Steek Peek

For several years now, I have been saying that cutting a steek is the knitting technique I would really like to tackle. In that time, it went from being a sort of curiosity to becoming my knitting Mt. Everest. Every January when knitting-world began to talk about new year’s knitting resolutions, I would tell myself that this would be the year, I would be bold enough to slice up one of my precious sweaters. As I became increasingly drawn to colorwork knitting, the drive got even strong. But when I actually thought about taking scissors to my knitting, I shrank back every time.

Last spring I knit my Hela sweater – intended to be a short cardigan, but according to Ravelry projects, often kept as a pullover. And it looks good that way. So when I began knitting my version, I had a cardigan in mind, but told myself that it would still work as a pullover in case I chickened out. Which of course, I did.


As the weather got colder, I got a lot of wear out of Hela as a pullover, and I still loved it, but in the back of my mind, I knew I would like it more as a cardigan. Had I intended it to be a pullover, I would have knit it a size larger, and added more length to the body. In a nutshell, I could tell that this sweater wanted to be a  cardigan. So not long into January, I went home from work, pulled up Kate Davies’ steek tutorial, tried it out on a practice swatch, drank a little bourbon, and cut my favorite sweater in half.

Here are a few process photos that I took on my phone while I worked – pardon the poor image quality.




Do I get extra points for doing this with a cat on my lap?

Rather than a zipper, I knit vertical ribbed button bands, which I seamed onto the steeked edge. I ordered some black leather buttons online, but was so excited to wear this that I attached some large shell buttons while waiting for the mail to arrive, and I have been wearing this cardigan nonstop. Now that my permanent buttons are here, I’ll sew them on and take real photos of the finished product.

I’ve been fairly ambivalent about a lot of my knitting lately, and it’s really great to finish something that I love with no reservations. Especially as blizzards and freezing temperatures hit, I just couldn’t be happier that I did a scary thing (that now feels laughably un-scary) and turned a sweater I wasn’t crazy about into a sweater I know I will wear nearly daily.

Does everyone else have these certain knitting techniques that intimidate them? (The vast number of Hela pullovers as compared to cardigans suggests that the steek is a common fear.) It was my biggest one, to be sure. Now that I’ve done it, I don’t know why I was so nervous. I’m curious what other knitters are afraid to try.



  1. Elise says:

    I’ve always been afraid to try something like that but you made it sound almost easy! I’m sure I’ll have a go one day but…maybe not yet 😉

    1. Chelsea says:

      I never in a million years thought I would describe a steek as “easy,” but Kate Davies’ tutorial is so helpful and well written, it really made the process much less daunting. Now that I’ve done one, I’m actually really looking forward to doing another. I say go for it – maybe there should be an online steek-along for moral support!

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