How to Steek Knitting

How to Steek Knitting

Steeking is a technique used in knitting that allows you to cut a piece of knitted fabric without unravelling it. This technique is commonly used when knitting garments such as sweaters, cardigans, and vests that require openings for buttons, zippers, or armholes. Steeking can be intimidating for beginner knitters, but with the right tools and instructions, it can be a relatively simple process.

One of the main benefits of steeking is that it allows you to knit garments in the round, which is faster and eliminates the need for seaming. Steeking also allows for greater flexibility in design, as you can easily add or remove stitches without the limitations of working flat. However, it’s important to note that steeking should only be done on certain types of knitted fabrics, such as those made from wool or wool blends, as these fibers have a natural tendency to “stick” together and prevent unravelling.

To begin the steeking process, you will need to mark the area where you want to cut your fabric. This can be done by using contrasting yarn or thread to create a line of stitches on either side of the desired cut. It’s important to be precise with your marking to ensure that your cut will be straight and even. Once your fabric is marked, you can reinforce the steek by adding additional stitches on either side of the marked line. This can be done by picking up stitches or knitting new ones directly onto the fabric.

Once the steek is reinforced, you can prepare to cut your fabric. It’s important to use a sharp pair of scissors and make small, precise cuts. Start by cutting through the center of the marked line, and continue cutting until you have completely separated the fabric. It can be helpful to have a hand on either side of the cut to gently hold the fabric together and prevent any stretching or unraveling. Once the fabric is cut, you can finish the raw edges by sewing them down, either with a sewing machine or by hand.

Steeking can be a nerve-wracking process, but with practice and patience, it can become a valuable technique in your knitting repertoire. By following these step-by-step instructions and taking care with your cuts and finishes, you can successfully steek your knitting and create beautiful, professional-looking garments. So don’t be afraid to give it a try and take your knitting to the next level!

What is Steek Knitting

Steek knitting is a technique used in traditional Fair Isle or stranded colorwork knitting to create openings in the fabric. It involves cutting through the knitted fabric to create a functional slit or opening for a zipper, button band, or pocket.

This technique is commonly used in traditional Scandinavian and Shetland knitting, where garments often have intricate colorwork patterns. Steeking allows the knitter to work the colorwork in the round, creating a seamless garment, and then cut open the fabric to add the desired openings.

Steeking is achieved by reinforcing the fabric with additional stitches before cutting, which prevents unraveling and adds stability to the edges of the steek. The two most common methods for reinforcing a steek are using a crochet reinforcement or sewing a machine stitch along the edge of the desired opening.

Once the steek is reinforced, the fabric is cut along the center of the steek, creating the desired opening. The cut edges are then finished by folding them under and securing them with a stitch, such as a whipstitch or a crocheted edge.

Steek knitting can seem intimidating to beginners, as it involves cutting into a finished piece of knitting. However, with proper reinforcement and careful cutting, it can be a rewarding technique that allows for more versatility in design and finishing options.

Advantages of Steek Knitting

Steek knitting offers several advantages:

  1. Seamless Construction: Steeking allows for the creation of seamless garments, as the colorwork is worked in the round. This results in a more comfortable and flattering fit.
  2. Design Flexibility: Steeking adds versatility to colorwork designs, as it allows for the addition of openings, such as zippers or button bands, which can enhance the functionality and aesthetics of the garment.
  3. Time-saving: Steeking can save time by eliminating the need to knit separate pieces and seam them together.

While steek knitting requires some additional steps and caution during the cutting process, it is an excellent technique for knitters who want to explore colorwork and create unique, seamless garments.

Getting Started

Steeking is a technique used in knitting to create openings or cut pieces in your knitting fabric. It is commonly done to add armholes or neck openings in a seamless garment. While the idea of cutting your knitted fabric may sound intimidating, it can be a great way to add versatility to your project and achieve a more professional finish.

