Magic Cast On

The third provisional cast on of the series is Judy Becker’s magic cast on, which was described in the spring 2006 issue of Knitty. It’s the most seamless of the cast ons if you’re doing stockinet or garter, and it’s perfect for making closed tubes, like socks and purses; for projects that start in the middle, like scarves and afghans with ends that are mirror images of each other; or for the start of a top-down triangular shawl. . It’s also fairly stable, so unlike the figure-8 cast on, you can freely put lots of stitches on the needles. The original directions are pretty clear, but Steps 4 and 5 of Becker’s article, where the actual stitch is being described, require much rereading and experimentation, so here’s an alternate explanation of the way it works.

For this cast on, you’ll need two needles (circs or dpn’s) or maybe one long circ and some practice yarn. My instructions aren’t identical to Becker’s, but they’re very close. The biggest difference is that, in Step 2, she has the knitter hang the tail end of the yarn over the index finger (opposite from the long-tail cast on), while I’m satisfied with holding the yarn in the standard long-tail cast on way. I’ve tried both methods, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference, so ….

1. Tie a slip knot around one of your needles, leaving a longish tail (about 12 inches or 30 cm).
2. Hold the yarn as if you were doing the long-tail cast on.
a. Your left hand is holding an imaginary glass of water.
b. Lay the yarn over the thumb and index finger of your left hand, with the tail end hanging from your thumb and the ball end hanging from your index finger.
c. Curl the middle, ring, and pinky fingers of your left hand into the palm and tuck the hanging strands of yarn into them.
d. The yarn itself forms an inverted triangle. A horizontal strand goes from your thumb to your index finger. One diagonal goes from your thumb to your middle finger, and another diagonal goes from your index to your middle finger. The needles are resting on the horizontal line at the top of the inverted triangle. The one with the slip knot is farthest from you, but we’ll get into that in the next step.

As you continue reading the instructions, it helps to think of the clock: 9:00 is to your left; 12:00 is in front of you; 3:00 is to your right; and 6:00 is behind you.

3. Hold both needles in starting position.
a. The needles are in your right hand. They point left to 9:00, and the needles are lying side by side, like the planks of a floor or the seat of a rocking chair.
b. It’s helpful to put the thumb of your right hand on this floor, so you always remember which side is the top.
c. The slip knot is on the needle that is farthest from you. Call this Needle 2.
4. Twist the needles so they point away from you to 12:00.
5. Tip the needles so that Needle 2 is above Needle 1. Imagine they’re a rocking chair you’re tipping to the left; your thumb is no longer on top, but to the left.
6. Twist the needles back to 9:00. On your way, make sure the horizontal part of the triangle that is nearest your left index finger slides between the two needles. When you are all the way back at 9:00, tip the needles back to starting position, with the right thumb on top and Needle 2 behind Needle 1.
7. Twist the needles so they point toward you to 6:00.
8. Tip the needles so that Needle 1 is above Needle 2. Imagine they’re a rocking chair you’re tipping to the right; your thumb is no longer on top, but to the right.
9. Twist the needles back to 9:00. On your way, make sure the horizontal part of the triangle that is nearest your left thumb slides between the two needles. When you are all the way back at 9:00, tip the needles back to starting position, with the right thumb on top and Needle 2 behind Needle 1.
10. Repeat Steps 4 to 9 until you finish casting on all of your stitches, ending with Step 6. If you do things right, you should feel a ridge forming on the underside of the needles.
11. Twist the working yarn and the cast-on tail once.
12. On Needle 1, knit all stitches (k), and on Needle 2, knit all stitches through the back of the loop (ktbl).
13. After that, do as the spirit moves you.

Once you get the hang of this cast on, the movements become smaller and subtler, a flick of the right wrist as the needles swing back and forth catching the yarn on their way.

Instead of starting with a slip knot, you can just twist the yarn around Needle 2. This sometimes produces a tiny hole at the end farthest from the cast-on tail, so if I’m making socks, I often work a couple of rows back and forth and just pick up stitches at the ends.

Figure-8 Cast On

The figure 8 cast on is similar to the Turkish cast on. It is done with two needles (circulars being ideal), and it produces an extra row of live stitches, which can be used as a top or bottom edge or as a way to work in the round. The only real difference is that, instead of wrapping the yarn around both needles at the same time in one direction (Turkish cast on), you wrap around the needles individually, moving the yarn around one needle in one direction and around the other in the opposite direction in a figure 8 (hence the name). Since the wraps aren’t anchored to anything, the stitches tend to loosen as you work across, so this cast on works better with fewer stitches, like the toes of socks and centers of scarves.

