When I finished knitting the 210 very long rows of my Volt shawl, and it was time to commence the applied I-cord edging, it was frightfully exciting.
Grace Anna Farrow’s instructions for Volt instruct, in the elegantly economical way that I have 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-a-stitch-and-attach-it-as-you-go method.
I’ve applied miles of 3- or 4-stitch I-cord in a similar manner to all kinds of projects needing a tidy, smooth edge. I love it so much it’s ridiculous. I don’t just love applied I-cord in the casual sense of “I find this technique quite useful and good.” I love it in the way that I love a small mixed-breed terrier or candied orange peel or the quilts of Gee’s Bend.
I do not want to contemplate a life that does not include attaching I-cord to things on a regular basis.
The concept of applied I-cord is this: you cast on 4 (or 3) stitches and begin to knit an I-cord, and apply–or attach–it to the edge of a piece by knitting the last stitch of each round of I-cord together with a stitch on the edge of the main piece.
I do applied I-cord the same way, whether my “edge stitch” results from a live stitch sitting there waiting to be bound off, or from picking it up. For a 4-stitch I-cord, it goes like this:
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.
[Note: I use two straight needles for applied I-cord. Ann advocates using double-pointed needles to avoid having to transfer the stitches back to the left needle on every round. With double-pointed needles, you can just slip the stitches to the other end of the needle. Both methods are legit, so it’s a matter of personal preference.]
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 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 (on the left) how that grey stitch stands up straight and calls attention to itself? We’re not having any of THAT. 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 over a slipped stitch and a yarnover.
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 gray edge stitch is neatly tucked under the I-cord.
Here’s how it looks on the wrong side:
The neatness of the join on the wrong side gives me unspeakable joy.
I-cord is all about the neatness, but there is more than one way to do neatly.