My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Dude, Where’s My Ark?

Um, yeah. We have been getting some rain. The rain has caused all sorts of transportation hijinks. Mudslide on the Beltway! Constitution Avenue under water! Subway station flooded! I did, however, make it to work with minimal problems. And back home again, which is far more important.

The sky this afternoon:


And then it started raining again.


Some of you expressed confusion in the comments over how (and why) I steeked the band so I could knit it in the round. Okay. This is a v-neck cardi, so you start picking up stitches at the bottom edge of the right side of the front, go up around the neck, and down the other side. You end up with 350+ stitches for the band on your needle. The pattern directs you to work these stitches back and forth — it’s one long row after all. Something I loathe worse than corrugated ribbing? Corrugated ribbing on the wrong side.

So I started out by casting five stitches onto a needle, placing a marker, then I picked up all the stitches for the band, going up the right side, around the neck, and down the left side. When I got to the bottom edge of the left front, I placed a marker and cast on five stitches. Those ten stitches (the five at the beginning and the five at the end) made up the steek. I joined the work, and merrily knit in the round. Well, not merrily because it is, after all, corrugated ribbing. But you know what I mean.

Still confused? Here is a highly technical drawing showing you what I did.


The shaded-in area is the steek.

So, when I finished the knitting and cast off (on Sunday morning), I cut the steek down the center, trimmed it, and carefully sewed it down on the wrong side.

While I was at it, I sewed buttons on the front band (I made buttonholes in one side of the front band, of course), and buttoned Mara up.


L-B, do you recognize these buttons? You gave them to me as a birthday gift ages ago. ๐Ÿ™‚


And on Sunday afternoon, I cut open one armhole steek and started a sleeve. Ta-da!


I do like the little collapsible scissors for cutting steeks. I find that they are sharp enough for steek cutting, and pretty much all knitting-related cutting.

Here’s the sleeve steek from the inside:


And the seam on the outside, showing where I picked up the sleeve stitches:


In answer to some comments questions, no I did not machine stitch the steeks — no finishing at all. Because this is made from shetland wool, which is sticky and hairy, it does not unravel. (You cut through the knitting vertically. If one were to cut horizontally, well, yeah, that would unravel.) After I finished knitting the band, I steamed the band and the steeks well. The steaming on the wrong side of the garment helps the cut steeks to felt a little, further ensuring that they are not going anywhere.

A number of you express disbelief that the cut knitting does not ravel. It does not. If you knit it at the proper gauge from the proper yarn, it does exactly what it is supposed to. So please do not be afraid of steeks. I’ve done fair isle steeks many, many times, and never had one go awry.

By the way, Dave, no that was not the Seinfeld puffy shirt I was wearing in yesterday’s blog entry. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ooh, almost forgot — I did finish a sock on Friday:


Socks That Rock in the Falcon’s Eye colorway. The leg is done in a fern lace pattern.




  1. I wouldn’t have thought Mara could get more beautiful – but I love those buttons! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. That is just amazing, Wendy. Mara is beautiful and your skills just never cease to blow me away.

  3. Ooh. That’s a very clever technique for the band. While I don’t mind corrugated ribbing, I do prefer to do it all from the right side. I’ll have to remember that the next time I knit a fair isle cardigan.

    I’m going to search through your archives for the answer to this (as I have a feeling that you might have mentioned it before), but while I’m commenting, anyway, can you talk about sleeves? What is your preferred method for knitting them? I just deleted several paragraphs of comment on my thoughts on techniques for knitting small circumferences in the round in fair isle patterns, but as you’re probably not interested in all of that, I’ll leave it here. But I’m interested in your thoughts on the matter, because I’m just about to start the sleeves on a fair isle, using a different technique than I’ve used before. So this sort of thing is on my mind at the moment.

  4. Wendy that sweater is simply amazing!! I am embarassed for my lack of better words. I just love it. I can’t believe how quickly you knit that darn thing AND a lace sock to boot! My hats off to you! You are a knitting inspiration.

  5. You are a steekin genius, man! The picture of the band steek totally explained it for me. I doubt I would have even thought to do something like that myself.

    I don’t even have a project on my to-do list that’s steekable. That may change soon.

  6. karen w says:

    Wendy, Mara is looking *gorgeous*. I’m always in awe of your knitting prowess. You make that steek business look like child’s play.
    The Falcon’s Eye sock turned out great, too. I’m contemplating which STR to use on my next sock. Decisions, decisions…..

  7. Alice in Richmond says:

    Sigh. Of course Mara is beauteous. Will you give her to me? Pretty please?

    Did you make that shirt from yesterday Wendy? Huh? Maybe back in the 70’s? You know you did.