“So what is a figure 8?” you ask. It’s one circle stacked on top of another circle. Think Peeps, those odd little marshmallow chicks sold around Easter, only figure 8’s are two dimensional, so think Peep sliced vertically (Crossagital Peep. How gruesome). For a more precise sense of figure-8-ness, place two cups or cans next to each other on a table. Then wind a piece of yarn clockwise around one of them, making sure the yarn goes completely around it, and wrap the yarn counterclockwise around the other cup or can. If you trace the figure formed by the yarn, you notice two circles that touch where the yarn crosses between the cans, a little like a pair of eye glasses with a really short bridge. This is a figure-8, and if you keep alternately wrapping clockwise around the first can and counterclockwise around the second, you are making a figure-8 cast on. Here’s how you do it with needles and yarn.

1. Make a slip knot around one needle.
2. Hold both needles in your right hand, and point the tips left. The needles should be side-by-side, like the planks in a floor, and the slip knot is on the needle closest to you.
3. Grab the working yarn with the thumb and index finger of your left hand and guide it around the needles in the following way, keeping the needles more or less still.
a. Guide the yarn over the needle that is farthest from you, lead it down behind that needle, bring it under the needle and toward you, then pull it up between the needles. This puts a yarn over on the needle.
b. Guide the yarn over the needle that is closest to you, lead it down in front of that needle, bring it under the needle and away from you, then pull it up between the needles. This puts a backward yarn over on the needle.
c. Repeat A and B until the right number of stitches has been cast on to each needle. I always cast on one extra stitch so I can ignore the slip knot that is on one needle and the partial wrap that is on the other.
4. Gently tug on the tip of the needle that is closest to you, stopping when the wraps or stitches are in the center of the needle or on the cable if you’re using a circular. Then drop the tip.
5. Knit the wraps or stitches on the other needle in the usual way. The stitches are sloppy and loose so it helps to hold them in place with the fingers of your right hand.
6. Continue working back and forth on that needle, or work in the round as you normally would.

When it’s time to work the stitches on the idle needle, remember that they’re wrapped in the opposite direction (backward yarn overs), so you’ll need to knit or purl them through the back of the loop to untwist them. If that sounds too daunting, just slip each stitch to the right needle as if you were going to knit it, and then go back and knit or purl them in the usual way.

Making the figure-8 wraps is not difficult. The first few times, remembering what direction to wrap feels complicated. Then your left hand finds the rhythm, and your stitches are on the needle in no time.

Turkish Cast on, One Way to Go Provisional

The first real provisional cast on that worked for me was the Turkish cast on. It’s simple and elegant, really just wrapping the yarn around the knitting needle. It’s best for when you have a small number of stitches, like for the toe of a sock or the middle of a scarf. You can try it for larger numbers of stitches, and it’s doable, but things can get a little messy.

Turkish Cast on with Two Needles

The usual way to do this cast on is with an extra needle. You can use 3 double pointed needles, but I think two circular needles work much better.

1. Tie a slip knot around one needle.
2. Slide the slip knot about 2 inches (5 cm) away from the tip.
3. Hold the needle with the slip knot and a second needle in your right hand as if they were a single needle.
4. Point the needles toward your left hand.
5. Grab the working yarn with the thumb and index finger of your left hand, and pull away from the needles so the yarn is lightly taut.
6. Move the needles up and in front of the working yarn, away from you and over the working yarn, down and behind the working yarn, and toward you and under the working yarn. When you finish, you have made a yarn over.
7. Repeat Step 6, using the fingers of your right hand to keep the yarn overs from bunching and to slide the growing number of wraps away from the tip of the needles. Each of these yarn overs is a stitch.
8. When you have the right number of wraps or stitches on the needles, move the needles to your left hand.
9. Gently tug on one of the needles until the wraps are in the middle of the needle. If you’re using a circular, the wraps are on the wire.
10. Knit the stitches on the other needle. This is awkward because the needle in Step 9 is in the way, but it’s not bad if you’re using circs.