Here are the steps to get started with steeking:

  1. Choose the right yarn and pattern: Make sure you select a yarn that is suitable for steeking. Wool and wool-blend yarns are generally recommended for their ability to handle the steeking process. Additionally, choose a pattern that includes steeks or provides instructions on how to add them.
  2. Use a provisional cast-on: Before you start knitting your garment, use a provisional cast-on to create a temporary edge. This will allow you to easily pick up stitches later when you’re ready to create the steek.
  3. Knit the garment: Follow the pattern instructions to knit the main body of your garment. Take care to maintain any desired stitch patterns or colorwork throughout the project.
  4. Secure the steek stitches: When you reach the point where you want to create the steek, use a contrasting color yarn or stitch markers to mark the middle stitches of the steek. These stitches will be cut later on, so it’s important to secure them in place.
  5. Knit a few extra rows: Before you begin the steeking process, knit a few extra rows in the chosen contrast color. This will provide a safety margin, making it easier to identify and secure the cut edges.
  6. Prepare the steek: Switch to a smaller needle size and work a few rows in a stable stitch pattern, such as garter stitch or ribbing. This will help reinforce the steek stitches and prevent unraveling.
  7. Cut the steek: Using sharp scissors, carefully cut through the center of the steek stitches. Take your time and work slowly to ensure you cut only the necessary stitches without damaging the surrounding fabric.
  8. Secure the cut edges: Immediately after cutting the steek, pick up stitches along the cut edges using a crochet hook or knitting needle. This will prevent the cut edges from unraveling and create a neat finish.
  9. Continue with your project: Once the steek is cut and the edges are secured, you can continue knitting or add any desired finishing touches to your project, such as adding a button band or sewing in a lining.

Remember, steeking requires careful attention and precision. Take your time, practice on a swatch before attempting it on your actual project, and have confidence in your abilities. With practice, steeking can open up a whole new world of possibilities in your knitting projects.

Choosing the Right Yarn

When it comes to steeking knitting, choosing the right yarn is crucial. The yarn you choose will determine how well your steeks hold up when cut, as well as the overall appearance of your finished project.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing yarn for steeking:

  1. Fiber Content: The fiber content of the yarn will affect the durability of the steeks. Wool is a popular choice for steeking because it has natural elasticity, which helps the cut edges stay in place. Other animal fibers like alpaca and mohair can also work well. Avoid yarns with too much synthetic fiber, as they may not hold up as well.
  2. Weight: The weight of the yarn is also important. Steeks need to be able to withstand the stress of cutting, so a sturdy, medium-weight yarn is recommended. Avoid using lightweight or delicate yarns, as they may not hold up as well.
  3. Color: The color of the yarn can also affect the appearance of the steeks. If you are planning to cut your knitting and expose the steeks, you may want to choose a yarn color that complements the main color of your project. Alternatively, you can use a contrast color to make the steeks stand out.

It’s also worth considering whether the yarn has been treated or processed in any way. Some yarns have been superwash treated, which can affect their ability to hold steeks securely. If possible, choose a yarn that has not been superwash treated.


Fiber Content Weight Color Treatment
Wool Medium Complement or Contrast Non-Superwash
Alpaca Medium Complement or Contrast Non-Superwash
Mohair Medium Complement or Contrast Non-Superwash

Remember to always swatch and test your yarn before starting your steeking project to ensure that it will hold up well when cut.

