Monday, July 16, 2018

I-Cord with a Hook, Part 5: Using I-Cord as a Foundation for Crochet

The techniques in this series were developed for I-cord made with a hook, but many of them can be adapted to I-cords made by other methods.

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Welcome back to our series on making I-cord with a crochet hook. Here’s what we’ve covered so far:
Part 1 - Three techniques for making a Better Basic I-cord: Longtail Cast On, Afterthought Column, and Loop-by-Loop Bind Off.
Part 2 – Self-Buttoning I-cord 
Part 3 – Open-Ended I-cord 
Part 4 – Seamless-Looking Circular I-cord 

Today we’ll talk about working crochet stitches into I-cord.



I-Cord as Foundation Row

I-cord makes a smashing foundation row for crochet - it's flexible, elastic, easy to work into, and looks good from both sides.

An I-cord foundation can be subtle or bold, depending on the colour used. Either way, it looks great:

Reversible, flexible, versatile I-cord

Where to Insert the Hook

There are two main factors to consider when working into I-cord:

  • How many loops you want to work into (2 or 1)
  • The direction those loops are going in relation to the stitches around them.

While there's no right or wrong way to insert the hook, you may notice slight variations in stitch appearance based on the above factors.

As you can see in the photo below, I-cord is made up of rows of interlocking Vs, with each complete row of Vs representing one column of I-cord stitches.

The Vs can point either right or left, depending on how you look at them:

Vs pointing in both directions

Should You Insert the Hook into 2 Loops or 1?

This will depend on your desired results.

Inserting the hook under 2 loops will:
  • Give a sturdy join between cord and crochet
  • Flatten the I-cord slightly
  • Occupy, or use up, an entire column of stitches (or Vs)

Inserting the hook under 1 loop will:
  • Give a more delicate join between cord and crochet
  • Allow the I-cord to remain more rounded
  • Occupy, or use up, half a column of stitches (or 1 leg of the Vs)

Tip: If you're working into 2 loops, start with an odd-count I-cord (eg 3, 5, 7 stitches) - it will fold neatly in half and give a better appearance than an even-count cord. (I like to use a 5-stitch I-cord.)

Working into 2 Loops - Direction of Vs

When working into 2 loops, if you insert the hook under a leftward-pointing V, it's like working back across a row of crochet in a back-and-forth project. (I call this "against the loops", for lack of a better name.)

If you insert your hook under a rightward-pointing V, it's like working spiral rounds in crochet, where all the stitches are going the same way. (I call this "with the loops".)


Stitches worked "with the loops" will sit closer to the front of the I-cord, making the I-cord look a tiny bit smaller.

Stitches worked "against the loops" will sit back a bit, allowing more I-cord to show. They'll also expose a little more of the I-cord loops between the stitches, as seen below:


Remember, there's no wrong way to insert your hook. You can work into any loops you like - just be careful that you stick with the same loops all the way around, or your I-cord will twist.

Working into 1 Loop - Direction of Vs

Here's where the terminology can get a little confusing.

Because the Vs go in both directions, there's no way to say whether a single strand is a "back loop" or a "front loop":


So we'll have to pick a direction - in this case "against the loops", or with the Vs pointing left - and use that as our frame of reference for back loop vs. front loop.

As you can see in the samples below, the "BLO" stitches sit more tidily into the work, while the "FLO" stitches seem to stretch out the I-cord:


Conclusion: Whether working into 1 loop or 2, choose the loop(s) that give the desired appearance.

Do I Have to Work into Every Stitch?

Nope! Working into I-cord is just like working into a starting chain or foundation row. You can skip stitches or work more than one stitch into a stitch - whatever your project demands.



Gauge

As with any starting chain or foundation stitch, you may find that the gauge differs between the foundation and the main body of the work. My own I-cord foundations often have a tighter gauge than crochet stitches worked into them with the same hook size; your mileage may vary.

A tighter I-cord foundation is not a bad thing. If you're making a top-down cowl or sweater, or a bottom-up hat, it can draw in the edge attractively, and help prevent stretching out.

But if you want the I-cord gauge to closely match the crochet stitch gauge, here are some options:

If I-cord is too tight for the crochet (crochet curves outwards when cord is laid flat):
  • Work the I-cord with a larger hook and/or the crochet stitches with a smaller hook
  • Skip some I-cord stitches (as needed) when working into the I-cord

If I-cord is too loose for the crochet (crochet cups inwards when cord is laid flat):
  • Work the I-cord with a smaller hook, and/or the crochet stitches with a larger hook
  • Work more than one crochet stitch (as needed) into your I-cord stitches

Summary

Treat an I-cord foundation as you would any crochet foundation: simply choose a loop or set of loops to work into, be consistent when working into those loops, and adjust hook, stitch count, or tension as needed.

Swatching is always a good idea, too. :)

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In the next (and final!) I-cord post, we'll learn how to use I-cord as a finishing edge for crochet.

Also coming soon: a free pattern featuring an I-cord foundation and finishing edge, with lacy crochet in between:

Coming soon: the I-C Cowl

Until then, happy crocheting and I-cording!

