Let's Steek: Casting On!
WELCOME BACK! Let’s cast on! I was (in typical me fashion) super pumped to GET TO THE COLORWORK, so there aren't great photos here. WHOOPS.
Pullover sweaters call for you to cast on stitches for the neck (or hem, if it’s a bottom-up sweater) and join in the round. I knit the ribbing flat before adding our steek. It makes things less bulky later on and also makes picking up button band stitches easier and neater.
I want 1” of ribbing at the neck. I’m going to work it as:
RS: K1 (K1, P1) to last stitch, K1
WS: (P1, K1) to last two stitches, P2
Keeping the edge stitches as stockinette helps with picking up the button band later (picking up purl bumps sucks).
Once that is done, I’ll cast on 5 stitches for the steek (using the backwards loop cast on) and then join in the round, knit one round, and then work the increase row (in the pattern).
It’s also a good time to talk about working the steek. The steek stitches are liminal space—they don’t count toward your stitch count. I place one maker on either side of the steek. The first one is end of round, the second is beginning of round.
Here is a truly awful picture of what I’m talking about. The steek is between the moth stitch markers, and I'm about to join in the round.
The steek is worked as P1, K3, P1. The two purl columns allow the steek to neatly fold over once it’s cut and help you pick up button bands later on.
A note on yarn management—as a rule, you want to avoid long floats in the middle of your steek. The traditional way to avoid this is to alternate 2 colors, so you’ll end up with what looks like a 1x1 checkerboard pattern over the three knit stitches. I’ve done some creative carrying of colors so I don’t have as many ends, but this can get a little complicated. I've opted to break yarn between colors after I work the steek and weave the ends in as I go using this method. I don't love this method for superwash yarn (it can slip out), and even with this rustic stuff I'll go back and weave them in a little more securely at the ends when I'm done with the sweater.
And that’s basically the last time you worry about the steek it until you finish the body. It becomes second nature to work the steek and you almost forget it’s there (except it looks kind of weird and pixelated). Oh! Another benefit to cardiganing is that you don’t get the jog that can happen when you knit in the round (especially with stripes and colorwork patterns). WIN WIN.
I’ll see you next time for short row shaping and the yoke!