Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2019: Get ready to steekalong!

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2019: Get ready to steekalong!

Last year when I was teasing you all about the next Fringe and Friends Knitalong (“fafkal” as they’ve come to be known), I no doubt planted the seed in some of your minds that it would be about steeking. Which was true at the time! But it got pushed back a year, for various reasons (making way for the Logalong), so I’m just that much more excited to let you in on the secret today, which is that yes, next up will be the Fringe and Friends Steekalong! My partner in crime this time will be my pal Mary Jane Mucklestone, a colorwork legend in our own time, and the featured pattern will be her exquisite Sólbein Cardigan, which I’ve been dying to knit since first laying eyes on it on the dock at Squam last year. It’s among the most beautiful uses of colorwork I’ve ever seen, with that fluttery featheriness that comes from the tonal stranding, plus I’m so excited to knit my first steeked garment along with all of you and Mary Jane.

Sólbein originally appeared in the Lines issue of Making and is now available for individual download, if you don’t have the magazine.


For anyone new to the term, steeking is cutting your knitting. Most people prefer to do colorwork only in the round, but that would rule out anything that’s not a tube. So for instance, to get a cardigan you knit a seamless pullover with a couple of extra stitches up the front where the opening should be. And when the pullover is done, you cut straight up through those stitches to create the opening, then add your button band or other edging. I KNOW! I’ve only ever done it on a swatch, but it’s going to be thrilling.


Sólbein is one of Mary Jane’s brilliant instances of knitting Léttlopi at a looser than traditional gauge — lopi being a yarn with an unparalleled character and halo that magically fluffs to fill — which means it knits up quickly and creates a fabric that is light as air and also not quite as warm as a typical Icelandic lopapeysa. You can read more about lopi yarn here, but it comes in an incredible array of colors (find it online at Tolt, Fancy Tiger and others, if your local doesn’t stock it) and is quite affordable.

What makes the Sólbein colorwork so effective is the use of tonal colors, so to preserve that you want to choose light, medium and dark shades all in the same family. If you decide to go with three totally different colors, you’ll get a completely different effect, which could be differently stunning. Have some fun with the swatching for this!

[UPDATE: I put together 11 possible color combos for you to consider!]

If you are thinking of substituting yarn, take that into account about the gauge — most aran-weight yarns will not knit up so nicely (especially with colorwork) on larger needles, so you would want to substitute a bulky yarn, and make sure you’re using one suitable for steeking. It needs to be yarn with grip, definitely not anything slippery smooth or superwash.

Technically, you may knit any steeked garment you like for the kal, and we’ll also talk about how to add a steek to a pullover to make it a cardigan. But I hope you’ll knit the gorgeous Sólbein with us! Just look at the excitement on Mary Jane’s face!

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2019: Get ready to steekalong!

OK, she always look like that. ;)


Like the last one, I’ve decided to save this to enjoy during selfish-knitting season, after the holidays, which means you have from now until the end of the year to dream, swatch, and think about any modifications you might make. And we’ll cast on January 1st.

That’s also when I’ll announce the rest of the panel, but obviously MJM is on it!


To knit along simply use the hashtag on Instagram or wherever you post: #fringeandfriendssteekalong. By all means, please share your swatching and planning between now and then, but try to refrain from casting on until the official start date. And meanwhile, make sure you’re following @mjmucklestone on Instagram!

Are you excited?


PREVIOUSLY in Knitalongs: Fringe Marlisle Knitalong

Top photos by Carrie Bostick Hoge, used with permission

71 thoughts on “Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2019: Get ready to steekalong!

  1. I can’t believe it! I was planning to make steering a goal for 2019, so this is perfect! Never did it before and I’m terrified. But I love this cardigan and it will be great to steel with some hand holding.

  2. I have been wanting to knit this cardigan and I am excited about it. Not sure which will be hardest, choosing colours or waiting until January. Thanks for hosting!

  3. Should proofreadbefore posting. Of course I mean steeking, even though autocorrect was sure I meant steering.

  4. Ooh I don’t know if I’ll knit this sweet sweater but the KAL would give me the opportunity to continue my Marlisle knitting and attempt Anna Maltz’s Ess Shawl, which features a steek.

  5. Ohhh, I’m in on this one! And already know what colours! I only wear blacks, charcoals, greys, winter-whites and, with all my sweater-knitting, have not knit a charcoal sweater. It is going to be very difficult to NOT cast on, especially when I have No. 4 Lines on my bookshelf!

  6. What a great pattern to learn on. I made her Stopover 3 times and at size 10 needles it knits up fast.

  7. IF I commit to this one, Kelene Kinnersly’s “Unchained Melody” is the steeked cardi I’ve had my eye on. I did not have much luck in finishing KALs by their deadlines this year, so maybe I’ll chicken out and unofficially steek along while following along with what everyone else is doing. On the other hand, it’s an entire year to work on and complete one sweater…

  8. I’m excited to join this. The sweater is beautiful! I have the “Lines” issue of “making” but was wondering if it’s possible to download just this patterns in PDF or do I have to buy the pattern again?

  9. This is weird! Last week, I went to a thrift and there was a strange yarn… feel it is 100% wool but I was just not knowing if I should spin it or just knit it. I found 8 big oval skein (almost a pie) of the most beautiful greyish brown (more brown than grey). Then, yesterday, I went to another store and I found 6 more of those skeins… one in the same greyish brown, 1 steel grey and 3 that are a mix of white and a greyish brown but more grey than brown. I was just passing through my patterns to find one that would be good with this yarn when I saw your email. Now… I have a big problem. Even though I am knitting since I am 3 years old, I really “hate” knitting fair isle… I don’t know why, it is a style that I personnally don’t like for myself… even though I really admire the chef-d’œuvres of many of my knitters friends so… I don’t know about this kal… have to think about it but, as I see, the pattern is not too busy… should be ok…

    • It is a really nice subtle motif if you do it tonally like she’s shown it. I’m not sure if Plutolopi would willingly knit up at the same gauge — you might need to hold it double or triple? I’ve not knitted with it, so can’t say for sure, but MJM might have advice on that.

