Saturday, February 27, 2010

Steeking "My Way":

Having recently done the most feared thing on my knitting list, STEEKING----- I can honestly say that it was not only not scary, but not hard at all, actually fun to create this lovely thing from a not finished thing. I'm not sure if that made a bit of sense--- if you are a knitter, well, it did!

The entire way through the Lloie Cardigan process I had planned to crochet the steek. As I came to the place where steeking was necessary I totally changed my mind and began to forge another plan. I'd heard it said that there was nothing to fear and what makes this a true statement to me is one very simple caveat: MAKE SURE THAT WHEN YOU CUT YOUR STEEK ABSOLUTELY NO STITCHES CAN UNRAVEL--- or even move in any way. Because the reality is that I don't crochet, I thought I needed insurance I could count on. Not trying a new method to stabilize the area to be cut, and a trial is never a sure thing. Because I do sew that seemed the best way to create the steeking and add a finishing detail. I love little dressmaker details and this led me to think of machine steeking with the addition of stretchy lace seam tape. And, we were off---

I had five steek stitches, and along this line of stitching I applied two rows of lace seam tape making sure that there was a couple of inches extra on the top and bottom for finishing later. (Note: I used the wine color not only so it would show well in photographs, but it does match the wine yarn and is a 'happy surprise' inside the cardigan). The lace tape above is the right hand side row. The lace tape has a right side (which is slightly bumpier than the flat wrong side), and this goes face down with the left side of the tape snugged up to the first row of stitches in the steek. I hand basted the tape down along the edge of both sides of the lace tape making sure that it was not stretched at all and would lay perfectly flat. NOTE: Imagine as you lay the seam tape that when it is stitched in place and the steek cut, the lace itself will flip around to the wrong side of the cardigan leaving a perfectly smooth edge, and when hand stitched to the back of the sweater it will be clean, flat and pretty as can be!

You can see my one area of real concern, the bit between the yoke on the top of the cardigan was unhappily bunchy. I took a bit more time when I basted down the tape in this area pushing and smooshing the bunched bits toward the center of the steek. It really makes me mad that I allowed the bunchy mess to happen in the first place, I was so careful with the color work tensioning!

Forgive the blurry photo, but this shows the lace tape being stitched down. I used my stitch plate with the tiniest hole instead of the regular hole in order to minimize the risk of yarn being sucked into the sewing machine. If you don't have another stitch plate, place a piece of scotch tape over the hole where the bobbin thread emerges, this will serve as a temporarily smaller hole for the machine threads to pass. Stitch very slowly and don't pull the sweater. It is actually a bit clumsy as you're laying a tubular shape on a flat surface to sew a straight line. I used a large flat foot on the machine for maximum control, I did consider using a large flat foot with an open front for better visibility of stitching the line but opted for the closed foot/maximum area covered. The stitch itself used was a very narrow zig zag although a fairly close straight stitch would work as well.

Both lines of seam tape have been stitched in the photo above. Everything is flat and stable.

Bunchy bits contained------ like a dam! After the line of stitching goes down each side of the tape, take a breath. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, it's all good, and downhill from this point on. I then stitched a nice tight row of zigzag next to the line of stitching/lace seam tape. My stitch covered both 'legs' of the next stitch in. Repeat on the other side of the steek.

At this point you should have only a stitch or two "open" in the center of the steek, not covered or contained by machine stitching. Some machine stitched steekers suggest more than one row of zig zag stitches. To my way of thinking, I mean how much security do you need? Those stitches aren't going ANYWHERE!!! Do make sure that you have thoroughly covered the ends of the stitching line with your thready backtracking. Security, security, security. You want to make sure that the row of stitching completely encloses your stitches, with a backtack, yet not so crazy as to suck the edge of the sweater down into the machine guts (which could be a nasty bit of a mess!)

Remember, once you know for a fact that your stitches are not going to unravel and launch you into the land of the bonzo knitter, you can cut that steek with ease.

It is that time. Scissors above, play the theme to whatever scary movie soundtrack you like......

You can see the steek ready to cut, there is still an inch of lace tape on either end of the cardigan (neckline and hemline).

Cut that baby right down the middle. Trust me, once you've made the first cut, it's cake! If you had more stitches for the steek, I'd trim them out if positive that the machine stitching lines had everything in complete control.

The inside of the cardigan with the lace tape now wrapped to the wrong side and pinned. That extra little bit of lace at the ends of the sweater are turned under and snugged right up against the cardigan. With needle and thread stitch the lace tape in place making sure that you only catch the back side of a knit stitch and your stitches do not go through to the right side of the sweater. Think a nice neat backstitch on the smallish side, you don't want this to pop out, or have to re-do the hand stitching.

Looks GREAT!!!!!!! Buttonholes are marked with yarn tailor tacks and I'm ready to think about the I Cord edging around the fronts and neckline.

