I was one of those new knitters who indiscriminately collected yarn – from the clearance bin at my local yarn store and the hobby lobby down the street. Once, when Target stocked some faux angora yarn in the one dollar section, I cleaned out the entire stock. During my yarn binges I never thought in terms of sweater quantities or projects in my knitting queue. I simply wanted more stash. I figured that all the other details, like what I would knit with my new acquisitions and when, would work themselves out.
A couple years into gorging myself on fiber, I had a stash large enough to fill a small closet; a ton of partially finished sweaters, hats, stuffed toys, and miscellany; and precious few completed projects. Many of the skeins I purchased in my punch drunk period got traded or donated, and I’ve since reformed. I only keep a small stash these days, and I always know what I am going to make from the yarn before I purchase it.
That doesn’t mean I am completely free of oddments. After all, I am a fickle knitter who doesn’t always like to stick to the plan. That often leaves me with the inevitable one or two balls of yarn – not enough for a substantial project, but also not enough to make destashing worthwhile. Every time I sift through my yarn baskets, I despair that these cast-offs are still there, lurking under a heap of neatly wound wool that I have earmarked for future projects. So in the spirit of the New Year, I’m working on some projects that will make a dent in my collection of misfit yarn.
My aim is to make knitting through the stash as painless as possible. I spent most of the last couple months inhaling sewing machine dust and knitting my fingers numb, so I’m craving mindless activity. The kind that lends itself to copious couch-sitting and television-watching and that seems to grow almost effortlessly from my needles during said sitting and watching.
After a little (emphasis on little, because Mama’s tired) pondering, I figured out the knitting cure for what ails me. Icord. Or idiot cord, as Elizabeth Zimmermann called it. I can’t think of anything more relaxing than pushing a few stitches back and forth across a needle, knitting each row. There’s so little to mess up, and the result – a squooshy woolen tube – holds so many possibilities.
Over the next several weeks, I’ll share some fun projects, but first, a little icord tutorial. It’s going to be a short one because knitting icord is ridiculously simple. You’ll need some yarn and a couple of double pointed needles in the size suggested on the yarn label. If you want an extra-dense cord, go down a couple of needle sizes. For a looser, more pliable cord, go up a couple needle sizes.
How to Knit Icord
Cast four stitches onto one of your needles. I prefer the long tail cast on.
Instead of turning your work, slide the stitches back toward the top of the needle.The yarn hanging from the left side of your stitches (right in the image above) is your working yarn.
Bring the yarn behind all four stitches and knit the next row. Make sure give your yarn a gentle tug after knitting the first stitch. This will help you avoid any ugly laddering.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
See? Icord is about as mindless as knitting can get, and after a few couch sessions of knitting icord, you’ll have a little stash ready to go for some of my upcoming tutorials.