The cast on is complete. If you’re working in the round, do what you normally would with dpn’s, two circs, or magic loop. If you’re working flat, put point protectors or wrap rubber bands around the tips of the needle in Step 9, and continue working with the needle in Step 10. Either way, ignore the slip knot, dropping it off the needle when it is no longer handy.

Turkish Cast on with One Needle

The same general idea can be accomplished with a single needle. The method is no longer called the Turkish cast on, but since I haven’t found any consensus about what it is called, we’ll pretend they’re variations on a theme.

It’s also much easier to do than to explain. The hand is held as for the long-tail cast on, except that the working yarn hangs over the thumb, and the tail hangs over the index finger. For these instructions, the thumb yarn is the strand that goes from the thumb to the needle, and the index yarn is the strand that goes from the needle to the index finger.

1. Tie a slip knot around the needle, leaving a tail long enough to go along the entire cast-on edge with about 6 inches (15 cm) to spare.
2. Hold the needle in your right hand, and point it left.
3. Position your left hand as for the long-tail cast on, only hang the working yarn over your thumb and the tail over your index finger.
a. The thumb and fingers of the left hand are holding an imaginary glass of water.
b. The working yarn hangs over your thumb; the tail hangs over your index finger.
c. Curl the middle, ring, and little fingers like a fist, and tuck the hanging yarn into them.
d. If this is done correctly, the yarn forms a triangle that goes up from middle finger to index finger, horizontally from index finger to needle to thumb, and down from thumb to middle finger, .
4. Move the tip of the needle down and behind the thumb yarn, under the thumb yarn and toward you, and up and in front of the thumb yarn. This puts a yarn over on the needle.
5. Relax your left hand, and with your fingers, bring the tail/index yarn forward to the right of the working yarn, then in front of the working yarn, then to the left of the working yarn. This motion is a lot smoother than it sounds.
6. Repeat Steps 3 through 5 until the right number of yarn overs is on the needle, using the fingers of your right hand to keep the yarn overs or wraps from bunching and to slide them away from the tip of the needle. Each yarn over or wrap is a stitch.
7. Examine the work. Along the bottom of the needle is a ridge. This is the yarn tail that got tucked in under the wraps.
8. Slip a safety pin through the slip knot.
9. Knit the stitches in the usual way, careful not to pick up the yarn tail by accident.
10. Continue with your project.
11. When you are ready for live stitches along the cast-on edge, carefully untie a knot that is at the point where the cast-on tail enters the work.
12. Gently tug on the safety pin at the opposite end of the cast-on edge.
13. Slip the live stitches onto the needle as the tail is pulled out of the stitches. If you can slip the stitches onto the needle without pulling out the tail, that’s fine too.

This method is for working flat, not in the round. The cast-on edge is ragged and fragile. It’s a good idea to slip a skinny needle, one with a diameter of 2 to 3 cm, into those stitches early on, then wrap rubber bands around the tips to keep it from sliding out.

The Turkish cast on is simple enough to learn, even when you’re fairly new to knitting. The hardest part is keeping the wraps tidily on the needle. Once that’s mastered, the rest is no trouble at all.

Three Easy Provisional Cast Ons

Sometimes you don’t want to start a piece of knitting at the top or bottom edge. For example, you may want to make an afghan or rectangular shawl that you will be putting an edging around, or you may want to make a sweater, mittens, or socks, but you don’t know if you have enough yarn, so you start with the essentials—the body and sleeves of the sweater, the hands of the mittens, the feet of the socks—and leave the button bands, collars, cuffs, and thumbs for a matching yarn. When this is the case, you don’t want a real, definite cast on. What you want is a provisional cast on: a cast on that lets you have live stitches to knit from along the starting edge.

There are a number of ways to cast on provisionally. This post covers 3 easy methods that are technically not provisional cast ons, but when the project is finished, no one will ever know.

Leave a needle in the work

This method doesn’t necessarily produce a row of live stitches, but it does help you find stitches to work with, and it is definitely the easiest of the three described in this post as well as my favorite at this time.

It requires the use of a very thin needle, a needle that is 2 or 3 cm in diameter. Even if you have no intention of ever knitting with such an artifact, including one in your kit is a good idea as such needles are great for lots of things, lifelines being the most practical.

