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How to Knit I-Cord Onto a Sweater / Applied I-Cord

Once upon a time, I started a wonderful sweater – a design by Jean Moss called Rapunzel:

As I neared the finish line, I stalled big time.

WHY? The pattern called for YARDS of I-cord to be knit and slip-stitched into place to form a beautiful design detail around a shaped bodice and neckline.

I just couldn't face it.

Then one day it hit me like a load of bricks...

It was time to start bossing my knitting around!


The I-cord

I-cord is very cool stuff! You've probably seen it as a purse strap or a tie on a hat - it is a narrow band of knitting that can be used as, well, a cord!

The technique uses two double pointed needles to work its magic. (You can see how to make un-attached I-cord in this video.)

Basically, you knit across your stitches but never turn your work. The right side of your work is always facing you.

To get the yarn to the *working side* or right edge of the next row, you slide your working stitches to the right edge of your double pointed needle, then you simply pull the yarn that's at the end of the row snuggly across the back of your knitting and knit the first stich of the row.

Keep doing that and you make a very nice rounded cord. I thought it was truly magic the first time I did it because I'm a skeptical soul and didn't believe it would work. You won't either so just take my word for it and SET YOURSELF FREE!


Close-Up of Basted Front Edges

Here is the part that is going to save Rapunzel!

I am going to knit one row, then on the next row, I am going to pick up a purl head (a Purl Head is the top of the purl stitch that faces you on the right side of your knitting. I always think of Chicago's homeboy Eddie Vedder when I say or write this because I am a Pearl Jam Head...).

I will knit the picked up loop together with the first stitch on my needle.

This will attach the I-cord to the sweater with NO PESKY SLIP STITCHING!

Because I am attaching the I-cord to a part of the sweater that is worked in Seed Stitch (K1, P1), the Purl Heads are very obvious and just screaming to be picked up and knit!

So I will attach the I-cord every other stitch on the angled bodice. I'm working the piece flat on my lap for ease of view and to help keep the angle *straight*. It's D**n cold here in Chicago, so it's also acting like a cool lap robe fo me :)

So here's my technique for Rapunzel:

Row 1: Knit all stitches then pull yarn snuggly across back of work and slide all stitches to right edge of needle.

Row 2: Pick up a Purl Head from the bottom of the head and K2TOG with the first *real* stitch on your needle.

REPEAT these two rows until I-cord is attached around the area you want it to be.


No Purl Heads?

Since my garment was moss stitch, it was easy to attach at every purl head.

If you have Stockinette Stitch, just attach into a right or left side of the knit stitch loop, whichever looks best with the design and yarn you are using.


Straight vs. Curved Edges

Depending on the garment design and shape, you might want to attach the I-cord at different intervals than given above.

On a Straight Edge: My rule of thumb is the same as what I use for picking up stitches on a button band: stitch gauge minus 1, ie. if your stitch gauge is 5sts per inch, attach the I-cord to every stitch for 4 stitches, skip a stitch and continue.

Every few rows, I slightly stretched the I-cord and checked its position on the garment.

On a Curve or Edge: this is a finagle for sure but on average worsted weight wool it takes 3 stitches to turn a corner on an edge.


the Result

Once you start, you can't stop!

This is so easy to do and and the results are so pleasing, you'll be applying I-cord all over the place.

Make swirls! Make objects! Make Letters! It's easy. It's Chic! It's FUN!



©Bonne Marie Burns
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