Rhinebeck Sweater 2018- May the Steek Be With Me

Posted by Julia Wardell on

I sometimes wonder if people already have their sweater planned for the next year as soon as they walk out of the gates of Sheep & Wool. Personally, I tend to have a general idea of what I would like to have the following year. But there always so many awesome patterns released all the time that it's hard to stick with one decision. And I think everyone stresses about their Rhinebeck Sweater because that is the event I think in which the item you plan to wear not only shows off your yarn skills but you as well. Its a fashion show, plain and simple.

A lot of us knitters are in colorwork mode, myself included. But you know me.... why not add a little more heat to the fire. The reasonable thing to do would be to try and master the technique before making it even more complicated. But honestly, what fun is that!? I had already completed two colorwork projects...and I was mildly successful at that. So why not throw some steeking into the mix. I mean... it's not like anything could go wrong. Right?

First things first... I need to find the perfect sweater. Now most sweaters that involve steeking are worked from the bottom up. I despise knitting sweaters from the bottom up. I will only do it if it's a sweater I absolutely without a doubt need to have. Plus, I feel like it is harder to get the fit right when they are knit that way. And trying to find a yolk sweater, that steeks, and is top down was a challenge. My search yielded 87 results.

It was a toss up between Pinion and Rock the Lobster. And as much as I like a good feather motif Rock the Lobster won. Mainly because I saw that I could alter that pattern in a way that would suit me and I also liked that it came with detailed instructions about steeking. The author does offer a lot of good reference materials, links, and images about steeking and the colorwork process. And I did look at all of the materials and links in the pattern. But my Lupus brain got the best of me and I quickly forgot most of it.

I also spent some time altering the colorwork chart by adding in some skulls and a bat. I knew the skull needed to be in there right away but finding a good bat chart was hard. I searched for Halloween colorwork patterns and found that there is very little out there. This is something that I think really needs to be addressed and I will work on fixing that later.

Feeling confident in my changes and that this was indeed my Rhinebeck Sweater, I cast on.

However, I was a little weary of the actual steeking stitches. I had asked a few of my friends if they used 8 stitches to cover that area and most of them replied with 7. They said that they cut down the center of the middle stitch which totally makes sense. But the author of this pattern has you cutting down between the two center stitches. And having more stitches on either side of the cut made me feel a little more secure, so I continued on. Having it purl in the center to me seemed logical and visually it looks like those pieces will curve nicely under once they are cut. But when it came time to begin working on the yolk, I was concerned once again. 

The author mentions continuing to work in the steek stitch pattern but that you work those stitches first in one color and then the second half way through the chart. And I personally felt like that was a long way to carry a float. Because the whole point of the steek area is to have both colors caught so that it doesn't unravel when you cut it.  So I went back to Ravelry and looked through other peoples projects to see what they had done. Unfortunately, I was not able to find what I was looking for. And I totally felt like my lack of experience in this are would get the better of me. Side note- This is one of the reasons why with most of my projects I leave detailed notes and lots of pictures. 

I decided that I would switch it up and use the black in the center of the steek and continue on in the gray.

However, the more and more I knit, the more and more I felt that this was wrong. And I turned to Instagram and my friends for help. Even thought I had added the black the gray was still floating behind that. And then I thought that they gray was not being caught enough. I know in the pattern she says to use a sewing machine to secure the edges before cutting but I had no intention of using that method. And even then I still wanted to make sure that the yarn would not slip out. I am using a SW Merino/ Nylon Blend so the yarn is "slick" and not likely to felt. If I did all that work and then cut it, only to watch it unravel, I think my knitting spirit would be crushed beyond repair.

I tried to do some research on the internet and look at some images to see what others had done with various steeking projects. And in the end I decided to frog back all 6 rows and make it into a checker board pattern. This task put my skills to the ultimate test. For two hours I cried and pushed through. At one point I was even tempted to just frog the whole thing and start over. But I persevered and I'm glad I did

I think this will be much better. And no, I did not go all the way back because that would have been total insanity. I may be crazy... but I'm not that crazy. 


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