I’d like to nominate Gretchen Funk for a Pulitzer for Knitting Journalism, because she talked me into doing a needle-felted steek.
(Anybody who hasn’t read her tutorial on this technique, please see her MDK post “How to Make a Needle-Felted Steek” here. It is deliciously mind blowing.)
So. Back in December, when life was a downy pillow of ease and relaxation (HA!), I finished knitting up my Kaffe Fassett Stranded Stripe Blanket.
It ranks right up there with the most addicting projects I’ve ever made. It was pure delight, start to finish. I used the charts from Field Guide No. 13: Master Class, a pile of Rowan Felted Tweed, and made up the blanket as I went.
Knitted in the round, it came together remarkably fast.
I look at it now and can’t believe I made it. What a frenzy!
It’s five feet long.
Throughout the knitting of this tube of joy, I pondered how I would work the steek—the cut through the extra stitches that turns the tube into a flat blanket.
That checkerboard of five stitches is the steek, AKA the DOTTED Line. It’s where you cut.
I’ve done my share of steeks, and my initial plan was to backstitch the steek, then cut it, then whipstitch it down, then commence knitting the border.
But then, the post from Gretchen Funk showed up. A needle-felted steek? No backstitch, crochet, or machine sewing? CRAZY!
When I read it, it was clear that Gretchen was describing something that I absolutely had to try.
Love Your Gear
I immediately ordered up a Clover Needle Felter Poking Doohickey and the Clover Felting Pad/Hairbrush Contraption that goes with it.
Whoever thought this stuff up? #awesome
The Stabber has a safety lock and a protective plastic tube, but it’s still a daunting set of five thin needles with barbs to catch fibers and potentially your thumb. You press the Clover Stabmaster into a piece of knitting, and the needles spring out. Yikes!
The bristly felting pad/bathtub scrubbie has bristles a bit longer than the felting needles. It allows one to poke with abandon, without damaging the points of the needles.
I dug up a swatch of wool, practiced my stabbing skills, snipped it apart, and found that yes, it’s true: you can felt a steek to the point that it will hold up without backstitching, crocheting, machine sewing, or any of the ordinary means of securing the stitches.
What Happened Next
The stabby joy of felting up a five-foot steek cannot be overstated.
The scene inside the tube: murky.
I put the Hairbrush of Felting Landing Pad underneath my steek, unlocked the five dangerous needles, and let fly.
I took revenge on every stitch of this blanket.
I worried of course that I was doing it wrong and that the entire blanket would unravel.
“It’s hard to overdo,” I read. So I did about 30 stabs per inch, as per Gretchen Funk’s recommendation, chugging up and down the length of the Hairbrush Felting Gizmo.
After a bout of stabbing, I checked the backside to make sure it was properly superfuzzy: check! I then moved the Hairbrush Landing Dealie to the next section of steek.
This took not that long, really—I was in such a zone.
To turn the tube into a blanket, you cut open the tube along the newly felted steek.
Be sure to insert a copy of The New Yorker underneath the layer you’re cutting so that you don’t accidentally cut through the far side of the tube, which would be the sort of disaster that I don’t think anybody could get over.
The front side of the felted steek doesn’t look that different from the unfelted stitches—it’s on the back side that you see how the fibers have mingled.
I wonder what New Yorker article that is back there. Could it be referring to Fever Tree tonic water?
It instantly wanted to curl—“I’m free!”—which is why the edging to come is so important. It will pull the stockinette out of its curl and flatten the whole thing.
Kermit recognized the blanketyness of what had just happened and tucked right in.
Next up: Time to secure the felted steek and get on with the knitting of the edging.
If anybody’s looking for an exhilarating thing to do, this would be an option.