  8. When you change colors in the steek zone (yeah, I made that up) do you simply drop one and pick the other up or do you join the two (like spit splicing) (or some other method I am clueless about)? Mara looks gorgeous – I love the buttons.

  9. Steeking the front band as you did makes so much sense! You have made my knitting day despite the rain.

  10. sherilan says:

    Beautiful sweater! I’ve had my eye on some similar buttons. And I really like the fern lace socks. That 365 knitting patterns is a great resource.

  11. I love the colour and pattern of the socks.

  12. Oh that’s bloody brilliant…I think I’d hate doing corrugated ribbing from the wrong side too…

    But man alive, I thought I was a fairly rapid knitter…you’re BIONIC…

  13. As many have said, the sweater is just amazing. When I grow up, I want to knit one too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Glad your commute wasn’t any more harrowing than it was. Just out of curiosity, do you have any walking that you have to do for your commute? I’m about to have a 20 min. walk between Penn Station and my office and I’m trying to get myself set up for knitting while walking. Just wondering if you do that and what kind of bag or whatnot you might use.

  14. Brilliant, brilliant work!

    I think steeking is one of those things you just can’t believe until you take the leap and do it yourself… then it won’t seem so scary.

  15. Yes,,,I get it!!! The picture made things click…Im a visual person!! Do you like Knit Picks yarn for fairisle they use for the sweater that uses a billion colors?

  16. You. Are. So. Awesome!!!

  17. Mud slides? That’s SERIOUS weather out your way. Of course, I’ll bet you have some all-weather knitting bags to keep Mara safe and sound.
    Glad to know it’s not THE shirt.

  18. Beautiful sweater! Just a quick question: If you are picking up the sleeves from the armhole edge, won’t the little “v” parts of the stitches be upside down as compared to those on the front? Generally this would not matter, but in Fair Isle color work, in which the “v” really is distinct and isolated, is that a concern?

  19. Oh, that Fern Lace is lovely! (Sorry, I cover my eyes and go “la la la la la” when steeks come up – but thanks for NOT including pictures of big scary scissors like Eunny does!)

  20. What?! You’re knitting the sleeves down from the steek? Don’t you usually knit the sleeves separately? I’m looking forward to seeing the progress…I’ve actually been waiting for you to knit some sleeves down from the steek so I can COPY (heheh…yea, I’m definitely not above shamelessly stealing good techniques from the master).

  21. Glad to hear you and Lucy are dry!

    Oh no *groan*… now I have ANOTHER sock to add to my list ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

  22. Yeah. Noah sure doesn’t look like such a chump anymore, does he? Imagine 40 days and 40 nights of this.

  23. It’s been raining pretty bad in Philly too. But as long as I have my knitting I don’t really mind. But my softball game tomorrow might be cancelled ๐Ÿ™

  24. Wow! NOW i get it! I love the idea of knitting the band in the round! Maybe now is a good time to start some fair isle and try out the steeked band, or the banded steek (Sounds like a critter!). We may all be living on lots of little islands surrounding the D.C. area. At least since I’m in Columbia, I should be able to row to the MDS&WF next May, but I think I need more than the innertubes we have here now…

  25. Wendy, I have a question for you, as you’ve done far more steeking than most other people I know, and recently you mentioned that you’ve done slipped stitch colourwork in the past, so I am hoping you might be able to answer this. I have a lot of trouble doing stranded colourwork due to a physical condition, and generally do colourwork using slipped stitches. I’d like to make the Weeping Sun/Moon sweater from from Meg Swansen’s “Knitting,” but I wasn’t sure if it’s possible to do steeking the same way with slipped stitches as it does with stranded colourwork.

    Do you know whether steeks would work the same way with slipped stitches as with stranded colourwork? If not, is there any sort of modification I can do to make it work for steeking?

    Thank you!

    P.S. You think you’ve got rain? I’m from Pittsburgh!

  26. I installed those same buttons on my mom’s cardigan! Meanwhile, do you just steam colorwork, or do you wash it? Also, I would like to hear your opinion on someone that is really annoying me:

    I have Cheryl Oberle’s book “Folk Vests” and several of the vests are Fair Isle/stranded/etc. and employ J&S shetland wool. When she upsizes the patterns, she merely uses a bigger needle. For example, the small size uses a US4, but the large uses a US6. Tell me if I’m off-base here, but wouldn’t this cause some problems with stranding the pattern AND cutting the steeks?? I’m a little verklempt here. Should I upsize the pattern using the CORRECT tension for jumper-weight wool?

  27. Mara is stunning! I love watching your “extreme” knitting cause that will NEVER be me! (no one in a cool enough climate for fairisle!)

