Well, towel aside...The Burr:
The first thing to understand about a burr is that it's NOT on the side you just sharpened. The second thing is that burrs are an inevitable part of the sharpening process. You can't sharpen without creating burrs.
You can -- on the other hand -- sharpen in such a way that the burrs are dissolved as part of the same sharpening process which created them -- but it's extremely unlikely you're using the techniques which do that. If you're using full length of the knife strokes as your initial technique, STOP. DON'T. Use the short back and forth strokes Mark and Jon Broida show on their videos.
You don't need to use a microfiber or paper towel (although you certainly can), burrs are easy to detect by feel.
While there are other ways, here are the two easiest:
When you think you've sharpened the left side of the knife enough to raise a burr, either
- Hold the knife edge up with your right hand and push your left thumb pad or left thumb fingernail (if it's long enough), CAREFULLY up towards the edge on the right side of the knife. If there's a burr, you'll feel it as a hook; or
- Hold the knife edge up in your left hand and thumb drag the edge with your right hand, feeling for sharpness. If the right side edge feels more sharper or more "aggressive" than the left side edge, you've got a burr.
You may want to check yourself using the towel trick just to gain some confidence that you're actually feeling or not feeling what you ought.
Don't stop sharpening the first side of the knife until you've got an even burr along its entire length
Keep feeling, and keep looking. Continue to refresh the ink from your marker so you can continue to see that you are (a) sharpening all the way down to the edge along the length of the knife; (b) the bevel width is even along the length of the knife -- up to the tip where it starts to widen; and (c) that the bevel width is actually increasing.
Use what you learn by feeling to work on spots where a burr hasn't formed. Use what you learn by looking at the inked knife to address any high or low spots.
When you've established a good bevel and burr, then and only then, flip the knife over and begin sharpening the other side.
Don't be in a hurry. What takes me seven minutes will likely take you forty-five. In not too long, it will take you ten.
Yes, you must "chase the burr" by flipping the knife every time you've pushed it to the other side until it flips very easily with very few passes and very light pressure -- before moving on to the next stone. Once you've flipped it three or four times, you might want to switch to your steel (quick passes, gentle passes, alternating sides, five passes per side is enough), to save time and ensure that burr fatigues along the line where it should break off. You might as well deburr completely after every stone for now. You can use the practice. BEAR IN MIND: The actual, fresh metal edge you desire ONLY results from deburring
There are a LOT of good reasons to strop. Let's hold of talking about them until you can create a good, finished edge with your Bester/Rika combination.
PS. Time to stop parallel posting sharpening questions in Chef Talk. There are a few good guys there, but there's a high likelihood that good advice will be mixed with some real off the wall suggestions. You'll get much better sharpening information here.