How to steek – crochet method

Steeking means that you cut right through your knitting. Now, don’t get your scissors out just yet. You need to prepare your attack: secure your stitches first to avoid the rest of your work unravelling.

Steeking is usually done in circular knitting. It’s said to be very useful to get your armholes right in fair-isle work, or for turning a knit-in-the-round sweater into a cardigan. I have made a steek to create a thumbhole into a sleeve.

To steek using the crochet method, you can work over 3 or 5 stitches. In my case, the garment was already knit when I realized I would be doing some steeking. So I did it over 3 stitches, so as not to lose a lot of stitches. Doing it over 3 stitches means that you will reinforce the outer stitches with crochet stitches and will then cut through the center of the center stitch. Doesn’t that sound simple?

What you need

  • A small, sharp pair of scissors
  • A piece of yarn in a contrasting colour
  • A tapestry needle
  • The garment you’re going to attack
  • Some left-over yarn you want to use to crochet the edges of your steek with
  • A crochet hook that is a slightly smaller size than your knitting needles. For example: if you used size 4.5 needles for your knitting, use a size 4 crochet hook.
How to steek


Prerequisites: You need to know how to make the following crochet stitches:

  • slip stitch
  • single crochet 
  1. Decide where you need to cut your garment.
    Example: If you’re turning a sweater into a cardigan, you will need to make a steek in the center front. To make the thumbhole, I needed to steek in the center bottom of the sleeve. I was lucky, I needed to do it in between the grey and the black of the sleeve. That was a nice visual aid.
  2. Take a close look at the stitches where the steek should come. Look for the vertical line of V-shaped stitches that make up the cutting area.
    To make it more clear, I’ve indicated the V-shapes in red in the picture.
    How to steek - crochet method
  3. Take a piece of yarn in contrasting colour and, with a tapestry needle, weave it through the center of the V-shaped stitches.
    This piece of yarn will function as a visual aid while you cut through the center of these stitches.
    How to steek - crochet method
  4. Make a slip stitch on your crochet hook.
    How to steek - crochet method
  5. Look at your garment again and turn your work so you can start at the bottom of your steek.
    Note: You’ll be crocheting through the V’s of the stitches on the left and right of your soon-to-be-steeked V’s. The stitches look just as crochet stitches when you hold them like that.
  6. Do a single crochet in the first V of your steek.
    If you’re start  the first stitch
    left-handed on the left. How to steek - crochet method
    right-handed on the right. How to steek - crochet method
  7. Repeat in each V on the verticle line.

    Left-handed Right-handed
    How to steek - crochet method      How to steek - crochet method
    How to steek - crochet method How to steek - crochet method
  8. If you’re making you will need to 
    a cardigan
    • bind off at the end of the line; and 
    • repeat step 7-8 on the other side.
    a thumbhole
    • do a single crochet at the top/bottom of your center steeking row, so as to join one side of the thumbhole with the other side;
    • repeat step 7-8 on the other side; and
    • do a single crochet at the top/bottom of your center steeking row and join with a slip stitch to the first single crochet you made.
  9. Bind off.
  10. Put your hand underneath your steeking area, and stretch the stitches as wide as they go.
    How to steek - crochet method

    Note: You can also lay your garment flat and pin it down, if you find that easier.

  11. Look at the contrasting-coloured yarn you weaved in and carefully cut the horizontal bridges of your stitches.
    Important: Pay close attention so as not to cut the V’s themselves or the adjacent crocheted stitches.
    How to steek - crochet method

Finished!

How to steek - crochet method      
How to steek - crochet method

Biker boy cardigan

There goes my first cardigan! I’m very pleased with the result, it looks great, if I say so myself. I’m convinced my husband will actually wear it more than the one obligatory time. So that is one marriage saved!

Biker boy cardigan

What I liked
It’s a plain stockinette stitch. I know a lot of people are put off by projects like that because they think it gets very boring, but I don’t. For me, it means relaxed knitting, without having to think about the pattern too much. I could sit back, knit, and enjoy numerous episodes of Grey’s anatomy. And Weeds. And The Big Bang Theory. In other words, it makes a great excuse for my couch potato syndrome 🙂

The sleeves are knit in. No fussing about afterwards to get them exactly right, the pattern forces you to get them in where they need to be. And the way it’s done looks so nice. This definitely is a way of knitting that I hope to encounter more.

Biker boy cardigan

The neck is finished so it has a lining. Extra thick and extra warm. It gives it a cozy look. I actually like wearing it myself. Too bad it’s way too large for me.

Biker boy cardigan

There’s hardly any seams to close up afterwards. The only ones there are in the bottom half of the sleeves, next to the vertical stripe. And I guess you can avoid these as well by doing the whole sleeve in the round, instead of knitting flat and then joining. Maybe something I’ll do next time!

Rough patches
Casting on stitches for the sleeves was a bit of a mystery at first. Since there is a vertical stripe in them, I needed to change colours at one point. It puzzled me, and I really didn’t have a clue how to do it. While, in fact, it’s not that difficult at all. Just like you do when you need to switch to a new ball or when you are working intarsia, you need to twist the old yarn with the new yarn, and then move on as if nothing ever happened. Just make sure to twist it rather tightly, since this is the edge of your sleeve.

Biker boy cardigan

The skull patch was a bit difficult as well, but, once again, that was completely my fault. I didn’t know what technique to use, so I started doing stranded knitting. Not the best choice. It looked like a skull, but I had been pulling my yarn too tightly and it made the patch look rather lumpy instead of straight. So I frogged it and started over, doing intarsia this time. Way better.

Biker boy cardigan

Not really a rough patch, but certainly a time consumer: getting the zipper in. The pattern says to wash the cardigan first, before you measure it for a zipper. And then I still had to get to the store to get the zipper. And then, of course, get my sewing machine out to get the zipper in.

What I altered
This pattern has really long sleeves, so I added thumbholes to them. My hubby wanted them, and I thought it was a great idea. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as simple as just leaving a hole while doing the seam of the sleeve. Because both sleeves are knit in exactly the same way and because this also involves a vertical stripe, the seam ends up in a different place when you get the sleeves in. So, for the right sleeve, I could just leave a bit of the seam open to get a thumbhole. But for the left sleeve, the seam ended up slightly to the back. So, to get the thumbhole right, I had to steek. That’s right, I had to cut my hard work! I’ll explain how I did that in a separate post. I must say it made me a little bit nervous, but once I saw the result, I knew it was worth it. I’m never doubting the steek method again.

Biker boy cardigan

All in all, knitting this cardigan took me about 1,5 months. I was really motivated to get this right and I concentrated on this project alone. It was quite addictive as well, I wanted to pick up my needles to get on with it almost all the time. At first I thought it would take me forever, with the renovations in the new house and everything. But now I think that I needed a project that’s not related to that house in any way, just to get my mind off it. And it sure worked! I should pick out another cardigan or sweater to knit soon. Maybe for myself this time, haha.

Biker boy cardigan