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.


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


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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  1. Wow.. using the i-cord as a beginning is a brilliant idea! What a neat rim for a boys crocheted cap, wouldn't it be? You really are something. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  2. I-cord always makes such a nice finish to an edge.

  3. It's all so well explained and nicely photographed, Sue. I love the fresh colours you've used!

  4. Thanks for showing us how to use the crocheted i-cord as a foundation, Sue,...for so many projects...exciting possibilities! xx

  5. I LOVE i cord edging. Thank you for the crochet way!

  6. The only I-cording I've done was to create a bicycle - with thread, VERY tiny stitches - but you sure come up with some creative and beautiful uses for it in yarn!

  7. PS: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your header flower photo!


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