In this gauge, with this method, I found that picking up to do an attached I Cord with buttonholes was not going to happen. It became easier for me to make I Cord with mad abandon and use yarn to attach it to the sweater. I then reinforced the sweater edge where the buttonholes will be with yarn overcasting and left that bit of I Cord open to accept the buttons.

Looks great------------ and is blocking away. It's almost dry and when I've sewn on buttons I'll be back with photos.

And steeking? I can't wait to use this method again--------- steeking has no more fear for me!!! Maybe next time instead of lace seam tape I'll cut some fabulous fabric on the bias and make my own bias seam tape for the edge. The options are endless.

Steek On!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Too Long Gone

What is the deal? I've not said a peep in too long!!!!!!! (Which for many might be counted as a good thing!)

I've been working at home, and knitting like a crazy person trying to get Lloie done. But check out what I finally (FINALLY) finished!!!! The guilt got to me I guess~ The Everyday Wrap!

Fuzzy and light as a feather, yet warm. Super simple but I think that is part of the charm. Just a little toss it in your bag wrap for the chillies. Love the ruffle on the seam, that is the best part! When I was in my Ravelry queue last week I noticed that the past few posts about this project said "why don't I finish this???" It languished blocked and just laying about for too long. So glad to have it done!

The Lloie yoke is coming along, about halfway through, the next two leaves are the pinky color, then two in cream followed by the creamy petals along the neck. I am going to run out of black, good thing the folks at Schoolhouse Press are so dang wonderful about sending more post haste!!! My fear is that I'm in such a toot to get it done it will fail somehow! The yoke will be done but I refuse to rush the steeking. I have a plan in mind and rushing it (or any steeking) will only lead to disappointment--- you know it will!

Nothing knitworthy for Ravelympics but I'm sure enjoying watching those of the knitterly persuasion around me work on their projects.

And I'm off...........................

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Finally, the yoke begins!

Not much to say here------- plugging away on all fronts. My back went out (ack) which means I really can't sit and knit much. The ugly truth is that I can't do much of anything which is frustrating. I hate to have anything outside my control dictate my activity, you know how it goes.

But the yoke for Lloie has finally begun! I really like the "surprise" color-- the green, and the first row of that soft cream and the black that will be the majority of the background of the yoke. Now that the raspberry yarn is going down I can't wait to see it finished, the next round of leaves after these are complete will be a soft pink, the last leaves are the cream. The yoke has long floats so I'm taking it slow in order to insure that nothing pulls or goes wonky on me when it is finished.

Yummy. [only wish I could] Get Knittin!

5 inches of snow last night and to make matters worse it will not make it above 20 or so today, it is brutal out there. Nevertheless I shall hobble to knit group tonight and sit (carefully) in a straight backed chair and knit for as long as I'm able. Now we see what truly motivates me!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Resolutions and Such

Resolutions are a good thing---- really. The problem is that we make them too big or too 'something' and then mixed with a fair bit of un-accountability they get lost in the seasons.

I looked at mine yesterday, 30 days after four of us sat around the kitchen while drinking coffee and prepping a meal together and wrote an email to all participants. Using my list and writing my successes and stalls I called for all of us to continue to hold each other accountable while renewing my personal vow for same.

Of those things on the list I can report that the most successful was my continued weight loss, down 22 more pounds since the first of the year. I can look forward to the problem of no spring clothes fitting and having to buy new ones, yay! Several of the things on my list were from the touchy feely category, like how to turn an attitude around. I had written (and discussed with the group) my desire to remember the adage "you can be right or be love". Heavy stuff indeed. In revisiting my 30 days I found that I'm not doing really well with it. Much of the time when I choose to "be love".......... I find that I simply stuff my initial irritation, I feel isolated/lonely/sad. This obviously is not the way to turn around the need to be right, the need to know that your opinions have value and that they matter.

So, what is the secret? How can you assert yourself while still maintaining an attitude of love and mellow it all together? I'm not sure but of course opinions are always welcome!

On the knitting front I've managed two whole rows on Lloie------- and Citroen is languishing. Some productivity today will bring me to knit group tonight where I hope to knit a bit on both. At least coffee and chattering will happen which makes me smile!

Monday, February 1, 2010

No Yoke--- Citroen

Sorry, bad pun!

The Lloie cardigan is perking along, the body is joined up and I'm about 2/3 through with adding onto the yoke before the design. Once again, I enter the not enough yarn freak out stage. Breeeeeeeeeeeeathe.

And Citroen which was frogged last Tuesday was re-knit to the place where the third increase happens, two ruched bands are complete. I like it a LOT more on the 4's------- it's really an addictive knit I can see why it is so popular around the knit world.

The last push before vacation (a month to go) and my knitting still calls me to find time, make time, use time. I'm not a slow knitter but why do I have less to show for my knitting? I think I'm suffering from productive knitter envy!