  28. Wendy, that is the cooooolest idea! I love it, and I’m so using the technique next time I’m buttonbanding in Shetland! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Silly question – what circular needle length are you using for the arms?

  29. I am gobsmacked!!!

  30. Lindsay says:

    You are the best knitter ever! That is so lovely and I don’t even like fairisle!

  31. Meribeth says:

    Mara is a true work of art. Wendy, words fail me…

  32. Thanks for the explanatio and the “technical” drawing. It makes more sense now. Your talents are awesome. Stay dry!

  33. Suzanne says:

    I tried to post this question yesterday, but couldn’t get my comment to post for some reason. I was wondering what happens to all of the yarn ends when you trim them. I would expect to still see some little ends, but your edge looked so smooth, I couldn’t see any remnants of them. Could you explain how far down you trim them and then what you do with them when you are picking up your stitches?

    The sweater looks incredible! You never cease to amaze me even thought I have seen you make numerous fair isle sweaters over the years. One of these days I am going to jump in and try. You at least have me working on fair isle mittens at the moment.

  34. Mara’s fantastic. The buttons just add that wonderful finishing touch. I really like that sock–the lace and colorway match up beautifully.

    And that’s it. I’m going to make a shetland wool fair isle this fall/winter. I can do it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    (Also, my son just adores the pictures of Lucy. She’s so lovely.)

  35. Glad to hear you are staying dry! The sweater is gorgeous.

  36. She gets more beautiful each day:) With all your helpful advice, I think I’m finally ready for a smaller fair isle project.

    Glad to hear you are safe from the rains.

  37. This is like a master’s class / seminar: awesome….nothing like learning from a master /mistress…..glad you are dry (feet wise, at least…..hopefully, no blue laws apply)… out in CA…..and muggy today (eck!)……

  38. Hey Wendy- I like to stop by your blog- it makes me feel so unproductive and inadequate- LOL! No, really, it actually makes me want to work harder, and gives me incentive. My FI seems to be taking a long time.

  39. Mara is the absolute BEST!!!! That would take me about 5 years to complete…Dude your neighborhood looks South Florida during rainy season, what’s up with all that? We’re 10″ below normal here, someone tipped the balance…Please tell Lucy that Linus continues to drool over her.

  40. Mara’s gorgeous. I just love it when the Fair Isle muse starts whispering in your ear.

    And the sock? Ooooh, I like that too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. What really blows me away is HOW FAST you are knitting this. It impresses me as much as your workmanship – which is impressive, too.

    As a steeker myself, I wonder, do you ever knit facings? I’m of two minds about it myself, and wonder what your opinion is.

  42. Thought of you whent they said that travel in the DC area was bad and more rain expected today. Stay dry!

  43. Must. Not. Start. Laleli. Must. Finish. Torino.


    You’re such a bad influence. But such a very good knitter.

  44. Yup, you’ve convinced me to try color knitting. I will start on a very small project. It will undoubtedly take me a long, long time, but it will get done. Your cleverness and talent simply amazes me!

  45. Beatiful.Congratulations for your blog.I put your link in my blog.You’re inveted to visite my blog.kisses.mary

  46. Your knitting always takes my breath away! It is so pretty!

  47. Carol Arena says:

    Wendy – a masterpiece! Should be hanging in a museum.

  48. Debra Kuron says:

    I’m currently blogless, but felt compelled to write. I’ve just discovered your blog a few short weeks ago and am totally in awe. Now I just can’t wait to read each day and see what you’ve accomplished. I’m not a novice knitter, but certainly don’t have your expertise. Socks are my favorite project (I always seem to have pair going) and I’m currently knitting a rather generic sweater. Although I don’t think I’m ready for a Fair Isle pattern just yet, you’ve inspired me to try something a bit more complex (at least for me). I look forward to sharing your joy of knitting, process or not. ๐Ÿ™‚

  49. OMG you did an amazing job!!!! It is absolutely beautiful!!! I dont comment much but had to come out of lurkdom to say W-O-W!

  50. C’est magnifique!

  51. I had a very exciting lunch, I cut my first knitting. It was just on a store bought mitten that I’m fixing up for a friend who has a disabled hand, but a new knitter sitting at the table at the LYS, I thought her jaw was gonna hit the floor. It was hilarious. Now I’m ready to carry on with my fair isle sweaters, of course first I really should finish this mitten redo.

  52. love the greens and bands ๐Ÿ™‚

  53. Do you have a secret team of goblins who knit away on your project all night while you sleep? Otherwise, I can’t see how you do it so fast!

    I have a question: what make are your ebony circulars and where do get them, please? (Excuse me if this has been answered before – I’ve only discovered you recently.)

    Thanks, Honor