When knitting a garment, knitters can choose among several construction methods:
making several flat pieces that will be seamed together, knitting seamlessly in the round, or a combination of these two options.
Many knitters prefer to work stranded projects in the round.
For some, particularly for Continental-style knitters, the knit stitch is quicker and easier to do than the purl stitch, and when working in the round, every stitch of every round of stockinette is knitted.
Also, it’s easier—and more interesting—to watch a color pattern develop on the right side of the fabric. Plus, many knitters find it’s simpler to follow a chart when reading every round in the same right to- left direction. Knitting in the round creates tubes of fabric.
However, a knitted cylinder does not allow for openings in a garment, such as for the front of a cardigan, a neck opening, or an armhole. The knitter either has to switch from circular knitting to flat knitting, possibly changing the gauge, or knit the garment in the round and cut the fabric to create openings.
To do this, you’ll need to cast on and knit extra stitches, called steeks, into the fabric. If the thought of taking a pair of scissors to your knitting makes you cringe in horror, never fear. Incorporating steeks into a garment where an opening will be needed ensures that your precious stitches stay put.
For extra security, some form of reinforcement, such as crochet stitches or machine sewing, is often used to stabilize the edges of a steek before cutting. (If certain wool yarns are used, such as Shetland, the tiny fibbers of the yarn tend to stick to themselves, making ravelling unlikely—and reinforcement unnecessary.
Most knitters, however, want the security of some sort of stabilization.)