewing for this one because it seemed a little more secure than the crocheted version. I’m not too worried though because I made sure to use 100% wool, which should start to felt together over time. (You can also use a sewing machine if you, you know, have one and didn’t donate it because you realized that sewing makes you stabby.)
And here is a side-by-side of the un-cut and cut steeks. It was surprisingly easy to cut them open. I had done enough research and trusted in the knowledge of the Shetland knitters who came before me and invented this technique.
I actually lost at “yarn roulette” — meaning that I ran out of yarn before the end of the project. This is the first time that has ever happened to me. Luckily, I had some similar cream-colored yarn leftover from another project to use on the last few rows of the collar. I’m really not sure how I ran out of yarn because I had 80 extra yards to begin with, and I usually knit tight! *I* can tell that it’s two different shades of cream, but I’m 100% sure that Elliot will not give AF about this. He’s two. That’s what I kept telling myself while it was blocking…
(Also, I finally bit the bullet and purchased foam mats and T-pins for blocking. I’m a real knitter now!)
Pinning the sweater down reminds me of those cases with specimens pinned under glass:
To further secure the steeks, I used blanket stitch to tack down the flaps. I think it adds a rustic, homey touch as well as some piece of mind. This was, I think, the most satisfying part.
Finally, this “Little Dude” doesn’t look exactly like the original sweater in the movie. That one zips up, but this version uses buttons. I agonized over picking buttons (Again, Self, the recipient IS TWO.), but I’m pretty pleased with how the ones I picked look:
And here’s the finished project. Isn’t it cute? I’m so happy with it. Not only did it turn out well, I learned how to use steeks and got to keep working on my stranded colorwork technique. (The pattern suggests catching every other float stitch, which I’m not used to.)
Once I was done, I sent Andrea, the pattern designer, a link to my completed project page. She liked it so much that she posted one of my photos on her Instagram feed!
Kya texted me as soon as she got the sweater package. She said she’ll send photos of Elliot in it soon! Because they just had their second child, my hope is that Henry can wear it once Elliot outgrows it. That being said, it’s a white, hand-wash only sweater made of 100% wool for a toddler. That seems kind of…well, insane to me.
Here are more technical details on my Ravelry project page, if you are interested.