1. Hold your project needle and your skinny needle together as if they were a single needle; then cast on in the usual way. Hold them in your right hand for the simple and long-tail cast on, or hold them in your left hand for most other cast ons. When you finish, you have a row of stitches with two needles inside.
2. Place rubber bands around the tips of the skinny needle so the needle doesn’t accidentally slip out of the work.
3. Work the first and subsequent rows with the project needle as you ordinarily would.
4. When you finish your project and are ready for live stitches at the cast-on edge, you can either knit or graft directly from the skinny needle or knit a preliminary row with the skinny needle in the left hand and the project needle in the right.

Cast on with Scrap Yarn

This seemed the least complicated method when I decided to learn a provisional cast on. It takes some practice, but it works.

It requires the use of a piece of scrap yarn that is smooth, like dishcloth cotton, bamboo, modal, or nylon cord. Its texture should be different from the project yarn so you can easily tell the two apart by touch, and it should be a little over 3 times longer than the cast-on edge, so if the cast-on edge will be about a foot long, then you need a piece of scrap yarn that is a little over 3 feet long.

1. Cast on with the scrap yarn in the usual way. The crochet cast on is definitely the best method; just remember to put a pin in the last cast on stitch. The cable cast on is probably the second best method. If you prefer the long-tail cast on, tie the scrap yarn to the project yarn, lay the project yarn over your index finger and the scrap yarn over your thumb, then proceed as usual.
2. Work the first and subsequent rows with the project yarn. If you have a skinny needle, hold it together with the project needle to work the first row; place rubber bands around the tips of the skinny needle; and continue working with the project needle only.
3. When you finish your project and are ready for live stitches at the cast-on edge, pull the scrap yarn out of the work. Start with the last stitch you cast on. If you used the crochet cast on, simply pull the pin out of the last cast-on stitch, and tug gently on the tail. If you used another cast on, pull the scrap yarn out of the work, using your fingers or a knitting needle.
4. As you pull the scrap yarn out of the work, put the live stitches onto a needle. Obviously, this step is not necessary if you inserted a skinny needle into the work in Step 2.

Give Yourself a False Start

When I tried this method, I found it to be easier than the previous one. It gave me a chance to settle into my gauge, but when I was anxious to get a project going, the first few rows called for in this method felt like a big waist of time.

It requires two types of yarn in addition to the project yarn.
• The starter yarn can be anything though it helps to choose a yarn of a similar gauge to the project yarn. You’ll be working 3 or 4 rows with it, so you need a not so small amount.
• The scrap yarn is a piece of smooth yarn, like dishcloth cotton, bamboo, modal, or nylon cord, and it should be a little over 3 times longer than the cast-on edge, so if the cast-on edge will be about 30 cm long, then you need a piece of scrap yarn that is a little over 90 cm.
I use yarns with different textures so I can easily tell the starter yarn, scrap yarn, and project yarn apart by touch.

1. With the starter yarn, cast on the correct number of stitches, and work 3 or 4 rows. You can work in pattern just to give your hands a chance to learn it, or you can do some basic stockinet or garter.
2. With the scrap yarn, knit one row.
3. Work the next and subsequent rows with the project yarn. If you have a skinny needle, hold it together with the project needle to work the first row; place rubber bands around the tips of the skinny needle; and continue working with the project needle only.
4. When you finish your project and are ready for live stitches at the cast-on edge, pull the scrap yarn out of the work. You can start at either end. While you can use your fingers to remove the scrap yarn, picking and lifting it with a knitting needle works very well.
5. As you pull the scrap yarn out of the work, put the live stitches onto a needle. Obviously, this step is not necessary if you inserted a skinny needle into the work in Step 3.

The next few posts will cover other provisional cast ons, which actually do produce a row of live stitches. The methods described in this ost, however, work and are especially easy to do.

Two Double Knit Cast Ons

One of my knitting fantacies is to make a sock using double knitting. An even steamier sock fantacy is to make a sock within a sock using double knitting, but one step at a time, right?

Double knitting is a technique that lets knitters make a tube on a straight needle. In a nutshell, the idea is to cast on an even number of stitches then * slip one, knit one * on an even number of rows, as two rows make one round. I’ll go into more details in a future post. For now, I’ll cover two methods of casting on for double knitting: one that is suitable for the open cuff end of a sock and another that is suitable for the closed toe end.

Open Cast on for Double Knitting

This is really just the simple cast on worked with two strands of yarn.

