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Love Means Never Having To PSSO

Dear Ann,
Announcement: I’ve finished knitting the 210 very long rows of Volt.
It’s frightfully exciting.
Grace Anna Farrow’s instructions instruct, in the elegantly economical way that I have already come to expect of her patterns, how to do the i-cord edging along the live stitches as a bind-off, and on the side edges (the row ends) via the pick-up-and-attach-it-as-you-go method.
I’ve applied miles of 4-stitch i-cord in a similar manner to all kinds of FOs needing a tidy, smooth edge. I’m an experienced customer of this technique. I love it so much it’s kind of ridiculous. (I mean, to love a knitting technique. That’s kind of unusual, I’m guessing. Not to just love it in the casual sense of the word, meaning, “I find this technique quite useful and good,” but love it in the way that I love a small mixed-breed terrier or candied orange peel or the quilts of Gee’s Bend, meaning, “I do not want to contemplate a life that does not include attaching i-cord to things on a regular basis.”)
I do it like this, whether my “edge stitch” results from a live stitch sitting there waiting to be bound off, or from picking it up: K3, k2tog (the last stitch of the i-cord with the edge stitch) THROUGH THE BACK LOOPS, slip all 4 stitches back onto left needle.
Here’s how the Volt instructions say to do it: K3, slip 1 (the last stitch of the i-cord), yo, k1 (the edge stitch), pass the slipped stitch and yarn-over over, replace stitches onto left-hand needle.
That slipping the yarnover business struck me as fiddly, and I wondered what it accomplished. I learned through googling around (and looking at one of our own books) that this is a common way to do attach an i-cord. I tried it out on my Volt, and saw that what it accomplishes is this: it hides that edge stitch, which in this case is in a contrasting color to the i-cord, in a neat and tidy manner.
But my way, a plain old k2tog through the back loops, does the same thing. And to me it is easier and even a bit neater (because you don’t have to pass a slipped stitch and a yarnover over, which can lead to an irregular or elongated stitch, although you probably get real good at it and stop having this problem in the course of a whole shawl’s worth of i-cord).
Here’s how it would look if you did a k2tog the regular way:
See how that grey stitch stands up straight and calls attention to itself? We’re not having any of THAT, people. That is abhorrent to all right-minded knitters, an affront to our ideals of workmanship. We will avoid it at all costs, including, if we have to, passing slipped stitches over.
And here’s how it looks the way I do it, working a k2tog through the back loop (the section of i-cord on the right):
The grey edge stitch is neatly tucked under the i-cord.
Here’s how it looks on the back:
Neat as…i-cord.
I-cord is all about the neatness. With complete respect to the designer, I’m doing it my way, unless somebody gives me a good reason not to.
Before I get very far along this edge.

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  1. … absolutely kay … i-cord agree with you 200% … onward and upward … hi paw from gumby!!!

  2. This is beautiful. Beeeaaaautiful.

  3. Oh through-the-back-loops looks so good. Thank you for the tutorial.

  4. Your way looks fine. When I did DAWN I followed her directions and it created a nice V along the edge? pic here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25241779@N00/4153010450/
    I probably did something kooky! Congrats on being at the I-cord phase – looks lovely!

  5. It is looking splendid! Love the I-cord edge you are so elegantly constructing, Kay!

  6. I think your way looks great, nobody but the thousands reading this will know that you didn’t pass the slipped stitch over anyway!

  7. I think your way looks great, nobody but the thousands reading this will know that you didn’t pass the slipped stitch over anyway!

  8. Beautiful – and who cares if neat edges is a disease anyway??!!!

  9. You go, girl! Through the back loops looks perfect.

  10. Your method works and executing a k2tog through back loops is pretty easy. I would probably pick your method in preference, just because I wouldn’t want to muck around with any extra yarnovers at that point.

  11. Ooh,ooh I love i-cord and candied orange peel too (especially covered in dark chocolate). Both have a certain stand-up-for-themselves characteristic that I just adore.

  12. Somebody has to ask: what’s that bit of red on the right? Do you (oh, no, it can’t be…) graft ends together after going the whole dang way around?

  13. That is one groovy I-Cord.

  14. Down with PSSO! Up with K2togTBL!

  15. I am at about the halfway point of the Moderne log cabin which means I am at the point where I contemplate the end. Trim – I was thinking i-cord. To stitch an i-cord trim all around this thing, with 2 fewer movements per row, gaining i-cord neatness anyway? HUGE! I’m looking forward to it!

  16. I’m not ashamed to admit that I am crazy in love with doing a figure 8 toe for socks on dpns. The sucky part is that I’ve yet to find a heel technique I can fall for.

  17. I have just icorded my way across the top of a Diamond Fantasy, K2togtbl. It’s too many stitches to do anything other than quick and simple. The purists will say that tbl twists the stitch and SL1K1PSSO doesn’t and I know this but I just don’t care. If I have to do it umpty million times I need something that is fast because I don’t love applied icord with the same intensity as you do.

  18. Kay, you are the queen of applied I-cord. Your way rocks! I have Shale in my queue waiting until I can find the yarn. Grace Anna Farrow sent me a personal thank you note when I ordered the book!

