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Incredible I-Cord

Jun 17, 2013

    
The Loop Pullover by AnnaLena Mattison
Some things in knitting are complicated, and some things are easy. And some things are easy and look complicated. I-cord is one of those things. It's simple to work, but it adds so much to a knitted object. It's a knitting technique that all knitters should master.

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite finishing techniques is the applied I-cord. It adds such a lovely, rounded edge to collars, sleeves, and pockets. But that's just one way to use I-cord.

Designer AnnaLena Mattison wrote an article for Knitscene last spring, showing seven ways to use I-cord and it's a wonderful resource! Here's AnnaLena!

Seven Ways to Use I-Cord

I-cord is a narrow knitted tube, usually consisting of three to five stitches. This cord can be used for bag handles, hat ties, embellishments, or edgings. Famous knitter and author Elizabeth Zimmermann discovered the technique and named it idiot cord because it was so simple. Now, we just call it I-cord.

To make an I-cord is very easy. You will need yarn and two double-pointed needles in a size that works with the thickness of the yarn.

    
Figure 1
Basic I-Cord
Step 1:
Cast on 3 stitches.

Step 2: Knit the stitches, then slide them to the other end of the needle; do not turn the work but bring the working yarn behind the stitches to the first stitch on the needle (Figure 1), pulling the yarn snug against the back of the work.

Repeat Step 2 until the I-cord is as long as needed.

    
Figure 2
Figure 3
Attached or Applied I-Cord
This form of I-cord can be used as an edging on knitted items. In this case, you'll be picking up stitches along the selvedge of a knitted item and incorporating them into the I-cord.

Step 1: Cast on 3 stitches.

Step 2: Knit the stitches, then slide them to the other end of the needle; do not turn the work but bring the working yarn behind the stitches to the first stitch on the needle.

Step 3: Knit 2 stitches, slip 1 stitch as if to knit, use left needle to pick up 1 stitch along edge of work (do not knit; Figure 2), slip this stitch kwise to right needle, work last 2 stitches together as for ssk (the slipped I-cord stitch and the picked up stitch). Slide the 3 stitches to the other end of the needle; do not turn the work but bring the working yarn behind the stitches to the first stitch on the needle. Repeat Step 3 until the edging is complete.

    
Figure 4

Other Uses for I-Cord
As a variation on I-cord edging, stitches can be picked up along the work that needs to be edged (Figure 3) using an additional needle. A circular needle would work best if there are many stitches to pick up. With picked up stitches on your left needle, cast on desired number of I-cord stitches onto the left needle.

Work as for applied I-cord, but work the decrease with the last I-cord stitch and one stitch from the live, picked-up stitches. If using a circular needle, slip I-cord stitches back to the left needle and repeat until all picked up stitches have been worked.

I-cord edging can also be added to I-cord edging to create a double edging (Figure 4).

    
Figure 5
The Slouch Hat
Appliqued I-Cord
Used as embellishment, I-cord edging can be attached to any knitted surface by pinning a length of I-cord to the item and arranging it into any motif you like. Using a yarn needle and yarn, sew the I-cord to the item through the back, making sure the stitches do not show on the front of the work (Figure 5).

—AnnaLena Mattison, from Knitscene Spring 2013

The appliqued I-cord is amazing! It really adds a wonderful finish and you can add any motif you want to; it's up to you. Check out how effectively this technique is used in the Slouch Hat, at right. The I-cord swirl takes this hat from cute to sophisticated.

Every time I look through an older issue of Knitscene, I'm impressed with the in-depth how-to articles, innovative knitting patterns, and so much more. Get yourself the Spring 2013 issue of Knitscene while it's on sale! You can download it, too.

And while you're shopping, check out the rest of our screamin' deals on back issues of magazines! You'll discover all sorts of things that will inspire you.

Cheers,

P.S. What's your favorite thing about I-cord? Share it with us in the comments!


Featured Products

Knitscene Spring 2013 Digital Edition

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Digital Magazine Single Issue

Knitscene Spring 2013 features 23 knitting patterns that explore vintage-style knitting, I-cord, and bias knitting, as well as new knitted accessories from Catherine Shields. Learn how to make the most of I-cord and discover new and exciting yarn and products for 2013.