1. Use the yarn to tie a slip knot around the needle, leaving a long tail. The tail should be a little more than three times longer than the circumference of the item you’re going to make. If the sock is 8 inches around, the tail needs to be a little over 24 inches long.
2. Hold the needle in your right hand. This is the only needle you will use.
3. Position your left hand as you do for the long-tail cast on: your thumb and fingers are holding an imaginary glass of water.
4. Hang the tail end of the yarn on your thumb so that it goes over the top and down in front (nail side). The needle is pointing left between your thumb and index finger. The free end of the tail is on the side of your thumb that is closest to your wrist.
5. Hang the ball end of the yarn on your index finger so that the yarn goes under your index finger and away from you, behind your index finger (nail side) and up toward the ceiling, over the top of your index finger and toward you, and in front of your index finger and down. The needle is pointing left between your thumb and index finger. The ball end of the tail is between your palm and the strand that goes from needle to index finger.
6. Close your middle, ring, and little fingers around both hanging strands of yarn. The needle is pointing left, resting on your left hand. The yarn in your left hand does not form the triangle of the long-tail cast on because the yarn is wrapped around the index finger differently.
7. Make a loop with your thumb.
a. Twist the needle counterclockwise so that it points to you.
b. Point the tip of the needle down, stopping when it touches the fleshy part of your left hand.
c. Slide the tip of the needle up your thumb, stopping when you reach the tip of your thumb. The yarn around your thumb has formed a loop, and the tip of the needle is inside it.
d. Pull your thumb out of the loop, and tighten the stitch by catching the yarn with your thumb and straightening it.
8. Position the needle as in Step 6.
9. Make a loop with your index finger.
a. Point the needle down so that it’s pointing into the palm of your left hand.
b. Rest the tip of the needle at the base of your middle finger.
c. Slide the tip of the needle up your index finger, stopping when you reach the tip of your finger. The yarn around your index finger has formed a loop, and the tip of the needle is inside it.
d. Pull your finger out of the loop, and tighten the stitch by catching the yarn with your index finger and straightening it.
10. Position the needle as in Step 6.
11. Repeat Steps 6-9, ending with Step 7 for an even number of stitches.
12. Twist the working yarn and cast-on tail once.
13. Hold the needle with the stitches in your left hand.
14. Work the first two rows as follows: * k1, sl1 *.

Instead of a slip knot, you can just twist the yarn around the needle in Step 1.

Closed Cast on for Double Knitting

The official double knitting goddess is Beverly Royce. I have a scan of the 1981 edition of her book Notes on Double Knitting, but I don’t have complete publication information to share though I suspect the publisher is Schoolhouse Press. The book is generally very readable and clear, but I had an incredibly difficult time with the cast on instructions, whose details I almost understand. The instructions for Invisible Cast On 1 read as follows:

Make a fist with your left hand. Then make a letter “C” with the thumb and forefinger. Hold the “C” parallel to the floor. Leave the other fingers in a closed position. Pick up the end of the yarn in the right hand and lay it over the left thumb and on over the forefinger. Let the yarn extend about 12″ beyond the forefinger, or more, depending on how many cast on stitches are required. Then, grasp the two yarns in the other three fingers. Insert the needle, from front to back, under the yarn, from left to right and turn the needle counter-clockwise half a turn. This loop, or twist, is the first cast on stitch. You now have a yarn coming from the thumb to the twist on the needle, and a yarn coming from the forefinger to the twist. The needle, then goes over the yarn toward you, picking up a loop from the yarn coming from the thumb. Then it picks up a loop from the yarn coming from the forefinger by going over the yarn away from you. Now the needle goes under the yarn coming from the thumb. Two stitches have been cast on. Then, take the needle *over the yarn of the forefinger – over the yarn of the thumb – again over the yarn of the forefinger – then under the thumb yarn.* Four stitches have been cast on. Repeat the instructions between *’s for the required number of stitches. Always end with an “under”, as this places an even number of cast on stitches on the needle. Secure the last loop by twisting the two yarns, then begin P-S [pattern stitches] in rounds.

I spent weeks trying to trace the course of the needle and figure out how it picked up loops on its way. I finally came up with an interpretation that made sense to me and produced good results, but as I compare my instructions with Royce’s, I’m not really sure we’re saying the same thing.

Nevertheless, being an optimistic soul, I offer this alternative set of instructions. Royce suggests using a smaller needle for the cast on and first 2 rows. That makes sense. The round next to the cast on is a little looser than the rest, but not too bad.

