Buttonhole Steeks

28 Sep

I feel like a fearless knitter today, I have steeked and conquered.  Remember my plans for the Tilted Duster?  I actually followed through and am thrilled with the results.

Ta-da!  Shawl collar Tilted Duster.  The collar of this cardigan was always too big and floppy for my taste, so I was pretty happy to have an excuse to update it.  I love how the collar now rolls daintily into a tidy shawl and I think the buttons look a treat against the Rowan Magpie.

Originally I had planned to make an “afterthought” buttonhole ala Elizabeth Zimmerman, until I realised that it only works horizontally on stocking stitch.  The hole I wanted to make would have to be made vertically, and I nearly gave up on the whole idea until I considered making a steeked buttonhole.  Now, for the uninitiated, a steek is typically used when you’re doing colorwork for a sweater.  You knit in the round a giant tube for the body, reinforce seams where the armholes will be, and cut your knitting. From there you’d pick up stitches around the armhole to make sleeves.

I had never done this before, but after a lot of research, I just went for it.

I did a crocheted steek on the reverse side of the collar, conveniently on the knit stitches.  Since these buttons are huge it’s about 7 stitches across.  Using the brown Cascade 220 I bought for Drive Thru you can barely make out the different yarn.  It was surprisingly simple and painless to do (after I stopped reading written instructions and just followed the diagrams).  I think for a traditional steek you wouldn’t use such a thick yarn, but it certainly feels very secure.  What I like most is how the steek rolls towards the reverse side, leaving the front very clean looking.

I’m not sure if this method is orthodox, and couldn’t vouch whether it would work for smaller buttons, but I was on a knitting high for hours afterwards.  I am not a very adventurous person so taking a pair of scissors to something handmade is a pretty big thrill.  I would definitely try a proper steeked garment now.

Just a note on the Tilted Duster, it’s been over two years since I knit this, and it’s definitely one of my most worn pieces.  The yarn is the (sadly) discontinued Rowan Magpie, which besides bobbling, has held up like a champ to a lot of wear and tear.  It was originally knit as a Rogue pullover, which I worn for a few years, before frogging and knitting up into this (yeah, I know I was a bit mad).  Changing the collar has altered the way this cardigan hangs, but it was never really all that elegant.  More of what I consider a “dressing gown” knit, something I throw on to keep warm, not for a night on the town.

I am so glad to have given her a new lease of life.


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