DIY Super Chunky iCord Yarn

A few years ago, I remember making my Mum a Katniss Everdeen-esque one-armed owl which I crocheted using some chain knit yarn. A bit like French knitting (as it was called when I was a kid) or iCord as it’s referred to a lot in knitting instructions lately. It was obviously machine manufactured but when knitted up it’s quite lightweight but bulky.

I’ve made a lot of stuff over the past few years holding yarns together to knit to a super chunky weight yarn as I do like wearing this type of garment but I got to thinking to trying to find some of this yarn I’d used years ago and having another knit with it. Many of the available super chunky/super bulky weight wool yarns are single ply roving type and prone to bobble and look really shoddy rather too quickly for my liking so a chain yarn might be the way forward, and I noticed my Mum’s cowl didn’t go ratty. I found that the pre-chained yarn though had long since been discontinued so my thoughts turned to having a go at making some myself. As they do really with most things.

I started playing with my yarn dolly at the beginning of lockdown last year but was getting nowhere fast and it was a bit of a strain on my hands so I looked into what was available gadget wise that could help. I went down a circular knitting machine loophole for some time and emerged with a knitting mill.

I bought the Tulip though there are other cheaper ones available that would do the job and this isn’t a product review as such anyway as I’d prefer not to go down what’s best or not as I’m not an expert, sponsored or I’d not want to trigger anyone suggestible to buying all the things. You can do this with a large wooden reel with pins knocked in, a yarn dolly or hand knit the cord if you like a long, slow and methodical process. I do usually but as I say, my hands don’t like this.

There’s a handy weight on this which helps to tension it and give a nice even cord. I clip up the balls as I go with a wonder clip.

I’m defo going to knit a jumper with it too, that’s the goal. I guesstimate it’ll take about 20 grapefruit sized balls.

Having been a knitter of socks for years now, I have amassed quite a lot of sock weight yarn and 4-ply scraps. I’d been saving them to make the Bee Keepers quilt by Tiny Owl Knits but I do have quite a battle with moths so thought it’s would be akin to throwing them a glorious picnic. Also it’s an heirloom project and I don’t have progeny to pass it on to so I thought last year that it would be good to start to make my own super bulky yarn which I like to use, have a slow project (this takes time too) and do a bit when I feel like it.

Some of the things that are working well for me in the process are:

• friction fusing the joined ends. I wet each end and rub them together between my palms to felt them into one.

• keeping the wound ball well away from the working ball – they want to form a double helix at any given opportunity

• starting and ending a ball with a plain mixer colour that will help when starting a new ball and getting a less visible join when it comes to knitting up (this is probably me just being fussy)

• recycling finer yarns from second hand or ill fitting knits, it’s a good way to mix it all in and get something uniform to knit with

• it will drop a stitch if it’s not kept an eye on. A crochet hook is essential to get things back on track. I’ve had to graft some of my earlier balls and mistakes so a knitters sewing needle is also a must for me.

• I don’t keep rethreading it up for each new ball but instead snip a thread and separate from the bottom between the machine and the wound ball and secure both ends. Leaving a long tail of single thread ensures I can work with that for the joining when it comes to knitting.

These photos show the incorporation of some olive coloured alpaca wool with the sock yarn to act as a base to tone down those brights such is my preference. It was an unsuccessful 4-ply knitting project that was perfect to use for this process.

Thanks for reading. If you give it a go you could use the hashtag #icordknitting on Instagram too perhaps? I think that’s what I’ll be using.