Some things in knitting are complicated, and some things are easy. And some things are easy and look complicated. I-cord edging 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.
Making 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.
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.
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.
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).
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 Mattinson, from Knitscene Spring 2014
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.