Selecting the Appropriate Needles

When it comes to steeking a knitted project, choosing the right needle is crucial. The needle you select will depend on several factors, including the weight and structure of your project, as well as your personal preference. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when selecting the appropriate needles for steeking:

  • Needle Size: The size of the needle you choose will depend on the weight of your project. For lighter weight yarns, such as lace or fingering, a smaller needle size, such as US 2-4 (2.75-3.5mm), may be appropriate. For heavier weight yarns, such as worsted or bulky, a larger needle size, such as US 7-9 (4.5-5.5mm), may be more suitable.
  • Needle Material: The material of the needle can also affect your steeking process. Some knitters prefer metal needles for their smoothness, while others prefer wooden or bamboo needles for their grip and warmth. Experimenting with different needle materials can help you find what works best for you.
  • Circular or Straight: Steeking can be done with either circular or straight needles, depending on your preference. Circular needles are often recommended for larger projects, as they can hold more stitches and distribute the weight evenly. Straight needles may be more comfortable for smaller projects or if you prefer working with them.
  • Extra Needles: Depending on your steeking method, you may also need extra needles for holding stitches or for reinforcement. Double-pointed needles or stitch holders can be useful for securing stitches during the steeking process.

Keep in mind that the right needle for steeking will ultimately depend on your unique project and personal preferences. It’s always a good idea to do some swatching and experimentation before starting your steeking process to ensure you have the most appropriate needles for the job.

Preparing to Steek

Steeking is a technique used in knitting to add openings in your fabric, such as for a cardigan front or armholes. Before you begin the process of steeking, there are a few important steps to take to ensure success.

  • Choose the right yarn and needles: It’s important to select a yarn and needle combination that will create a dense, stable fabric. Steeks require a strong structure to prevent unraveling. Wool and wool-blend yarns are often the best choice for steeking.
  • Create a swatch: Before you start your steek project, it’s crucial to knit a swatch and wash and block it as you would with your finished item. Measure the gauge and make any necessary adjustments to ensure your final piece will be the correct size after steeking.
  • Reinforce the steek: To prevent unraveling, it’s common practice to reinforce the area where the steek will be cut. This can be done using a sewing machine, hand-sewing, or a crochet slip stitch. It’s important to choose a reinforcing method that works well with your project and yarn.

Another important consideration is the design of your garment. Steeks work best with certain types of patterns, such as colorwork or stranded knitting, where the fabric is already stable due to the carrying of multiple yarns. Additionally, it’s important to plan the placement of the steek to ensure a seamless transition in your design.

Overall, preparing to steek involves selecting the right materials, creating a swatch to test gauge, reinforcing the steek area, and considering the design of your garment. By taking these steps, you’ll be well on your way to successfully steeking your knitting project.

Blocking Your Knitted Piece

Blocking is an important final step in the knitting process. It helps to shape and even out the stitches, ensuring that your finished piece looks its best. Here are some steps to follow when blocking your knitted piece:

  1. Preparation: Before you begin blocking, read the yarn label for any specific blocking instructions. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies, including blocking mats or towels, T-pins or blocking wires, and a spray bottle filled with water or a blocking solution.
  2. Wet blocking: Most knitted pieces are blocked by wetting them. Fill a sink or basin with lukewarm water and gently immerse your knitted piece. Let it soak for about 15-20 minutes to fully absorb the water.
  3. Remove excess water: After soaking, carefully remove the knitted piece from the water. Do not wring or twist it, as this can stretch and damage the fibers. Instead, gently press the water out by rolling the piece in a clean towel or by squeezing it between your hands.
  4. Shape and pin: Lay out your blocking mats or towels on a flat surface and place your damp knitted piece on top. Use T-pins or blocking wires to pin the edges, stretching the fabric slightly if necessary to achieve the desired measurements and shape. Follow the pattern instructions for any specific shaping guidelines.
  5. Dry thoroughly: Allow your knitted piece to air dry completely. This may take a few hours to overnight, depending on the thickness of the yarn and the humidity level in the room. Avoid exposing the piece to direct sunlight or high heat, as this can cause the fibers to become brittle.
  6. Final touches: Once your knitted piece is dry, carefully remove the pins or wires. The blocking process should have evened out the stitches and given your project a more polished look.

Blocking is especially important for lace projects, as it opens up the lace pattern and allows it to shine. However, even simple stockinette or garter stitch pieces can benefit from blocking to improve the overall appearance and drape.

