Applied I-Cord: A love affair

My first impression of applied i-cord wasn’t really a positive one. I worked it on a sweater I made for my grandmother in 2006:

The i-cord around the neckline was tight, and in the Silky Wool it didn’t really provide a stable enough edge for the buttons. So I didn’t really give it another thought after that–none of the patterns I happened to want to knit used it, so I just forgot about it. When I was knitting Bryony this summer, I came across a bit of a stumbling block when I realized that I liked the way the tank front looked when it didn’t have an edging, but that the back neckline was just going to flop without one.

So how to work a neckline just on the back neck? I considered knitting an attached 1×1 rib border in a way I’d used in some lace projects, pulling my working yarn through as if I were picking up a stitch with it before working a pair of rows. (This technique made a later appearance in Twinflower, incidentally.) But I didn’t think the ribbing would taper properly, and I worried that it would be too bulky.

Enter applied i-cord. The ends taper naturally, you can work it on only the back of the neckline, and I figured out the trick to making it work without a pucker. Now, with so much more knitting experience under my belt, I realized that the difference between row and stitch gauge was the culprit in my grandma’s sweater: You need to pick up enough stitches to accommodate the row gauge you’re working the i-cord on. When I picked up around the neckline, at 1 per stitch, and then worked a tight i-cord, I was limiting myself to an insufficient number of rows and the fabric puckered.

So I picked up more on Bryony’s neck edge, and it looked beautiful.

I also decided to try my new-found insight and work the i-cord on the armholes, as well. I didn’t want a ribbed edge detracting from the clean lines of the cable and faced hem, and I was flush with my success on the neck edging. Again, they worked like a charm on the armholes. They tightened everything up nicely, without puckering, and provided stability on a garment section that gets a lot of tugging.

Here’s an armhole before the edging:

Loose, floppy, likely to expose a bunch of undergarment. And after:

I’m glad I gave it another chance!

13 thoughts on “Applied I-Cord: A love affair

  1. I agreed – I discovered applied i-cord when I made a Manu sweater and it gives everything such a clean finish!

  2. Wonderful timing on this post! Thanks for the smart one who works these things out for the rest of us..

  3. What a difference!

    I’ve never used it – perhaps I should give it a try.

  4. Oh, I looooooooove applied I-cord. The finished edge looks so TIDY.

  5. Lovely!

    So if it’s not 1:1, how do you determine how many rows of i-cord to do? Is it a simple case of swatching your i-cord and then doing the math?

  6. Thank you for another interesting and informative post! Seems like a perfect use for this technique and leaves a lovely clean edge.

  7. Wow, I wouldn’t have thought of this, but it looks perfect as you’ve used it. What a great idea! Thanks.

  8. I have to admit…applied i-cord makes me swoon! 🙂

  9. I just figured out the whole i cord row gauge to stitch gauge thing too — my most recent design (not yet published, FO being mailed tomorrow to the mag) has cabled applied i cord at the sleeve cuffs & hem, and regular i cord at the neckline.

  10. Beautiful! I love how applied i-cord makes everything so tidy.

  11. this is a technique i have yet to use but want to try immediately!

  12. What a beautiful sweater!

    I love the finished look of applied i-cord. It really gives a lovely tailored look to many projects. Thanks so much for sharing yours.

  13. I’ve been considering this edging for my Rhinebeck sweater, though I’m afraid it may not be so elegant in my heavy aran weight yarn.

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