Do you love icords? I do!* But they take such a long time to knit, I don't make them as often as I'd like. The Prym Mini Knitting Mill seemed like the perfect solution - a semi-automated way to make lots of icord very quickly. Of course, I couldn't resist buying one to try it out.
I had a few teething problems with my first attempts - the start was very messy and the end came unravelled before I could get it all off the hooks. Online reviews showed I wasn't the only one to find it tricky at first. After figuring it out, it's totally worth the effort. You get a neat icord in a tiny fraction of the time it would take to knit - you can whizz through a ball of yarn in a couple of minutes. So if you want to make an icord without hours of knitting, here are a few tips for using one of these gagdets without making the same mistakes:
Picture 1: Remember to thread the working yarn through the lower guide before threading it through the central tube and attaching the weight. The weight will apply an even tension and make for a neater icord, and is highly recommended. If you require a long icord, the weight will not be of benefit once it's on the floor - at this point I stand on the tail to maintain the tension, but you could re-tie it on the icord closer to the knitting mill. Note that in this image I'm holding the working yarn simply to show the way it's threaded - it will need some slack when knitting, or the handle won't turn!
Pictures 2 and 3: For the first round of knitting, you must turn the handle really really slowly and to manually slip the yarn over the second and fourth hook so that it is not picked up. This may seem counter-intuitive, but have faith! If it looks like my pictures, it's going to work
Picture 4: Once all four hooks have picked up the yarn, you can start to speed up. If possible, knit the whole icord in one sitting to maintain the tension.
To finish: It is necessary to 'knit' to the end of the yarn in order to get the yarn off all of the hooks (keep turning the handle until it falls through the central tube) and then to sew the stitches closed. For this reason, you may need to knit too much yarn and then undo it. Don't try to pull it off the last hook - trust me, this will not work!
It's worth noting that the Mini Mill I'm using is suitable for sock / 4 ply yarn. It can manage a smooth DK weight yarn with a high twist, but anything which is likely to snag on those tiny hooks probably will! Other sizes are available but they won't make an icord, they are for knitting tubular items like socks or hats (I'd like to try making legwarmers this way). If you want to make a chunky icord with a thick yarn I would recommend using a lucet - find the tutorial here.
* Previous posts include tutorials on making knitted icord, icords with a lucet and adding an icord border onto a finished edge. I used an icord to cover my headphones, and two of my published patterns include them - Whimsical Cowl (free blog pattern) and The Enormous Triangle Ponshawl (PDF pattern download).
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