Remember to always refer to the specific instructions for your particular knitting project, as some yarns may require alternative blocking methods or additional care.

Reinforcing the Steek

Reinforcing the Steek

Before cutting your steek, it’s important to reinforce it to prevent unraveling. There are a few different methods you can use to do this:

1. Crochet Reinforcement:

  • With a crochet hook, slip stitch along each side of the steek, creating a border of single crochet stitches.
  • Work one or more additional rows of single crochet stitches above and below the steek for added stability.

2. Machine Reinforcement:

  • Use a sewing machine to sew a line of straight stitches along each side of the steek.
  • For extra durability, you can sew multiple lines of stitches parallel to each other.

3. Hand-Sewn Reinforcement:

  • Using a tapestry needle and matching yarn, sew a line of running stitches along each side of the steek.
  • For added strength, sew multiple lines of stitches parallel to each other.

4. Ribbon Reinforcement:

  • Cut a narrow strip of ribbon that is slightly longer than the length of your steek.
  • Secure the ribbon to each side of the steek using a whipstitch or small running stitches.
  • This method adds both reinforcement and a decorative touch to your steek.

Note: The method you choose for reinforcing your steek will depend on your personal preference and the type of project you’re working on. It’s a good idea to experiment with different techniques to find the one that works best for you.

Caution: Make sure to reinforce your steek before cutting it to prevent unraveling. Cutting a steek without reinforcement can cause your project to unravel and ruin all of your hard work.


A steek is a method used in knitting to create openings or cut lines in a knitted fabric. It is commonly used in traditional Fair Isle or stranded colorwork knitting. Steeking is a way to add structure to a garment or to create openings for pockets, armholes, or cardigan fronts.

To steek, you will need a circular knitting needle or a crochet hook, a sewing machine or a hand sewing needle and yarn or thread in a contrasting color.

How to Steek Knitting

  1. Secure the edges of the steek: Before you start cutting, it is important to secure the edges of the steek to prevent unraveling. You can achieve this by either adding a few rows of reinforcement stitches in a strong yarn, or by using slip-stitch crochet along the edge. This will create a stable edge for cutting.
  2. Mark the cutting line: Use a contrasting color of yarn to mark the line where you want to cut. This can be done by either sewing a line of running stitches or by using a removable stitch marker.
  3. Prepare for cutting: With the steek secured and the cutting line marked, you are ready to cut. Take a deep breath and make sure you have a sharp pair of scissors or a rotary cutter ready.
  4. Cut the steek: Carefully cut along the marked line, making sure to cut through all layers of the fabric. Take your time and make small, precise cuts to avoid accidentally cutting into the garment itself.
  5. Reinforce the cut edges: Once the steek is cut, the raw edges of the fabric will need to be reinforced to prevent unraveling. This can be done by either hand sewing or machine stitching along the cut edges using a small zigzag stitch or a whipstitch.
  6. Finish the garment: After reinforcing the cut edges, you can continue knitting or add finishing touches to your garment. This may include adding button bands, picking up stitches for sleeves, or blocking the garment to shape.

Steeking can be intimidating at first, but with practice and proper reinforcement, it can become a useful technique in your knitting repertoire. Just remember to take your time, be patient, and enjoy the process!

Deciding Where to Steek

Steeking is a technique used in knitting to create openings in a knitted garment, typically for sleeves or cardigan fronts. Before you can start the steeking process, you need to decide where the steek will be placed in your project.