  10. Oh I’ve really been wanting to make this.

    I hope that it will be feasible to host some of the KAL conversation and info over here in addition to Instagram. I understand the appeal of insta for such things, but lately it feels like there’s more content over there.

    • There are always lots of blog posts and discussions here on the blog, and definitely will be again! But for people sharing their own WIPs along the way, and talking to each other about it, IG is the best tool for that. So it’s a mix. And I do also always highlight a lot of great stuff here from there, so you’ll get to see that even if you’re not on IG.

  11. I’m fearful that yhe lopi yarn is too itchy? Is the plotulopi less itchy and could that be used? Anyone familiar with this problem?

    • It’s all itchy. But worn I’ve a t-shirt it’s comfortable. And the loose guage makes it light and warm. So it becomes very very comfortable.

    • All of the lopi yarn is made from Icelandic wool, just spun differently at different gauges — I believe! Have you felt it before? The fabric is totally different from any other wool, and of course one person’s itchy is another person’s soft, so it’s hard to say how it might feel to you. I am sensitive on the back of my neck but can wear lopi quite comfortably as long as, like any wool, I’ve got something between it and the back of my neck.

  12. Oh, wow–I’ve been dying to try a Lopi-at-a-larger-gauge sweater for myself, and I do need a hearty black cardigan. But a question: it looks like this pattern requires a sewing machine to stabilize the steeks (makes sense, given the fabric/lack of stranded color work on much of the sweater). My concern: I don’t own a sewing machine (and haven’t used one for about 25 years). Does anyone know if it is possible to hand-sew steeks for fabric like this–or use a crocheted edge? Or do you need the interlocking stitches of a sewing machine?

    • Steeking is one of those things that can be done a variety of ways, and the sewing machine approach just happens to be the one described in this pattern. We’ll talk here on the blog about other methods, which you can definitely choose.

  13. Working on a Knitters Dude for my son that requires a monumental steek. I’m out ahead of you on learning this technique—need this done by Christmas!

  14. I’m in! I purchased Plotulopi (Unspun Lopi Worsted) about 1.5 years ago while visiting Iceland and this sweater is so beautiful and perfect for it.

  15. Oh wow! So I have the pattern, I have great yarn that could work, I only need to find the courage to cut through beautiful yarn. Not sure yet, thank you for giving us enough notice to think it over. I still have to finish my Log Cabin blanket, incidentally. On track to complete before the end of the year.

  16. My first knit along, my first for me sweater and first steek. So yeah I am a little nervous but excited also to be in good company. Also helps that Lopi is not very expensive. Got my yarn from Dearamores on line for a total cost of $39.31.

  17. Wow how thrilling! Any chance there’s also a tutorial for adding a steek to a cardi pattern written flat?

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  19. I’m really quite taken with this idea, as I have never steeked, but am also wondering about knitting a Carbeth instead of colorwork, but using LettLopi instead of the heavier yarns, as the two sweaters have the same gauge. Wondering if that hasn’t been done, because it would be a bad idea, or if it is just peculiar, or if it might be genius??

    • Changed my mind, decided to go with Sólbein after all, and already picked out my three colors and ordered the yarn… Ocean Blue 9419, Fjord Blue 1701, and Air Blue 1700

  20. I’ve already made this wonderful sweater and get compliments every time I wear it. The only tricky part for me was the short section where I had to carry three colors, and, getting used to the lettlopi yarn which I wasn’t sure I’d like but now love. At the gauge for this sweater it’s feather light and has a silky look to it; softens after washing. (I’m cartwrin on Ravelry if you want to see it.) However, I’ve had Andrea Rangel’s Woolen Explorer cardigan in my queue for awhile and it takes lettlopi yarn so maybe…(I have other sweaters in my queue I’d like to get knitted this winter but I do love knitalong’s).

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  22. I am so into trying this. Never steered or knit a sweater for myself. Have yarn I purchased while in Iceland. Will buy pattern and try to swatch. Never do that either.

  23. Years (and years) ago after I knit my first lopi sweater, I decided to make a second one for my mom — I used another yarn (Brown sheep bulky, I think). Mistake. The new sweater was SO heavy (I mean this quite literally – it weighed a LOT). And way to warm, at least for her, with the stranding. It’s always knitter’s choice, but I highly recommend the suggested yarn type for this sweater.

  24. I’ve never done a knit a long. Do you give us a timeline, e.g. by the end of the week finish the sleeve, that sort of thing? Thank you.

    • Everyone knits at their own pace. There will be a completion window when the related content portion will come to a close, but there’s no step-by-step schedule or anything. Just fun knitting!

  25. This is beautiful! I’ve been meaning to knit a colorwork yoke and try my hand at steeking, so this is perfect timing. The only question is what colors… Part of me wants to be extra lame and just go for the original oatmeal heather combo. I always feel a little weird copying the same color scheme as the sample, but those oatmeals are so rich and cozy looking!

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  29. Wonderful !!! I bought the pattern yesterday and order my yarn this morning … the choice for the colours was not so easy !!! I can’ t wait to start …. Thank you so much for this wonderful adventure !!!

  30. Yarn purchased- from two different online sources, and decisions still to be made. It’s so hard to tell from the online pictures how exactly the colors will work together. Shipping is still less expenses then venturing out for hours and paying the Golden Gate Bridge toll! It’s a good time to be a knitter.

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