|Joys of Steeking, Ways of Cutting Crochet
(Freshly steeked design in progress.)
I never imagined that steeking could be fun and that I’d look for excuses to do it more.
It's exciting for crochet as a construction method and a type of stitch engineering. I searched old crochet swatches for different kinds of stitches to cut for this newsletter.
Steeking is when you cut open a slit in crochet, or more commonly, in knits. (The term is tightly associated with knitting Fair Isle sweaters in the round because it's easier to cut armholes and a cardigan opening later.) A lifeline is a length of scrap yarn that's woven through stitch loops along a cut edge to prevent unraveling until they can be permanently secured.
As a construction method, steeking is very liberating for crochet. Adding armholes, head openings, front openings, or pocket slits only after crocheting a big piece of fabric is not just simpler to crochet, it's easier to customize fit. It can even make yarn substitutions easier: just keep crocheting until you’ve used all the yarn you wish. Then, center the armholes or head opening based on the resulting shape. I'm pinning crochet steeking ideas here.
Different Crochet Stitches Steek Differently.
The stitch engineering aspect reveals promising things about crochet stitches. Some crochet stitches are a joy to steek. Others can be engineered to become steek-friendly. It also depends on whether you're cutting within one row or across rows.
Cutting within one row or round creates only two yarn ends (with a few exceptions), no matter how wide the opening. For regular crochet, make sure you cut only one loop of a stitch in the middle of where you want the hole; then unravel stitch by stitch before and after the cut loop so that both yarn ends will be long enough to weave in securely. You may need to weave a lifeline first, but see My Takeaways below.
With Tunisian crochet, it depends on the stitch. You might need to weave in four ends instead of two, and you might need to employ a lifeline. (See My Takeaways below.)
Cutting a vertical column of stitches across rows creates lots of yarn ends. Armholes are usually added to a knit Fair Isle tube by cutting vertical slits. A special kind of bridging stitch that is designed to be cut is used. (Knitters also traditionally call these steeks; crocheters use chains for this purpose.) Just like Fair Isle yokes, some stitches are best crocheted in the round.
My Takeaways & Discoveries
Cutting within one row/round of stitches is easier and faster as a construction method, and more revealing about stitch structure, than cutting a column of stitches across several rows. (For cutting a column, I'd prefer tall stitches for fewer ends to deal with, and a love knot bridge.)
Stitch height matters with regular crochet stitches. The shorter the stitch, the less you need to worry about fixing loosened stitch loops within the row. I look for ss or sc (see stitch abbreviations at bottom of column) and whether the "feet" of sc wrap around several strands for bulk.
If a stitch pattern has alternating rows, cut the row that would take the least amount of work to fix. Broomstick lace is a good example. A row of long loops alternates with a row of all sc. If I had cut the sc row, I’d have to secure a mess of long loops somehow.
If a stitch pattern has a mix of stitch types within the same row, I have to swatch and cut it to know what will happen. (Can't yet predict by just looking at it!)
Some Tunisian stitches are a pure joy to cut (see #49 'TEKSporations' for Tunisian Lace). I’ve created some fun stitch patterns with them for the steeking class next month.
Tunisian simple stitch (Tss) is an example of one that's easy enough to control when cut, but it leaves behind a floating return pass that requires an extra step. Either it also needs to be cut (adding two more ends to weave in), or it needs an edging to attach it to stitches next to it.
I'd need a double mocha to cut Tunisian knit stitch and full stitch (Tks, Tfs). I’d also have a lifeline ready. These wily stitches want to unravel vertically, like dropped stitches in knitting.
A bonus when steeking within one row is that the resulting slit follows the direction of the row. So you could create instant vertical-slit armholes just by crocheting side-to-side rows. For a circle vest you could have curved vertical armholes if you crocheted in rounds, or radiating diagonal armholes if you crocheted the circle in short rows.
A steeked slip stitch row is simply fabulous. It needs no lifeline or other fuss. It’s a stable fabric—no loose loops or weird stretching out. A steeked single crochet row can also be fuss-free, depending. Lacy patterns are generally better. A solid row of them will look looser, loopy, and a bit stretched out.
Love knot meshes are happy to steek! If you think about it, love knots connect to a row with just a sc here and there. If I knew ahead of time that I'd be cutting a love knot mesh, I'd enhance its steekability by stitching into more than 2 loops of the love knots as I crochet the mesh. This would add bulk to what the freed-up sc “feet” are holding onto. I’d even try using ss instead.
Abbrev's: ch=chain, sc=single crochet, sl st=slip stitch.
That's it for #79! If you know someone who would enjoy this kind of newsletter, please forward this to them so that they can subscribe. (Click here to subscribe: ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks! --Vashti Helpful links: