I've been knitting a fair isle afghan in the round, and once all the main knitting was done, the big long tube of awesomeness had to be cut open so it would be less of a muumuu and more of a blanket. Now, I've heard all sorts of people talk about how scary it is to cut steeks, and how they held their breath and prayed the whole time, and how some people are too scared to even attempt one. There are a multitude of methods for stabilizing the knitting before cutting so that the whole thing doesn't unravel if you look at it sideways. But when the steek is 6' long, hand sewing down both sides of the area to be cut just isn't going to happen, and shoving the thing through the sewing machine isn't a good idea, either. So, no stabilization for me, just a pair of scissors and a blanket I've been knitting (intermittently) since October of 2008...
...And all of my sock club friends from River Colors Studio, who I drafted to help me. We were all new to cutting steeks, and everyone seemed to have some insane idea that I was either super-brave, super-dumb, or super-well-informed-about-this-whole-thing. In order to dissuade them of all of these notions, I figured I'd involve them in the process. So I brought all my cutting materials in to the studio yesterday, and everyone got a chance to cut about 10" of my steek. We are steek virgins no more!
For future reference, what I did was this:
Lay the blanket flat with the steek area centered on the top. Slide a long rotary cutting ruler in between the top layer and the bottom layer of the blanket, making sure it covers all of the area under the steek. Use sharp scissors to cut through the center of the steek section, about 10" at a time. After every 10", stop and stabilize the edges by wrapping a strip of packing tape along each edge lengthwise. This will keep it relatively unfrayed while you cut the rest of the steek open. When you're done cutting the steek open, open out the blanket and admire your handiwork - then whisk the blanket to a sewing machine and machine-stitch down each side of the steek to stabilize the remaining threads. Make sure to sew in the area that will still remain once the excess steek area is trimmed off later in the finishing, if that's what your directions tell you to do.
Since then I've been picking up the stitches along each side of the steek to make a binding to cover up the cut edges, and let me tell you, picking up like 300 stitches SIDEWAYS down a blanket is all sorts of fun. Really. But it's looking awesome, and the end is in sight. Whew!
Pictures? You want pictures in the post? Nope, sorry, that's going to have to wait for a while. There are secret things afoot around here ...