Ana’s Instructions:

As you work this cast on, keep in mind that the stitches don’t keep their shape all that well, so it helps to hold the new stitches between the thumb and index finger of the right hand.

1. Put a slip knot on the right needle, leaving a long tail. Once you get the hang of this pattern, you can just twist the yarn around the needle as the official instructions describe.
2. Position your hands as for a long-tail cast on. The fingers of your left hand are holding an invisible glass of water. The yarn is laid over your thumb and index finger. The dangly ends are tucked into your middel, ring, and little fingers, which are curled closed. You’ve got an up-side-down triangle of yarn that goes from the middle finger upt to the thumb, over to the index finger, and down to the middle finger. The needle is in your right hand. It’s lying on the horizontal top of the triangle. One stitch is on the needle.

For the remaining instructions, the thumb yarn is the strand that goes from the thumb to the needle, and the index yarn is the strand that goes from the index finger to the needle. Those are the only strands you’re concerned with. the strands that go from thumb or index to the middle finger do not figure at all:

3. Move the needle toward you, and put it under the thumb yarn. This is the starting point.
4. With the tip of the needle, describe a circle that goes around the index strand: away from you and over the strand, down and behind the strand, and toward you and under the strand. Stop when you reach the starting point.
5. Move the needle toward you, then up, and back to where it was in step 2, the top of the horizontal part of the triangle. Once you get the hang of it, you’re really just moving the yarn with your thumb to ankor the stitch.

Bravo! You’ve cast on one stitch. the next stitch will be the same process in mirror image.

6. Move the needle away from you, and put the needle under the index yarn. This is the starting point.
7. With the tip of the needle, describe a circle that goes around the thumb strand: toward you and over the strand, down and in front of the strand, and away from you and under the strand. Stop when you reach the starting point.
8. Move the needle away from you, then up, and back to where it was in step 2, the top of the horizontal part of the triangle. Once you get the hang of it, you’re really just moving the yarn with your index finger to ankor the stitch.

Bravo! Another stitch has been cast on.

9. Repeat Steps 3 through 8 until you have the desired number of stitches, ending with Step 5 for an even number of stitches. Remember to work from one strand, then the other.
10. After the last stitch has been cast on, twist the tail and the working yarn once.
11. Work the first row as follows: * sl1, k1tbl *. The stitch will be twisted, and the ktbl untwists.
12. Work second row as follows: * sl1, k1 *.

With these two cast ons, I’m one step closer to making my double knit socks happens.

I-Cord Ideas

Contributed By Karen Schrade

I-cord is a narrow knitted tube. It can be an accessory, an edging, a decoration, and so much more. It is usually made by casting on 2, 3, or 4 stitches.

Stockinet I-Cord

I-cord is made like this:

1. Cast the number of stitches called for (usually 3 or 4) onto a double-pointed needle.
2. Knit them with a second dp needle.
3. Slide them to the other end of the needle, without turning the work.
4. Bring the yarn around the back.
5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 until you have the length called for.
6. Finish with sl1, k2tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off.

**You don’t need double points. You can just return the stitches to your left-hand needle if you’re using “regular” straight needles.**

Reverse Stockinet I-Cord

The basic directions for I-cord make a tube with the knit side out. To make the I-cord with the purl side out:

1. Cast on 3 sts.
2. Slide to other end of dpn, or return sts to left-hand needle.
3. Pull the yarn across the front of the sts.
4. Knit 3.
5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 until you have the length called for.
6. Finish with sl1, k2tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off.

By pulling the yarn across the front rather than across the back, you are effectively turning the I-cord inside out.

Applied I-Cord

There are variations that allow you to knit i-cord onto another piece of knitting:

Applied I-cord is attached to an edge after the item is completed.

1. Work two rows of I-cord in the regular way.
2. For the third row, knit the first two stitches; then pick up a stitch from the garment and knit it together with the third stitch of the I-cord.
3. Repeat Row 3 along the edge of the item.
4. Either sl1, k2 tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off, when the end of the i-cord is reached, or if working in the round, graft two ends of I-cord together.

You can use a contrasting color for your I-cord edgings.

Attached I-Cord

To attach I-cord while knitting a piece of fabric, add 3 stitches (for a 3 st I-cord) to the side(s) of the piece of fabric.

Row 1: Work to the last 3 sts (the I-cord sts), and with yarn in front, sl 3 purlwise.