  19. That green yarn is very happy making.

  20. You are the Frank Sinatra of knitters — it looks much better your way!

  21. I love it that you can consult your own book as a reference!
    lovely i-cord, by the way 🙂

  22. Kay, over the years, you have given me the chance to develop my own very high regard for I-cord. It catches my imagination! Just yesterday, I was wondering if I would follow your example and make an I-cord edge for the Citron shawlette that I’m knitting with Jade Sapphire. Now I know: I. Must. Do. It.
    It’s Kismet!
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  23. Love the Volt-age
    THanks for the K2t through back loop hint.

  24. OK, since you asked for it . . . I do have to say that it would be kind of nice for the edge to have the same width as the chartreuse zigzag lines. I am deeply concerned that the edge is going to be a bigger dose of chartreuse than the edge really needs. Is there such a thing as supernarrow I-cord bindoff? This is only my humble opinion but I would be going for something narrower on the edge.

  25. I can’t wait to see this all finished. I’m hanging on to this post for when I knit mine!

  26. I totally vote your way.

  27. Kay, you are a revolutionary genius with the K2togtbl. I had already been thinking on this quite a bit, while knitting a sock pattern with lots of SSK’s. You’d mentioned substituting K2togtbl for SSK, and YOU ARE SO RIGHT! At least in many cases (I’ve discovered, starting the Hanami stole and attempting to use your subversive move instead of sl1, K1, PSSO, that it’s not such a good idea with slightly splitty laceweight yarn – PSSO has its place,) it’s a perfectly viable, quicker and less fussy option.
    I’m just wondering if you’re going to have to wrestle Barbara Walker someday, to establish once and for all which technique dominates….

  28. I am 3/4 of the way through edging a baby blanket with your applied i-cord technique, and *now* you tell us about K2togtbl! Well, I must cast on another baby blanket, that’s all there is.
    But I wanted to share this: instead of slipping all the stitches back to the left needle, if you just use a dpn, there’s no transferring of stitches. This, of course, only works with un-live stitches. (Dead stitches? Zombie stitches?)

  29. Kay, your i-cord is a thing of beauty. I shall bookmark this post for the future reference I know I will need.
    And now, since you have opened the door by mentioning candied peel, may I point you to June Taylor? NO ONE makes candied peel like this woman: http://junetaylorjams.com/specialties/specialties.htm . NO one! Next time you are in Berkeley you may wish to swoon in her shop and be revived with some of her bracing or sweet concoctions. Oh! WHAT a treat. (I also recommend the strawberry-rose geranium conserve.)

  30. For those who are concerned with Kay’s I-cord being too thick, why can’t you just make a 3- stitch I-cord: K2, K2togTBL (the last st of I-cord with the edge st), sl all 3 st back to left needle. (instead of starting with K3)? That should fix that right up!
    Beautiful job, Kay! Love the Volt!

  31. What brand of needle are you using. Looks like a red line to me and I love them? I-cord I have heard it called “knitter’s duct tape” lots of uses.

  32. What brand of needle are you using. Looks like a red line to me and I love them? I-cord I have heard it called “knitter’s duct tape” lots of uses.

  33. dear kay,
    i love your knitting nuttiness. it is so comforting that there are others from that planet here too.

  34. The end result coming out the way you want it is the correct way to do any technique, I think. so I agree, k2togtbl is way faster and more comfortable then yo psso! Nice job of explaining that similar outcome can be achieved in several ways!

  35. I too, did not like the appearance of the stitch sticking up on my last I-cord application and found that I liked the “wrong side” better so, I just applied I-cord from the wrong side and it made me happy. That’s what its all about, right?

  36. Now I never will forget the better substitute for PSSO is k2togtbl. Before, I was having trouble remembering it. You go, girl!

  37. looking good

  38. I think I just discovered why I’ve never fallen for applied i-cord! It’s those leggy stitches, which I now can avoid. LOVE!

  39. I think I just discovered why I’ve never fallen for applied i-cord! It’s those leggy stitches, which I now can avoid. LOVE!

  40. Generally, any instructions that pass stitches over are a pain in the behind. I remember doing the old “slip 1, knit 1, psso” before I discovered that ever so simple ssk.
    Double decreases where I want a straight line up/down the centre are my only exception.

  41. I recently used a 2-stitch I-cord to join the arm seams of an EZ BSJ, so you can certainly go that low for a narrow tube. Whether it has enough body to stand as a sturdy-enough edging might depend on the yarn (and knitter’s tastes).

  42. Kay, I’ve used your i-cord guides so many times now, I’m definitely a convert! I’m working on my own design for a publication right now, and I am applying white i-cord onto a red collar. I went back to this article and tried both methods. What I found was that with Grace’s method (yo, p2sso), you get a little extra i-cord yarn coverage at the edge. That extra YO hides the underlying fabric from the i-cord a little. So even though I’d rather go with the faster easier version (since I’m knitting on a tight deadline!), I’m doing Grace’s version this time. Great to understand the options!


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