I recently went to the local library and inevitably found myself looking at knitting books, something I don't really do often. I don't own a whole lot of knitting books because they are either full of horribly tacky patterns or are "Knitting for Beginners" kinds of resources. However, our little rural Kansas library did have Color by Kristen by Kristen Nicholas, which I immediately checked out.
After flipping through this book, I was so inspired by her fair isle designs that I almost overcame my ongoing fear of all things colorwork. The author isn't the best at tutorials, but she has such a fantastic color aesthetic that I really identify with. She also has some really attractive patterns and gives loads of suggestions for making your own designs, which to me makes this book well worth buying.
She is also a huge advocate for knitting all colorwork in the round and frequently uses steeks, a technique I was not very familiar with. I quickly decided to knit up a swatch (which she is also fond of) using one of her designs with the intention of steeking.
Because I didn't have a sewing machine handy, I actually somehow remembered how to crochet long enough to secure the steek by single crocheting the edges. This is actually the first time I have ever used crochet for something useful (hooray!):
Here I am cutting my fancy steek. I was terrified at this point, I swear:
Here is the finished swatch where you can see the pretty pattern (please excuse the colors, they were the only acrylic options I had):
The steek looks great and seems to be holding very well. This certainly has made me more confident in my colorwork ability and should make it easier for me to meet my Fiber Goal for 2012 of Complete a Colorwork Sweater. Also, for one of my most recent projects I have been thinking about putting in a zipper, which basically requires a steek.
Learning new techniques can be challenging, but it can really pay off! Have you learned any new techniques recently?