Saturday, April 17, 2010

Double Applied I-Cord with Apologies to Elizabeth Zimmerman

Apologies to my husband whom I blamed for deleting photos of the blanket I made for Daughter #2. I found the photos on i-Photo!

I thought I would do a small tutorial on using I-cord to join two knitted fabrics. I could not find anything about this technique in Elizabeth Zimmerman's books, so I un-vented the technique myself. I later learned that Meg Swansen has a demonstration of this on one of her videos. Experience doing applied I-cord to an edge of fabric is helpful.

Getting ready: Pin the two fabrics together with the amount of ease you need to make the two pieces match.


Perhaps you can see that I am applying a double edging (the pink garter stitch strip with the purple knitted-on lace) to the blanket. The section on the middle left has already been applied with green yarn using I-cord. The upper middle shows the edging pinned to the blanket but not yet applied. There are three stitches on my (sharp points) double pointed needle. This is a three stitch I-cord. I simply cast on three stitches to begin.

Concept: The idea is to generate one stitch from each fabric being joined. In this case, I generated one stitch from the blanket and one stitch from the edging. I obtain easy and good stitches from the blanket, which was knit on the bias, I did a single crochet in the green yarn all the way around the blanket, doing one single crochet stitch in each garter stitch "valley" row.

STEP TWO: Picking up stitch from the edging.

I "generated" an I-cord stitch from the edging after working the three I-cord stitches. Using the working yarn from the left, I pulled the yarn through the slipped stitch edge of the edging using a second double pointed needle. I found that this all worked much easier with very sharp double pointed needles.

Put this new stitch on the right side of your working needle and knit it together with the second stitch (previously the first stitch) on the needle.


Do the same idea for the blanket edge. You have already knit the first (new) and second stitch on your needle together. You then knit the middle stitch of the I-cord on the needle. Then, you slip the third I-cord stitch.
Put your left needle under both loops of the single crochet edge of the blanket. Pull the working yarn through these loops so that you have one strand of yarn on the left needle as a fourth stitch. Put this stitch on the right needle.


Pass the slipped (third) stitch over the new stitch. Slide the stitches to the other end of the needle and repeat from the top.

This photo (ABOVE) was taken just after I slipped the third stitch over the new stitch. You can also see the single crochet edging on the blanket (left of center) and the edge of the pink and purple edging to the right of center.

Here is the corner of the completed blanket with the I-cord holding together the edging strip and the blanket. I think it gives a nice framed picture kind of look. The I-cord adds texture and depth to the blanket.

I am very proud of how the blanket turned out. As with most projects, there was a point at which I thought the entire project was stupid and should be tossed into the trash barrel.
Because the knitting of the squares was so easy (garter stitch squares on the bias), I concluded that I needed to have a very nice edging. I didn't want future generations to say the blanket was ugly or that great-grandmother really didn't have many knitting tricks up her sleeve.

I like how the squares go together to form x's and diamonds. The effect is of an optical illusion at some points.
Credit where credit is due to Cosmic the Knitting Kitty. He helps with blocking, sitting on the wet wool to help it dry and removing the pins holding the pointed edges of the blanket in place.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Keeping My Girl Warm

As a knitter and as a mother my main goal in life seems to be keeping my daughters warm. The main goal of my daughters, however, seems to be avoiding receiving un-stylish sweaters from their mother. Un-stylish translates as "anything mom would knit." They do accept hats, mittens and gloves, provided that they have approved the yarn and the style ahead of time. Daughter #1 also accepts socks--in certain colors and certain (plain) styles.

These smaller projects were not enough to fulfill my mother/knitter goal however. Four years ago I convinced Daughter #2 that she needed a blanket for when she went to college. I began to make a blanket on size 2.5mm needles, using leftover sock yarn. The blanket went slowly, since I needed to generate leftover sock yarn. Then, people began to give me their leftover sock yarn, but progress was still slow. Gradually the blanket grew and grew and my daughter, while in high school, kept the unfinished blanket on her bed. Click here for previous posts about the blanket.

Well, in September Daughter #2 left for college and the blanket still needed an edging!! There is nothing wrong with her memory, and she reminded me as we dropped her off at college, "Mom, where is my blanket!!??" Now, I knew that the weather wouldn't require a blanket until late October, when I finally finished the blanket.

Unfortunately, my husband's camera (or my husband) deleted the photos of the blanket that I had taken while it was blocking. This is a photo taken by a friend at The Sow's Ear, a much loved knitting and coffee shop. I think the sun shining through gives the blanket a nice effect.
I made a chart for Daughter #2 identifying the yarn in each square, for whom the socks were knitted and whether the yarn was donated. When she comes home from college, I will take better photos.

The blanket edging was a life time project in itself. Daughter #2 selected the edging colors while we were on vacation in 2008. She wanted a three colored edging, to give the blanket a framed and matted effect. I first knit miles of a 10 stitch garter stitch strip, with mitered corners. (The blanket is the size of a sheet for a long twin size bed.) That nearly drove me insane. In my blind need to find a more interesting stitch, I found a garter stitch lace diamond pattern, which I knit onto the garter stitch strip using a purple sock yarn. Although that was far more interesting to knit, it was twice as wide as the plain pink garter stitch and took about three times as long to knit.

I was ready to stop right there. Forget the green yarn my daughter had selected. But, promises are promises and mothers have to keep their promises. So, I determined to minimize the number of stitches using the green. I "un-vented" the double-applied-I-cord. If Elizabeth Zimmer could un-vent knitting techniques, I figured that I could un-vent something that she probably tried, but never published. I attached the pink/purple strip to the blanket using the green yarn and a four stitch I-cord, picking up one stitch on the edge of the blanket and one stitch on the edge of the edging. After a few fits and starts, I got into the rhythm and it worked!!

I delivered the blanket to my daughter's dorm in early December 2009, hoping to keep her cozy and warm from the brisk, frigid winter winds of Minnesota. Her bunk bed is right against the uninsulated windows of the room. Has she used it? No. The dorm heating system blasts out hot air 24 hours a day and she is always too hot. Does anyone see it? No. To make room for three girls in a room built for two, the beds are elevated with the desks and dressers underneath. No one can see what is on top of the bed. Does she love it? Yes--she treasures the blanket and would not part with it.

I guess, after all, what is most important is that we mother-knitters warm our children's hearts, even if we are unsuccessful at warming their bodies.