Knitty: little purls of wisdom
letter from the editorfeatured articlesKnitty's fabulous pattern selectionarchive of back issuessee what others have made using Knitty patternstell us what you think of KnittyKnitty's favorite linkstake home something Knittyjoin the Knitty notifylistto find out how to support Knitty, click here!

my grandma's knitting needles. click me.the Knitty FAQ

submission guidelines for designers and writers
the obligatory legal statement
the rabbit

© Knitty 2002-3. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. This means you.


Knitty's favorites La bonne tricoteuseDiY knitterTechniques with T
This hand Yarn market Handspinning Swatch out! Steeks

By Wendy D Johnson

Norwegian Steeking Technique

Norwegian sweaters are traditionally knitted in the round. After knitting, the armholes are cut open and the sleeves [also knitted in the round, with a clever little self-facing] are sewn in.

This is not nearly as scary as it sounds and need not be a traumatic experience. Honest.

When you have finished knitting your sweater body and are casting off the shoulders, put a pin at the top of each side seam to help you find it later. Steam block the pieces and lay them out. Your pattern may tell you the armhole depth, but just use this as a guide. If your tension varies slightly, your armhole will need to be shallower or deeper. Measure the sleeve top right before the facing to get its height. Now use that measurement to mark the armhole depth on the body and put a pin at the point where the sleeve will end. Put another pin in the same spot on the other side.


Next, stitch the steek area on the body using a sewing machine. This is the area four stitches wide where you will cut open [gasp!] the armholes. Use regular sewing thread and a straight stitch with normal tension. I find it helpful to stitch the steeks with a thread color that's slightly different from the color of the sweater so you can see your stitching lines.
Starting at the top of the sweater, machine stitch down to just past your pin, turn and stitch a couple of stitches at a right angle, turn, and stitch and back up to the top. Repeat this process half a stitch out from the first line of stitching, so you have double stitching all the way around your armhole. Repeat this process on the other side for the other armhole.
Here is your stitched steek from the inside of the work...
...and from the outside.

Now comes the fun part: cutting!

With a sharp pair of scissors, carefully cut open your armhole in the center between the two rows of stitching. Stop cutting just before the turned stitching at the bottom. Be careful not to cut into the machine stitching.

Now might be a good time to pause for a celebratory margarita.

Assembling the sweater is easy. Sew your shoulder seams together.

Set in the sleeves by pinning the sleeve into the armhole, remembering that the facing goes to the inside, and sew the sleeve in, using your usual sewing method. Then sew down the facings invisibly on the inside.


Your steek is done! Your sleeves are in! You need never fear steeks again. I always steam the heck out of the facing and the seam at this point.

Now doesn't this make you want to knit all your sweaters in the round and steek 'em?


Wendy Johnson has been knitting for as long as she can remember.

You can learn more than you ever wanted to know about her knitting projects by visiting her knitting blog at

Pattern & images © 2003 Wendy D Johnson. Contact Wendy.