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Knitscene Spring 2013

Availability: In Stock
Was: $7.99
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Magazine Single Issue

Knitscene Spring 2013 features 23 knitting patterns that explore vintage-style knitting, I-cord, and bias knitting, as well as new knitted accessories from Catherine Shields. Learn how to make the most of I-cord and discover new and exciting yarn and products for 2013.

More

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Comments

Suebriquet wrote
on Jun 24, 2013 10:37 AM

There's a pattern I found that uses I-cord -- knit with all purl stitches -- to make a beaded necklace. The purl stitches give the cord a natural twist. Adding a bead at each "row" turns it into jewelry.

on Jun 23, 2013 8:00 AM

Making fingers for gloves. Easiest way to knit for the slimmest of fingers, or unordinary sizes. Just use a crochet hook to zip up the ladder...and done! Make three in largest size, one pinkie-sized, then thumb. I-gloves...with or without fingertips, but best with conductive yarn to work phone or touch screen.

NOTLFoodie wrote
on Jun 22, 2013 8:08 PM

Don't forget the icord cast-on!

SusanC@72 wrote
on Jun 22, 2013 4:47 PM

I-cord makes great straps. Make X3 and braid them.

Julietknits wrote
on Jun 19, 2013 5:20 AM

Attached I-cord instructions are tough to find! I have only found a couple before and they were kind of vague to me. I love the article you posted on this. I've had a little coin purse that I made from one of your e-books and the attached I-cord is the only part that kept me from the final finish. Thanks a million!

prayn wrote
on Jun 18, 2013 7:33 AM

Have some happy memories of this being one of the first things I learned to knit using a wooden spool that my Dad put nails in the top. Later taught my boys how to knit this on double pointed needles as wooden spools are pretty much a thing of the past :(  but a long car ride and some scrap yarn made for some funny "Monkey Tails" !!

Judykb wrote
on Jun 18, 2013 7:33 AM

I made a tiny short one--3/4" maybe--and attached to the hats I knitted for my twin preemie grandsons.  They are nine now and health, noisy, rambunctious boys.  God is good.

Cocoe wrote
on Jun 17, 2013 3:10 PM

Can you do an I-cord without a double-pointed needle?  I want to add it as an embellishment on the body of my handbag.

Twitch2 wrote
on Jun 17, 2013 2:30 PM

I love using icords for purse or backpack handles. They also make pretty awesome statement jewelry when you hand crochet an icord into a thick chain...

Big Stash wrote
on Jun 17, 2013 12:40 PM

Knit an I-cord over a piping cord to strengthen the I-cord and minimize stretching.  Works great for purse straps.

stitchellen wrote
on Jun 17, 2013 11:14 AM

I use I-cord as a welting for needlepoint pillows. I use one of the needlepoint yarns to knit i-cord long enough to go around the pillow, and then I use the same yarn to simply whip it to cover the seam that joins the needlepoint to the pillow backing.

joan adis wrote
on Jun 17, 2013 10:38 AM

Could you use I cord for a strapless smocked sundress

To make straps? Thank you joan

marybest wrote
on Jun 17, 2013 9:44 AM

Thanks for passing on the clear instructions for I-cord knitting. Can you also explain how to add a fine gauge wire to/in the cord to bolster the rim of a wide brimmed hat I'm knitting? Can't find any You tube to help me.

Mary Lee

levelin wrote
on Jun 17, 2013 9:32 AM

I am doing an I-cord edge to my wingspan.

For some odd reason, I like being able to knit in the back of my I-cord stitches, so I reverse the wrap going over the needle instead of under. The direction of the wrap effects the way stitches are mounted on the following row. I knit both eastern combined, and continental. I tend to do eastern combined in flat knitting, which is probably the reason for preferring to knit in the back. I was hugely confused when I came across ktb (knit in the back) , I couldn't figure out what back they meant since I was already in the back.

DonnaA wrote
on Jun 17, 2013 8:31 AM

I've rescued a couple of projects with icord where the neckline turned out too big for one reason or another. Just thread an icord through the neckline ,  pull it in and tie. It ended up looking like part of the design rather than an alternative to frogging the whole sweater.