Thursday, April 8, 2010


Running post today, as in: me, running to the TV sofa to finish the last few rows of the steeked piece of the Big Project. Yes!

No! I'm not done, but I'm getting close enough to want to get steeking out of the way. How close?

It's really coming along, isn't it. All last week I carted one piece or another with me wherever I went, knitting in the car with the chart proppy-uppy thing perched on my knees, knitting in the coffeeshop during a half hour gap between appointments, knitting in the kitchen while waiting for water to boil, you name it. And all those little bits added up.

Today features blocks of time that are perfect for the sweaty-palmed concentration I'll require to cut my first steek, and because the stars won't align in that way again until Sunday, I've decided to knit those last few rows of the body, then sew and cut open the steeks - maybe even baste them prettily shut and do some other finishing bits - before I go back to sleeve #2.

And I'm going to live blog the experience. If all goes well I'll start stitching around 10am my time, it being 7:40 right now - check back for updates if you like!

10:30 am update:

I am still knitting. Seriously, how can I misjudge my speed so badly? Two more rows to go (one of them a castoff, whoo hoooo!) and then I have to dash for a bit, so I'm going to do the steek this afternoon around 1pm my time. After that, I am totally meditating over this speed knitting technique.

1:10 pm

Okay, I'm sitting at my sewing machine. It's a beautiful old 1940s Singer, jet black with gold filigree trim and not one ounce of zizag stitch ability, which is apparently what you want for a steek. However, it does go backwards and forwards and you can adjust the stitch length, so I'm going to be hopeful. Usually my stitches are '8' long, unless I'm basting ('6') or really confident and sewing something that will see heavy use ('10'). So I'm going to try '15' and see how that goes.

I'm testing first on the swatch I made before I started on all this adventuring. Isn't Kathi clever for suggesting I put a steek into the swatch?

1:15 pm

Yep, '15' looks good. I can tell because I accidentally stitched over one of the tails and it's not slipping free. Thank goodness this is just the swatch. And now, scissors!!! Bwah ha ha ha ha.

1:20 pm

Wow, Kathi wasn't kidding about steeks being easy. I just snipped through the center stitch (being careful to spare that tail, which still isn't budging) and no matter how hard I pull all I can get loose are the halves of that one stitch down the middle.

Just in case though I'm glad I stitched two rows for each side of the cut - one down each side of the relevant stitch column. And now that I'm looking at it (sorry not to be able to post pictures but this is supposed to be Highly Confidential dontcha know) I'm thinking I should find some thread to match the yarn so the finishing is prettier. I'm going to think about this over some Easter chocolate I brought to the sewing machine in case of crisis. Back soon!

1:30 pm

Looks like I have one thread that looks nice with all the colours in the sweater, but I don't have enough for all the steek coverage plus the bobbin thread. I think I'll pretend plain white is best, specifically because it will show on the wrong side if you push apart the wool stitches that will hold it in place on the wrong side.

And now to give the piece one last going-over to make sure everything really is as it should be, because I'm pretty sure that running this '15' stitch is just as final as cutting.

1:40 pm

Yep, ready to go. This will take a while because there is a lot of territory to cover, but I'll be back before snipping.

1:50 pm

Mild panic (okay, heart-stopping panic) as I realized I got off course and stitched down either side of a section of the part I'm actually cutting. Then I realized - I'm cutting it! It's not like I got off course and stitched over something that will show. Whew. (and note to self: make sure not to stitch over something that will actually show.)

2:25 pm

Can you believe it took me that long to stitch steeks? Like I needed more justification for treating myself to a new machine... but that's another angst for another live blog.

So, just about 3/4 of the way through I realized I was treating the even-numbered steek stitches as though they are odds, with one column running down the middle and the machine stitching down either side of it. Not so! I should be snipping between two stitches, not through the middle of one. So I'm going to go find some more chocolate while I wait to hear back from Kathi whether this matters.

2:35 pm

... and apparently it doesn't matter, and I've now refueled with two cookies, so brace yourself, I'm cutting this sweater!

2:45 pm

Wow! It's cut and it's not unraveling a bit. and you know what is the most awesome part? Lying it out on the table with the wrong side up and admiring the expanse. You could wear this thing inside out and it would still be gorgeous.

Thanks for seeing me through this, folks! I've appreciated your company and wish I could stay, but I've gotta get back out into the rain for another errand before I can comfy back up with the one sleeve that remains to be knit. Hope you all have a wonderful rest of the day.


Kathleen Taylor said...

I'll be watching!

heklica said...

Wow! Almost done! I suppose I've missed the live broadcast :(

Kathleen Taylor said...

Be brave!!!!

heklica said...

cheering for you!

Kathleen Taylor said...

told ya so...

Kathleen Taylor said...

breathe deeply... a little panic is to be expected... you're doing fine

Kathleen Taylor said...

p.s. with this pattern, as long as you're cutting in the steek area, you can't be cutting in the wrong place (it's when you cut with no pre-knit steeks that it gets scary)

heklica said...

Knock, knock, are you there?

Mary Keenan said...

Oh Misha, you are so nice to stick with me through this - and you too Kathi!

Kathleen Taylor said...

it doesn't matter in the least- one stitch or one portion... think of a steek as a seam allowance. As long as the seam itself is in the right place, it doesn't matter if the seam allowance is a little narrower on one side than the other

Kathleen Taylor said...


And the hard part is done! The rest is assembly! I knew you could do it!

heklica said...

Well, to be honest, I thought you were going to give us a live video broadcast. Not that you mentioned the word 'video' but I guess I'd hoped to see the big project so much that I thought it was actually going to happen :) That's why at first I thought I'd missed the broadcast. And then once you started live (non-video) blogging, I couldn't leave you alone with that horrid thing called 'sewing machine', could I? :)

Mary Keenan said...

I know, it's killing me not to be able to show this project! I was thinking of posting photos of chocolate or the machine as I went along but I knew I wouldn't have time and anyway that's just a tease, isn't it. Kathi's book comes out next spring, I think... I'll be posting a ton of pictures then ;^)

Anonymous said...

I was gone all day yesterday, so I missed this as it happened. However, reading it made me so nervous! I can't wait to see the finished project when it's no longer Highly Confidential.