When deciding where to place the steek, consider the following:

  • Pattern instructions: Some patterns will provide specific guidance on where to place the steek. Make sure to follow these instructions to achieve the desired result.
  • Garment construction: Think about how the garment is constructed and where the steek will best fit in with the overall design. For example, if you’re knitting a cardigan, you may want to place the steek at the center front to create a symmetrical opening.
  • Seam allowance: Keep in mind that you will be cutting your knitting when you steek, so make sure to leave enough seam allowance on either side of the steek to prevent unraveling. A common seam allowance is 1-2 stitches on either side of the steek.
  • Pattern repeat: If your pattern has a specific stitch pattern or motif, consider how the steek will affect the placement of these elements. You may need to adjust the placement of the steek to maintain the integrity of the pattern.
  • Personal preference: Ultimately, the placement of the steek is up to you. Consider your own preferences and how you envision the finished garment. Experiment with different placements to find the one that works best for you.

Once you have decided on the placement of the steek, you can proceed with the steeking process. It’s important to carefully mark the steek area before cutting to ensure accuracy and minimize the risk of unraveling. Use stitch markers or contrasting yarn to clearly indicate the boundaries of the steek.

Remember, steeking can be an intimidating technique, but with careful planning and execution, it can open up a whole new world of knitting possibilities.

Cutting the Steek

Once your steek is fully secured with reinforcement stitches, it’s time to cut it open. Cutting the steek can be a little bit nerve-wracking, but if you’ve followed all of the previous steps correctly, there’s no need to worry!

Here’s how to cut the steek:

  1. Prepare your scissors: Before cutting, make sure you have a pair of sharp scissors that are suitable for cutting through your yarn. Some knitters prefer to use small, sharp embroidery scissors, while others use regular scissors. Use whatever feels comfortable and safe for you.
  2. Decide on the cutting line: Look closely at your knitting and determine where you want to cut the steek. This will depend on your pattern and the desired final shape of your project.
  3. Make a small snip: Start by making a small snip at the bottom of the steek, right along the cutting line. This will help you get started without accidentally cutting too much.
  4. Take a deep breath and cut: With your scissors, carefully cut through the entire length of the steek, following the cutting line. Take your time and make sure you’re cutting only through the reinforcement stitches and not the actual knitting stitches.
  5. Check for any loose ends: Once the steek has been cut, take a close look at the edges to make sure there are no loose ends or yarn strands hanging out.

That’s it! You’ve successfully cut your steek and transformed your knitting into a new shape. Now you can continue with any finishing touches your project requires, such as sewing down the steek edges or adding a button band.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to steeking. Don’t worry if your first attempt isn’t perfect – with each project, you’ll gain more confidence and skill. Happy knitting!


What is steeking in knitting?

Steeking in knitting is a technique used to cut openings in a knitted fabric, usually for creating armholes, necklines, or cardigan fronts. It involves securing the edges of the knitted fabric with reinforcement stitches, cutting through the middle, and then finishing the raw edges to prevent unraveling.

Can you steek any knitting project?

Not every knitting project can be steeked. Steeking works best with certain types of yarn and stitch patterns, such as stranded colorwork or fair isle. It is also important to check if your knitting yarn is steek-friendly and will not unravel easily when cut.

What materials do I need for steeking?

For steeking, you will need sharp scissors, a sewing machine or a needle and thread for reinforcing the edges, and some yarn for securing the steek stitches. You may also want to have some waste yarn on hand for holding stitches, in case you need to pick them up after cutting.

How do you reinforce the edges before cutting?

There are a few ways to reinforce the edges before cutting. One popular method is to sew a line of machine stitches along both sides of the steek, using a straight stitch or a narrow zigzag stitch. Alternatively, you can use a needle and thread to sew a line of running stitches on each side of the steek, making sure to catch the edge stitches.

Is steeking difficult for beginners?

Steeking can be a more advanced technique and may not be suitable for absolute beginners. It requires confidence in cutting your knitting and some sewing skills for reinforcing the edges. However, with practice and proper guidance, beginners can learn to steek successfully.

How do you finish the raw edges after cutting?

After cutting, you can finish the raw edges of the steek by either sewing them down with a sewing machine or by using a crochet hook to create a slip stitch or a single crochet around the edge. This helps to secure the edges and prevent unraveling.


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