Row 2: K3 (the 3 I-cord sts), work across, or if you want I-cord on both sides, to the last 3 sts, with yarn in front, sl3 purlwise.

**Wrapping the yarn clockwise, in the opposite direction from usual, on the I-cord sts makes the corded edge firm and regular.**

I-Cord in the Middle of a Row

(Ana’s addition)

You can work i-cord in the middle of a row to mark the turn in a purse or make decorative piping near a button band.

Just slip the same 2 or 3 stitches on alternate rows. For example:

Cast on 11 sts.

Row 1: P11.
Row 2: K5, kfb, k5.
Row 3: P5, sl2, p5.
Row 4: K12.
Repeat Rows 3 and 4, ending with:
Even row: K5, k2 tog, k5.
Odd row: P11.

I-Cord Cast on

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s I-cord cast on:

1. Invisibly Cast on 3 stitches.
2. Work I-Cord until you have as many “rounds” of Cord as you want stitches for the project.
3. Weave the end of the Cord to the beginning of the cord.
4. With the working yarn, Knit Up one stitch for each round of Cord.

** Ana’s note: If you don’t like picking up stitches, you can insert a skinny needle purlwise into the first stitch before working each row of i-cord. When you’re done, use the project needle to work the stitches off the skinny needle through the backs of the loops.**

I-Cord Bind Off

For a nice edge on a bind off, do an I-cord bind off.

1. With the sts to be bound off on the left-hand needle, cast on 3 extra sts.
2. For Row 1: k2, k2tog-tbl. This is the last of the 3 “extra sts” and the first of the sts to be bound off.
3. Return 3 sts to l-h needle.
4. Repeat row 1 until all sts have been “bound off”.
5. Either sl1, k2 tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off when the end of the i-cord is reached, or graft two ends of I-cord together if working in the round.

** Ana’s note: If you want the i-cord bind off to be in a contrasting color, work the last row before the bind off in the CC. **

Three-Needle Bind off with I-Cord

You can do a 3-needle bind off with I-cord for a decorative seam, joining two pieces for a cushion cover; shoulder seams; the bottom of a bag, etc.

With your 2 pieces of knitting facing each other, right side out, cast on 2 I-cord sts.

*Knit 1, slip 1, knit together the first st of each shoulder piece, pass the slipped st over (1 st effectively bound off)*

Slip the 2 sts on the right needle back to the left and continue working from * to * until you run out of sts to be bound off.

** You can also do 3 or 4 sts for the cord. **

Double I-cord:

1. Cast on 7 stitches.
2. Knit 4. Slip the last 3 stitches purlwise with the yarn held in front. Turn .
3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until the double i-cord is the length you need.

Reinforced I-Cord

This method for making a strong, non-stretching I-cord came from Joan Hamer. It can be used for purse handles or anything else when you want a stiffer cord.

1. Using #4 dpn’s, cast on 3 sts. Do not turn.
2. Slide sts to the other end of the needle.
3. Hold a piece of cable cord the desired length of your I-cord in back of work, with 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) sticking up above left needle.
4. Bring working yarn underneath cable cord and knit 3 sts. Yarn will be coming from left edge of piece. Do not turn.
5. Slide sts to the other end of needle and UNDERNEATH cable cord, thus enclosing the cord inside the I-cord tube.
6. Check your work to make sure your cord is always enclosed in the tube. As you work, keep pulling a bit of cord up so that 3-4″ are always sticking out the top.
7. Continue in this manner until you have the desired length of cord. Pull down on the piece periodically to even out the gaps.
8. Finish off ends, taking yarn through the cable cord to prevent the cord from slipping, or use sewing thread to anchor them. Tie the ends together in a slip knot after threading through eyelet holes in your bag, or knit tabs to attach to bag and thread the cords through the tabs.

Joan L. Hamer Editor/Publisher Pine Meadow Knitting News http://www.fibergypsy.com/pmkn/

Square I-Cord

The directions for square i-cord are in Elizabeth Zimmermann’s book, Knitting Around, .

Just make i-cord as usual, but K1, P1, K1 rather than knitting all 3 sts.

I-cord Bobbles

From The Santa Barbara Knitting Studio & TRISH DESIGNS

1. Knit into the front, back, and front of the same stitch.
2. Slip these new stitches back to the left hand needle and knit them again.
3. Repeat Step 2 as many rows as needed.
4. Pass the 2nd and 3rd sts over the first, ending with your original stitch. You never have to turn the work, and if you pull the yarn tightly across the back the bobbles come out very rounded.
5. if you pick up the original stitch from the left edge of the bobble (right at the beginning of it), slip it onto the right hand needle and pull the new stitch off over it (as in binding off), pulling the bound off stitch tight. This closes up the back of the bobble and makes it more like a little ball.

