One of my current favorite Yes-I’m-Going-To-Knit-That patterns is Let It Snow by Caroline Levander from the winter edition of Twist Collective.
I love pillbox hats (although I have to be very careful with proportions, or it looks less than flattering on me), and Levander’s design is elegant both from the design perspective and a mathematical one – all the work she put into figuring out the decreases show, beautifully.
However, once I’d purchased the pattern (there’s errata in the written directions, btw, check the errata from Twist), I was somewhat shocked, shocked, to find that the applied i-cord was not in fact applied in the classical sense. The pattern directs knitters to make an i-cord and then sew it on.
Well. If that wasn’t a challenge…
I happened to be just starting a hat for a Christmas present, and decided immediately to make it a pillbox with applied i-cord edging. After knitting the sides and the top separately, I sat down to figure out the applied i-cord edging.
Okay, it was harder than I thought. After ripping out six or seven different tries, I discovered that trying to get the two edges of the pieces to hold tightly together wasn’t working the way I wanted it to. I wanted it to cinch those pieces together smoothly, tightly, and elegantly, and basically one side or the other insisted on remaining stubbornly detached.
All the applied i-cord instructions I’d seen or used had called for casting on a number of new stitches on the left needle with the body of knitting, knitting across the new stitches to the last stitch, and then knitting the furthest left i-cord stitch to the furthest right body stitch with a k2tog or what have you. Then you slip all the stitches back to the left needle and start over again.
I was trying to go through the edge stitches of both pieces of the hat on that final body stitch, and I kept ending up with one side flapping about.
Detective work (okay, burrowing through my books) brought something to light that I’d never seen on the projects I’ve worked in my short career as a knitter.
According to Elizabeth Zimmerman, applied i-cord should always have two extra steps: after casting on and knitting the i-cord stitches, you knit the edge stitch of the body (thus ending up with one more stitch on your i-cord), and then pass the stitch to the right of the last stitch (the extra stitch) over the last stitch, dropping it off the needle.
I’d never seen i-cord with the pso before. Apparently, this is the old-fangled way of doing i-cord — the new-fangled way is quicker (one less step)
And this solved my problem. The i-cord is now firmly attached on both sides of the seam, and the seam is quite tight and secure.
So, here it is, if you’ve waded through all of that: applied i-cord that will work to anchor two pieces of knitting together. (If you want pictures, let me know, and I’ll add them.)
Your left needle has the live stitches of the body of knitting. Figure out how many stitches of the secondary piece of knitting need to go into the live stitches or vice versa. (For smoothest effect, try to make this easing of stitches to stitches as even as possible around your knitting.) Pin the new pieces together if necessary.
Cable cast-on the stitches for your i-cord onto the left needle to the right of the live stitches. Let’s say, arbitrarily, 3 stitches. Knit 3 stitches. Insert tip of needle through next stitch on left needle as if to knit, and then again through the first top stitch of the secondary piece of knitting. Yarnover the right needle tip and knit the two stitches together firmly but not tightly, pulling the new stitch to the right needle. Pass the 3rd stitch on the needle over the 4th stitch and let it drop off the needle. Slip all three stitches back to the left needle and do it all again until all stitches are off the left needle. Bind off or graft the end of the i-cord.
Sometimes, the old ways are best. At least for some things. :)
I’ve a feeling the easiest way to do this for Let It Snow is to use a provisional cast-on for both pieces or to pick up stitches after finishing them. (Mainly because I think otherwise I’d have to work both pieces opposite from their current working order, and that sounds…too hard.) Stay tuned on that one…