A Good Steek

Just looking at the photo makes me wince!

Just looking at the photo makes me wince!

Oh I love a day without scheduled appointments. I can rise early, grab my current book and stay in bed until I finish.  Radar’s impatience to go on his walk peaked with the final essay in The Yarn Whisperer by Clara Parkes.  The fall issue of Interweave Knits had a feature story on Clara and her new book, so I broke my “no hardback rule” so I could read it now and pass it on to a friend.  She also has a blog: claraswindow.blogspot.com and a newsletter Knitter’s Review.

I liked her essays right away, and she hooked me snugly when I read “A Good Steek.”  To steek yarn takes courage as it requires you to do everything your knitter heart says to never do. Wikipedia describes a steek as: In knitting, steeking is a shortcut used to knit garments such as sweaters in the round without interruption for openings or sleeves until the end. After completing a tube, a straight line is cut along the center of a column of stitches, in order to make room for an opening or place to attach another piece. The steek itself is a bridge of extra stitches, in which the cut is made, and is usually 6-10 stitches wide. (I object to the word “shortcut” in this context.)

In her essay, Clara Parkes uses the steek as a metaphor for a life redesign. Voila! I have discovered a kindred spirit.  She left her life in San Francisco and moved to Maine to live a life steeped in yarn. As she says, “Steeks represent a necessary part of life, almost a coming-of-age of fabric. As roses need pruning and seedlings need thinning, steeks require cutting if your fabric has any hope to grow into something else.”

In knitting I have never had the courage to attempt a steek. It is commonly used in Norwegian and Fair Isle knitting and next year I will knit a trad Norwegian sweater. However, I will not attempt the steek without an experienced knitter standing alongside me.  Meanwhile I sense that my own redesign is nearing its final stages.

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