If you have ever made a draw-string bag then it is likely that you knitted an I-cord for the draw string. I have never been a fan of I-cord. Firstly I don’t really enjoy making it. Secondly, it is usually not quite right for one reason or another. It can be too big, too bulky, too stretch, or just too…. Kumihimo is currently one of the hottest new trends in beadwork. I recently decided to explore it’s applicability to knitting. I have had a knitted bag on display in the shop for as long as I have had the shop. I decided to pull it down, wash it and put it to use. When I pulled it down I discovered there wasn’t an appropriate drawstring on the bag. Fortunately there was plenty of yarn leftovers inside to make a drawstring, but only using Kumihimo braiding. There wasn’t enough for an I-cord. This dilemma is what got me thinking about braiding my drawstring.
I did a standard 8-cord braid. You can do a braid with more cords but not less. Depending on the type of board you are using you may be able to use as many as 36 cords to make a very thick, strong and sturdy cord. In this case I was using two different colors of yarn. I wanted to make a spiral pattern in my cord but goofed when I loaded the board. I have a broken pattern instead that looks more like hounds tooth. What is it they say, there are no mistakes, only design options? In this case I learned a new pattern for braiding. The more cords you use the more design options you have.
The negative part of using a braiding board to make a drawstring instead of knitting an I-cord is that the braiding does take longer. It is still an immensely portable technique though and you can take it with you to work on in those many fleeting idle moments that occur throughout the day. It is pretty easy when you get comfortable with the technique to figure out where you left off. That being said, I do need to add that the more cords you use the more confusing it can be. It can also be a little more confusing to pick up where you left off if you are doing a flat braid instead of a round braid. Didn’t I mention you can do a flat braid? Yes, you can do a flat braid with a square braiding board. You can do a round braid in either a round or square board but it is rather difficult to do a flat braid in a round board. It is important to know that you usually need at least ten cords to do a flat braid. The math side of my brain says you should be able to do it with as few as 6 cords but I haven’t had time to test the theory out yet.
Key points to remember:
1. Always use bobbins when braiding a cord to minimize tangling.
2. For round cord cut your strands at least three times your desired length, and two times your desired length for flat braid.
3. When doing a flat braid be sure to complete a full cycle before you put it down so you will know to start at the beginning of a cycle when you pick it up again.
4. Have fun!
The braid I have made is nice and sturdy, a bit stiffer than what I would have gotten from an I-cord, much stronger, and definitely thinner. My cord is about 5mm in diameter using 8 strands of about a DK weight yarn. So consider braiding your next draw string or any other cord you need to make for your knitting or crochet project.