Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cutting Up Your Knitting

A few weeks ago, I was knitting what I thought was a tiny pair of pants. I was using the wonderful Elizabeth Zimmermann's pattern/method, which more or less starts by saying "Cast on enough stitches and start knitting." This is not as crazy as it sounds, because if you knit a swatch, and measure how many stitches per inch you are running (This varies depending on how tightly you knit, and the size of your yarn and needles.), and if you know how many inches wide you want your knitting to be, then you just multiply stitches times inches and that's how many you cast on. Accuracy is key.

Unfortunately accuracy is not always my strong point. (Clearly.)

I wanted these pants to be 0-3 months size, and the more I knit, the more that seemed unlikely. They were looking much more like 6-9 months or even 12 months. By the time I realized this, I had knit enough that I really really didn't want to rip it out and start over.

So I made a steek.

A steek is a crazy crazy thing where you cut your knitting and somehow everything works out. It's a technique most commonly used in two-color Norwegian sweaters to make cardigans and armholes and it can be re-purposed to make a piece knitting smaller.

The first thing that you do is sew a line of machine stitching just inside where you are going to put your seam in the knitting to make it smaller. I used very small stitches and went over it twice.

Can you see the lines? Unfortunately I used tan thread on gray knitting, which was a poor choice from a blogging standpoint.

You can see it slightly better on the wrong side.

Then you cut (yes, cut, as in, with scissors) in between the lines you've sewn, and then you sew the edges together with a darning needle and a piece of yarn, using mattress stitch.

Look how you can't see the seam at all! 

If I was knitting these pants for an older child who was going to wear them for a long time and who would be walking and crawling around in them, I would have knit a little rectangle and sewn it on to cover the raw edges. But these are for a baby and probably the most athletic thing he'll be doing in them is trying to touch his toes. I'm confident this seam will hold up well and that the machine stitches will keep the edges from fraying further. It's nice and soft for his little skin and doesn't add bulk the way covering the seam would.

Here's a little sneak peek of what they'll look like. More pictures coming soon! 

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