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Summer Rides and a Yarn Swap

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!

Today I enjoyed the freedom of riding past well-decked barns:


The freedom to stop and photograph flowers by the roadside:

Heliopsis

Common Milkweed

Hoary Vetch

Soapwort or Bouncing Bet

Wild Bergamot
The freedom of the road:


And the freedom to hang colourful laundry out to dry:


(Hanging out laundry may not seem very exciting, but clothesline-banning is shockingly widespread in the Land of the Free. I'm grateful to live in a village that lets me air my clean laundry.)

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Here are more ride photos, all taken in the last couple of weeks:

Fleabane

Rough-Coated Cinquefoil

Baaaaa.....

A favourite tree

Turkey feather caught in the grass

Wild roses

Hay bales stored in what a friend used to call "the big barn" 

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Two Sundays ago I rode over to the Wisconsin River....

Tributary stream crossed on the way

The Wisconsin River, showing the effects of recent heavy rain

Tallulah trying to get a drink

 Fascinatingly terse sign glimpsed on the way home

Crown Vetch, corn, wooded hills, and blue skies

Isn't Wisconsin beautiful? :)

Tallulah riding point

Noble trees

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And from last week:

Wild daylilies

Noontime shadow

Amish buggy with interesting shadows of its own

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Kathy B of compassionknit recently hosted a fun swap. Participants were to exchange a button, something red-white-and-blue, and yarn.

Kathy drew my name, and here's what she sent me:

A cool eagle button, a fun patriotic dishcloth...

... and a GORGEOUS sock blank!

Thanks again Kathy! I've never worked with a sock blank before. It will be fun to see what I can make from it.

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Though my photos all look sunny and bright, we've had plenty of thunderstorms, grey cloudy days, and rain. (Lots of rain.) But that's how summer goes in Wisconsin.

How's your summer going so far?

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

On the Cusp of Summer

How did it get to be the middle of June? Spring has flown past so quickly that I've fallen behind (again!) on posting cycling photos.

It's been an odd spring this year - late to start, and with temperatures extremely mercurial. The final week of May was sweltering, with day after day of 90+ degrees. Lilacs came and went like a purple flash, and many other flowers were thrown off schedule by the unseasonable heat.

Allergies are a doozy this year - all the most sneeze-inducing trees and grasses seem to be seeding at once. Between allergy-induced brain fog and menopausal brain fog, I feel as though I've been barely functional for the last few weeks. But I see by my photos that I've taken a few rides during that time, so grab a cup of something hot or cold (as befits your weather), and get ready for lots of pictures.

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Way back in the middle of May, on a day of bright blue skies and cold wind, I saw red-velvet leaves growing on a shady bank:


The first wild geranium, pale and shivering:


A small forest of leafy spurge:


And asparagus!


(Lots of asparagus.)


Those jersey pockets sure come in handy sometimes. :)

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A week later, things were heating up. A shot of refreshing green on a hot sticky day:


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On Memorial Weekend, it was hotter still.

I found a new-to-me wildflower:

Fringed Puccoon

Felt patriotic as I climbed a hill and rode past a flag-adorned fence:


Enjoyed a bit of Americana:


And traveled round a favourite bend in the road:


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Memorial Day, a sizzling 95 degrees. Over the last few years I've grown to like riding in really hot weather, especially when the humidity is low, as it was that evening.

Shadow shot:


Wild geraniums looking cool in the shade:


Locust tree in bloom:


Vine-wreathed fence on a country road:


Deer sightings were plentiful that evening:



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A week later, temperatures had dropped sharply. On a chilly Sunday ride in early June, I found oodles of wildflowers:

From left to right: Spiderwort (top), Hoary Puccoon (bottom), Columbine, Balsam Groundsel


A  bug on a leaf:


More wildflowers:

Clockwise from upper left: Dame's Rocket, Wild Rose, Wild Geranium, Golden Alexanders, Common Yarrow

Some horses at pasture were startled by my passing, and ran thundering across the field while I fumbled for the camera:


Red-winged blackbirds, young and old, were holding a concert in the marsh:



Along came a road-hogging piece of farm equipment:


Wildflowers spotted in the last two miles of the ride:

Clockwise from upper left: Mystery member of the pea family, Meadow Anemone,
Penstemon, Buttercup

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And that brings us nicely up to today. A truly gorgeous day it was, windy-warm and blue-skied - the kind of day that gives June a good name, and makes me grateful to be alive and riding in such a beautiful place.

Yep, the sky really was this blue:


Windmills turning on the high prairie:


Giant hogweed flourishing on a shady verge:


A favourite barn, with decoration:


A lovingly-preserved one-room schoolhouse:


The biggest collection of farm buildings I've seen anywhere (so big that the only way to shoot them all is from a mile up the road):


Buttercups and bicycle spokes:


Blue flag iris growing wild in a wet ditch:


A good day for a ride.

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It's nearly 9 o'clock in the evening as I write this post, and the sky is still fully light. Rosy clouds drift like bits of sheer ribbon over the house, and the western sky glows with an opal flame.

O wondrous almost-summer!


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