As our Stitch Lab sessions come to a close, we think it’s worth it to note that sometimes what is “finished” really isn’t finished at all. Sometimes even a perfectly executed project can evolve. Perhaps that minimalist cardigan would become more practical with the addition of a pocket. Maybe the curl of a stockinette edge is less than charming—or you missed the part of the pattern that stated to simultaneously place buttonholes in the band.
Whether your improvement is practical or decorative, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover how one of these afterthought additions can be easily (and cleverly) achieved, without compromising a bit of the original design.
I-cord is an easy addition to a variety of projects. It can be added on to weight a stockinette edge, or attached along the edge of a sweater to create button loops. Use the same color as your project, or choose a coordinating color to brighten up a basic, as seen here with some swatches done in Shibui Baby Alpaca (colorways Caffeine and Nude make for lovely baby things, don’t they?)
To do an afterthought i-cord edge, you start by casting on two stitches onto your desired double-pointed needles. It’s very important to use a double pointed needle for this, since you’ll be sliding your stitches back and forth on the single needle instead of turning the work.
Next, without turning the needle, you’ll knit the first two stitches — if you’ve done an i-cord before this will seem familiar. If you haven’t, just trust us — we know the yarn coming from the wrong direction seems weird, but it works!
To add your ‘third’ stitch, you’ll slide the left-hand needle into the fabric and loop the yarn around, as if the picked up edge is your third stitch. Knit this as normal:
Then, you’ll have 3 stitches on your needle. Slide them from the left end of the right-hand needle to the right end, and knit them, bringing the yarn around in the back, like you would for standard i-cord.
At this point, you’ll slip the middle stitch over the furthest left stitch (the one that is connected to the edge of your piece,) to return you to two stitches. Repeat these steps and you’ll start to see an i-cord forming along the edge.
To make a button loop, you’ll keep your three stitches (don’t slip the middle over the left-most stitch) and just knit standard i-cord away from the piece for a moment. For these buttonholes, we kept the i-cord only three stitches tall.
When you’re ready, connect it back into the fabric by slipping that middle stitch over and picking up your third stitch through the fabric. This forms your button hole loop!
Did you know there is a proper way to sew on a button? While you might believe you simply criss-cross the thread through and around the fabric, you’ll have much more success with buttons raised above their base by adding a thread shank. With knits, you want to have a shank so that less stress is put on the actual fabric, which can stretch out of shape.
Start by figuring out the placement of your buttons and sewing them on as normal:
After your button is sewn on, lift by the button and gather the fabric in your hand, bringing the needle up through the back of the fabric, and through the first eye of the button.
Bring it back down through the other eye, but don’t catch any of the fabric yet.
Wrap the thread several times tightly around the base of the button, then bring the needle down, catching some of these tight wraps before it goes back through the fabric — this forms your shank.
Secure your thread on the other side of the fabric and your button will be good to go — and ready to stand significant wear! Slip it through your i-cord buttonhole and it should look something like this:
There are so many ways to neaten up your knits or add things on as you need them! What other how-to topics would you like to see us cover here on the blog?