Uses for I-cord

• I-cord can be coiled and sewn together to make coasters, placemats, hot pads, even a throw rug if you aren’t easily bored.
• I-cord works as bag handles and the ties on caps.
• I-cord can be threaded through eyelets for booties, caps, or bags.
I-cord can be used as ribbon to tie up gift packages.
• I-cord can be glued around a picture frame with perhaps a bow tied on one corner as trim.
• I-cord at the top of a cap, tied in a knot, makes a cute finish.
• I-cord in various colors can be sewn onto finished fabric for flowers, letters, etc instead of duplicate stitch.
• I-cord can be used to make a tassel as follows:

I-Cord Tassel for the Top of a Cap.

After decreasing the crown of the cap to app. 15 sts, sl all the sts onto a holder. *Taking one stitch at a time, k into the front, back, and front of the st making 3 from 1. Work I-cord for desired length, maybe 2 or 3 inches and finish off.*

Repeat for each of the sts and tie a piece of yarn around the base of the cords to complete.

Other I-Cord Projects

Soccer ball hat:

Soccer ball hat:
Referee stripes border this close-fitting cap which is adorned with a 3-dimensional soccer ball. The ball is knitted of 7 bobbles in black and white. The pattern is written for circular knitting with row-by-row instructions and sells for a modest price.

I-cord gloves:

Using Meg Swansen’s I-Cord finger technique, these gloves are started at the fingers and finished at the cuff.

Maggie’s Rags Free Knitting Patterns – Christmas Wreath Ornament

You’ll make 3 I-cords and braid them together for this little ornament.

Crochet Cast On

The crochet cast on is a starting row that many knitters have trouble with. The barrier is probably psychological as those of us who are monogamous to the knitting needle have trouble finding uses for the crochet hook. Still, this is a good cast on to know as it is attractive, identical to the slip stitch selvage, and handy as a provisional cast on.

For bicrafters and others more skilled than I, the easiest way to do this is to make a crochet chain in the usual way, then to slide the knitting needle under the correct strand. For the rest of us, this process involves much swearing and picking up of the wrong strand.

So the other alternative is to use a conventional knitting needle and a crochet hook of about the same size. Actually, with a little practice, the process can be done with the two ends of a circular needle and a little finger gymnastics, but for this post, I explain the official version, which can be found in many blogs and knitting books.

What’s that? Don’t own a conventional single pointed knitting needle? Use a double pointed needle, and if the thought of one of those foreign objects makes you shiver, try a pencil. Once you get the concept, you’ll figure out how to use a circ.

Note: these instructions assume you’re right-handed.

1. Sit in a nice comfy chair with your knees together.
2. Place the conventional knitting needle between your knees. The needle is held vertically, with the idle end against the seat cushion and the point toward the ceiling.
3. Make a slip knot on the crochet hook. The slip knot is the first loop.
4. Slide the loop up the shaft so that it is about 2 inches (5 cm) from the hook.
5. With your right hand, hold the hook horizontally, and position it against the needle. The hook is in front of the needle, handle to the right and hook to the left. The needle and the hook are perpendicular to each other, like a Christian cross. The loop is to the right of the needle. The hook bends upward, though this really doesn’t matter.
6. With your left hand, wrap the working yarn around the knitting needle. Pull the yarn away from you on the right side of the needle, to the left behind the needle, and toward you on the left side of the needle.
7. Lay the working yarn over the crochet hook. It is between the loop and the hook.
8. Drag the loop to the hook and pull until it drops off. A new loop is formed by the working yarn.
9. Repeat Steps 4 to 8 until you’re 1 stitch short. Be careful that you don’t accidentally wrap the yarn around the hook as you wrap the working yarn around the needle. I use my thumb to guide the yarn under the hook and around the needle.
10. Slip the loop onto the knitting needle.
11. Begin knitting.

The process is slow and tedious at first, but the result is so attractive that it’s worth doing again, and over time, it’s as quick and smooth as other cast ons. A future post covers how to use this as a provisional cast on. For now grab your hook and needle, and cast away.

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