I had knit three “tubes:” the body of the jacket, and two sleeves. I would need to cut open the body tube to make the piece into a jacket, which is why I knit it with a front steek.
My first experience with steeking was with Fair Isle knitting using Shetland wool. Shetland wool is hairy and sticky enough so than when you cut it open, it does not unravel. The steeks stay put and over time will felt and become virtually indestructible.
I could tell right away that would not be the case for the yarn I had used for my jacket (Wollmeise Blend), as it is soft and smooth, so I would need to reinforce the steeks before I cut them. I opted to use the technique I used years ago when I was in my Dale of Norway Olympic sweater phase: reinforcing with lines of machine stitching using a sewing machine.
Although I had not used my sewing machine for a good ten years, it started right up, and after a quick look at the manual to remind me how to thread the machine, I was happily stitching my steeks.
I did two rows of stitching on either side of the center of each steek, clearly visible from the wrong side:
Once all steeks were stitched, I cut the wee steek I had created to shape the neck of the jacket, picked up stitches, and knit the neckband. In order to work it in the round, I employed yet another another steek to bridge the front opening!
A tip for picking up stitches for a neckband:
I did not have a pattern to tell me to pick up “x” number of stitches for the neckband, so I had to improvise. First, I divided the neck edge into equal sections, marked with pins. I folded it in half and placed a pin, then folded each half in half and placed a pin, etc. I like to do this so I have sections that are each no more than 3 or 4 inches long. Then I picked up the same number of stitches in each section, so that my stitches would be evenly spaced around. I looked at my stitch gauge for the jacket, and picked up slightly fewer stitches than that. For example: my stitch gauge was 6 stitches to the inch, so for each 3-inch portion of the neck edge I picked up 16 stitches. That way, the neckband pulls in ever so slightly, rather than being loose and floppy.
After working the edging pattern on the neckband, I did a purl turning row, cast off the steek stitches, and worked the facing in one color, back and forth, not in the round. Upon completion, I machine-stitched the tiny neckband steek, and cut it.
Next up, the front bands. I cut open the front steek, and picked up stitches along the front edges for the bands, including the front edges of the neckband. I used the same formula for picking up stitches as I did for the neckband: pick up slightly fewer than my stitch gauge warrants. I wanted to knit the bands in the round so I cast on a steek to connect the bands at the neck, and a steek to connect them at the hem, so I was essentially knitting one giant circle of front band goodness.
Many, many stitches later, I had the bands and their facings done. I reinforced and cut open the connecting steeks, trimmed them, and then steam-pressed the heck out of all bands to make them lie down neatly. After sewing the front band facings in place (thus hiding the cut edges of the steeks under the facing), I sewed a ribbon binding over the edge of the facing.
I found the pretty ribbon I used (vintage, made in France] on Etsy. Etsy is a great place to find ribbons, bindings, and other notions.
While I was knitting the jacket, I was thinking about what I wanted for fasteners. Buttons? Snaps? Toggles? I decided on frog fasteners and bought a set of brown frogs via Etsy, and sewed them on the jacket.
And then I promptly removed them.
I discovered that not only would they not stay fastened, but a couple of them fell apart immediately after I sewed them on. And to be honest, I really did not like the look of them on the jacket. I decided to use large magnetic snaps instead.
Once I had the body completely finished, the only thing left to do was to attach the sleeves. I had left the sleeves with live stitches at the top, temporarily strung on a length of yarn. I cut open my armhole steeks and picked up stitches all around the armhole to correspond to the number of live sleeve stitches I had, and attached the sleeves to the body with a three-needle bind-off.
And my jacket was done!
The Gift of Color