Knitting an I-Cord
An I-cord is basically knitted rope; or, more precisely, a very narrow tube of stockinette stitch.
It has a variety of decorative uses and you'll usually find it used as borders on items like blankets and cushions, or used as straps and drawstrings. However, you can really get creative with I-cord.
I've seen it used as the legs on a stuffed bird toy, for instance, as well as sewn into shapes such as flowers and used as embellishments. But my favourite use is where the I-cord is used as really bulky yarn and knitted using large diameter needles to create an awesome chunky knit effect.
The 'I' in I-cord actually stands for 'idiot' because it's supposed to be so easy to make!
I think it's a good technique for beginners to learn because it is the simplest introduction to circular knitting you can have.
Photo of an insect using I-cord as the antennae, by Storebukkebruse.
All of the techniques I've covered so far have only involved what is called 'flat knitting' where you knit a row, turn your work over (swapping the needles between your hands), and then knit a row on the other side of your work.
However, circular knitting is where you don't turn your work over between rows; you just keep knitting round and round on the front/right side of your work. This creates a seamless tube shape, and therefore circular knitting is used where you are making 3D shapes.
In terms of what equipment you need for each type of knitting; circular knitting needles or a set of double-pointed needles (DPNs) are used for circular knitting projects, whilst flat knitting is mostly done on straight single-pointed needles.
I-cord usually only requires 3 or 4 stitches to be cast on to your needles, although 5 or 6 stitches is not unheard of.
Circular knitting normally involves many more stitches than this, and because the number of stitches in an I-cord is so few, you can't use the usual methods.
I.e. You can't use circular needles, and you can't use a set of 4 or 5 DPNs to make it. Instead, you need to use either 2 DPNs or 2 straight needles.
Below you will find the video lesson for the I-cord.
It is the sliding of the stitches on the DPNs, (or the slipping of the stitches on the straight needles), that produces circular knitting instead of flat knitting.
The only techniques you need to know to make an I-cord are: casting on, the knit stitch, binding off and (if you're using straight needles) slipping stitches purlwise.
These are all just simple, basic techniques, which makes the I-cord perfect for a beginner.
The very last step in finishing the I-cord is weaving the yarn tails in at both ends.
Unfortunately I couldn't find my yarn needle at the time of filming this video (oops) but it is very simple.
The idea is just to hide the yarn tail within the centre of the I-cord, so you just need to feed each tail down the centre of the I-cord at each end, using a yarn or tapestry needle, and cut off the excess yarn.
You can see my lesson on weaving in here.
Here you can see the effect created by knitting with I-cord and large diameter needles.
With regards to what you can do with I-cord after you've made it, here are some links to projects and tutorials that will hopefully give you lots of inspiration!
Creative I-Cord Ideas:
Attractive design based on the Carrick Bend Mat knot.
Cute pretzel shape with added white beads.
Video tutorial for braiding 4 I-cords together.
Long wraparound necklace in different shades.
These aren't actually made with I-cords, but they easily could be.
Modern jewellery idea with knotted I-cords.
Cover a cable with yarn for a tactile finish.
How to add a border to your project.
Shape your cord into words using wire.
You need to knit lots of I-cord for this project!
Wool roving inside the tube adds substance.
Use both red and white yarn to make the stripes.
A fun, colourful accessory for Winter.
With a button embellishment.
F i n d I - C o r d K n i t t i n g G a d g e t s o n A m a z o n :
I bought one of these I-cord knitters (from the Prym brand) a few years ago, and they really are a gem of a time saver if you want to knit lots of I-cord.
These little machines are powered by simply rotating the crank arm on the side, and once they've been set up you can create metres of I-cord in a matter of minutes...which is pretty impressive.
French knitting dollies, on the other hand, allow people who can't knit (and kids) have fun making I-cords too :)