Switching Burners

Over three years ago, when we moved to Ambridge, Mom and I started matching fair isle sweaters. The idea was that it would be a big long project that we could work on together to keep us connected across state lines. Then she joined me in Osborn Fiber Studio, which took up most of our large-project brain-space, and The Sweater kept getting pushed back further and further on the proverbial set of burners. We both managed to get nearly through the body in the course of three years, though. But with OFS somewhat subdued at the moment, between various life issues and events, some room has cleared on the front burners. I decided that we should cut our steeks together when we were ready to pick it up again, so Mom brought her sweater up when she came to visit during my June term, and I dragged mine out of the drawer that it had been taking up.


My body was closer to finished than I thought; I just had to do the “back neck shaping” section in all its confusing-ness. And I had kept losing my copy of the pattern, so this time I scanned it into the computer thank you very much. It took me all of one evening to do the back neck shaping once I figured it out, then all that remained was to graft the shoulder seams together.

Mom quickly realized she had some catching up to do, since she was just above the armholes. So she spent much of two weeks on my couch looking like this:


It was a lot to do, between helping me with the baby, cleaning my house (!) and shuttling Bethany back and forth to the city every day for the second week. She didn’t quite finish before it was time to leave, but we couldn’t bear to put it away in case it found itself falling to the back of the queue again. So we decided to steek by skype!


Now, I have cut a few steeks in my time, and I know the idea behind it. With the extremely wooly wool I’m using (Jameson & Smith 2 ply), I didn’t even sew beforehand, because there’s no way this stuff is going anywhere on its own.


Still, it gives me a little palpitation every time I take scissors and cut into my knitting. How could it not? Knitting is made of one (or in this case, two) continuous thread(s). That’s one of the things that makes knitting eminently fixable – you can always go back. But like sewing, with steeking there is no going back.



It’s hard not to hyperventilate looking at this gaping wound in a sweater, no matter how secure it is. The feeling of “Oh dear God what did I just DO” can only be shaken with a stiff drink and some good tacking-down. Secure as my steek was, I sewed it in place with some invisible running stitch in a background color. It sure made me feel better.



We picked up for the sleeve next, which Mom took a picture of and I did not. The way the directions work, Alice Starmore seemed clearly to be telling us to pick up nearly every stitch. This goes against my every nerve, so I decided to go my own way, rebellious rogue that I am, and pick up closer to 3 for every 4 stitches. We’ll see how it goes with this sleeve, between that funky little instruction, and Alice’s unceremonious statement to “turn the main chart upside down and start on row 8.” Did she specify whether it was the original row 8 or the new, upside-down row 8? No. Maybe I’ll do eenie meenie miney mo.


3 thoughts on “Switching Burners

  1. My camera chord is not working so I haven’t been able to send pictures yet…..but I am working on the sleeve- one strip per day. It’s now 11″ long. I can’t wait to start the pretty 6″ border. In the pattern, the sleeves are 3/4 length, but I’m going to make mine full length.


  2. Go you!! I thought that might happen. :-p I had to do my first round like three times, and then rip out a couple of rows a few rows in, so I only have 3 rows done!! But I don’t have a lot of knitting time for that sort of thing right now. But now that June’s socks are done, I’m ready to focus on The Sweater… at least while we are reading harry potter or watching movies. 🙂


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