Free Jewelry Knitting Pattern: Chunky I-Cord Statement Necklace
I love the look of bold statement necklaces, but often have difficulty finding the right one for me. Often the necklaces are too long (or just *too* bold), or I don't like the decoration on them, or the colors don't really match my wardrobe. But by using a simple knitted i-cord, anyone can make unique statement necklaces that are tailored to their personal taste and style. Below are directions for making three different designs of statement necklaces using basic i-cords.
The Basics of I-cords
I-cords are one of the basic building blocks of knitting. This simple technique creates a rounded knitted cord that can be used in a number of ways, and one of my favorites is in making jewelry.
For i-cords, you always use double pointed needles, or "dpns". As you knit across your cast on stitches, the stitches on the edge are going to wrap around to create a rounded shape or cord. For the best results, I suggest pulling tight on your working yarn after knitting your first and last stitches so you don't have large loops on the edges.
How to knit an I-cord
Choosing Your Yarn and Needles
I used leftover yarn from other projects for my i-cord necklaces. If you're like me, when you lay out your leftovers, you'll notice patterns in the colors and textures of yarns that you use. You'll see some interesting color combinations within your pile of yarn that probably represent the colors you like to wear. In my case, I had a lot of purple and gray yarn that I chose to use for my necklace.
For these i-cord necklaces, you can use any weight of yarn, but I would recommend that you use fibers that will be comfortable lying against your neck (most soft acrylics, merino, silk, and cotton) and that you do not choose anything that might become itchy next to the skin.
I used one size of double pointed needles for all my i-cords, regardless of the weight of the yarn, and made them all the same size by adjusting the number of stitches I cast on. However, you could also change your needle size for the weight of your yarn or use the same needles and number of stitches and just have your cords be different thicknesses.
I used #5 dpns for all my cords. This made a very tight knit when using my thicker yarn, but my cords were all about the same size. Below are listed the number of stitches I cast on for each yarn weight:
3 sts - Aran, heavily worsted and most worsted weight yarns
4 sts - dk and lighter worsted weight yarns
5 to 6 sts - sport weight and sock yarn
You can play around a bit and see what size needles and cast ons work best for your collection of yarn. For reference, here are the yarns I used in my necklace:
Bernat Super Value in lavender
Caron Simply Soft in gray heather
Caron Simply Soft in deep plum heather (I made two cords with this yarn)
Caron Simply Soft in sticks and stones (variegated brown)
Knitpicks Swish dk in Squirrel Heather
Naturally Caron Country in silver
Designing Your Necklace
I suggest you choose a design for your necklace before you begin to knit. The design will help to determine the length you need for your i-cords, where you attach your i-cords, and the best way to finish your necklace.
Add Some Pins as an Accent
I love adding some shine and glitz to this necklace with the addition of a grouping of pins (you could also use buttons or vintage clasp earrings). For this necklace, I knit my i-cords to be 24 inches in length, but you can use your favorite necklace as a sample to determine the length you want for yours (you can also add a chain or ribbon to the back for comfort and to adjust the length. See "Finishing Your Necklace" below).
I would suggest a light blocking of your i-cords before you begin assembling your necklace. Pin each cord down (dry) to your blocking board, with the backside or seam of your i-cord facing the board (if you can tell which side is the back). Make sure each cord is pinned down straight. Spray each cord with water until very damp and let dry. This should prevent the cords from twisting as you wear your necklace.
To support the weight of the additional decoration, you should stitch your cords together in the area where you are placing your jewelry to create a base for your pins or buttons. Working with a needle and thread, stitch from the back and through the width of your i-cords, tacking them to each other until they are secure. This will also keep your i-cords getting tangled with the added elements and stop your jewelry from twisting to the back.
One Knot, Two Knots, Three Knots
One great way to create a bold necklace and show off the different colors in your yarns is to simply knot your i-cords together. You can make one knot in the center, or wear it to the side as an accent. Or make two knots, one of each side, and let the center cords hang loose. Or use three knots in a row to make a chunky statement necklace.
One thing to remember is that each knot is going to use up some of your i-cord length. I knotted 6 i-cords, each 24 inches long, in a series of three knots. My resulting knotted piece was about 13 inches long. You might want to play around with some sample cords to see what knots and length you want to use before starting your finished piece, but you can also adjust the length by adding some chain or a separate cord to the back of your necklace.
Braiding Your I-cords to Make a Unique Necklace
I chose to braid my i-cords for my necklace. I came up with a unique way to braid them together to interweave the colors from my cords.
I started with 7 i-cords (you can use any multiple of 3 plus one additional cord), each 24 inches long (but you can vary the length). I pinned them to my blocking board, paying some attention to how my colors were laid out when I started.
First step, take the two cords from the right hand side and move them over the three cords in the middle. (if you are using only four cords, just move one to the middle. If you are using 10 cords, move 3 to the middle). This will move the center three cords to the right.
Step 2 - take the two cords on the left and move them to the center. Follow the photo for Steps 1 and 2.
Step 3 - again take only the two outer cords on the right and move them to the center. Then take the two cords from the left and move them to the center. Continue braiding your cords together from the right, then the left.
As you continue to weave your cords together, you will see that the third i-cord on the right gets paired with a different color each time, thus intermixing your i-cords through the braid. I like how this mixes up the colors and textures in a subtle, but interesting way.
The resulting braid is fun and bold. I would suggest mixing your lighter and darker colors when you lay them out to begin. Otherwise, your first few twists will have all light colors on one side, and all dark on the other. It will take a few steps for them to start to intermix.
Finishing Your Necklace
Using a needle and thread, sew your i-cords together in a bunch at each end of your necklace. Start about an inch to an 1 1/2 from the end of your cords and work from the back of your necklace to tack your cords together firmly and securely. Continue sewing your cords together to the end of your necklace. (If you are braiding your cords together, you may want to tack your starting end together before you begin to braid).
Optional - Take some wide ribbon and wrap it around the end to cover your cord. Then sew up the ribbon seam and tack it to your end.
You can sew on either a chain or a thinner ribbon as a closure for your necklace. This will allow you to adjust the length of your necklace and make for a more comfortable strap across the back of your neck. A thinner cord will also not interfere with your hair or the collar of your clothing.
I really love my finished necklace. I hope I've given you some ideas for using i-cords to create a great statement necklace!
Copyright © 2014 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.