I-cord: Rampant Stag Necklace

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I have been knitting since the end of February 2011; I remember the date when I chose my weapons of scarf construction quite precisely, as we were having a jaunt over to Faversham because it was two days before my dad’s birthday and we went to get him some nice food for that. I had a whole kg of Point 5 to use, and a gorgeous kit to tempt me along. The lady who runs the LYS there is who I came to with both my what the hell do I do with this hooky thing? questions when I wanted to crochet back in June 2009, and who was a safe pair of hands for my I think I'll start knitting with a scarf concerns. And this is a pretty long way of saying that I’ve not been yarncrafting that long and need the right nudge to get going with anything new.
I had been stalking the woodsy association since about the time of its release, as the funky antler charms whispered to me of many potential uses. The fact that they would play nicely with cute wristwarmers that I might also make at some point was more of a bonus than a reason to get that pattern. So when I saw the news that the pattern has lost its exclusivity with KnitPicks, I immediately asked if directions for making the charms are included. And that’s a pretty long way of explaining why this was the perfect pattern for boosting me into success with i-cords, which I previously failed at without an interesting project to work it into.
So here come the instructions
Materials Needed
1 Copy of the Woodsy Association pattern (I will be referencing this pattern, so it’s a must if you want to do this project)
10g or more of 100% cotton yarn (I used Patons Mercerised DK-weight in shade Limestone, previously overdyed with Lift instant tea using a Kool Aid method for that shiny beige look cos that was the suitable yarn that I had to hand)
2 needles in the size recommended for your yarn (I used 4mm dpns, but you can also use straights)
Internet access (I’ll also be referring to a video)
Sewing needle (I used one with a large eye and slightly pointed tip)
Crochet hook (only if you can crochet a little and happen to have one the same size as your needles, don’t worry otherwise)
The crown measurement of the recipient (for that custom fit)
Something small and snippy (I used slightly blunt pointed scissors)
Water (I stood by the kitchen tap while wearing the final piece)
Moments of quiet (it feels rude to have people talking at me cos I’m in the zone)
Model (for blocking)
Skills Used
Casting on firmly
Knitting in the round
Kfb/increase 1
Ssk
K2tog
If you don’t have even a nodding acquaintance with ALL of these skills, do not try this method
Method
Cast on the number of stitches specified in the pattern then, leaving your empty needle in the last stitch, knit the first round without turning. Work all subsequent rounds by slipping stitches to the other end of the needle, twisting the hanging yarn around the back to reach the start, and the knitting the next round. If you’re working on straight needles or looking as puzzled as I did at this point in written instructions, I hope that this video will help you as much as it did me.
Continue as the pattern directs until you hit the first SSK. If your stitches are too tight to work a successful SSK, don’t panic (like I did!). Slipping the stitches back and forth a few times (I counted 3) will loosen them up nicely. Once your slips are loose enough to place your empty needle at the correct angle, work the SSK, and then follow the pattern to complete the main antler. If you get distracted and lose track of how many plain rounds you’ve just work (I got an event invite while reading the pattern on my iPad), it’s better to work one too many than too few. Don’t try and spot the extra round on the right antler pictured, please.
Once the yarn tail was snipped on the main antler, I picked up the stitches for the prongs on one needle, and then slid the needle through until the were near the right tip. I then inserted the other needle into the first stitch, and then just knit that tightly by pulling out the tail after the stitch was complete. Follow the pattern to the end, weave in all but the first end on each antler, snip trailing yarn.
If you can crochet; start with a tail of at least 6 inches, work chain stitches loosely until chain almost fits comfortably over your head (crown measurement plus 1 inch), then work another 2 inches (10 stitches, in my case). Snip yarn at roughly 6 inches, expand last stitch to make a loop large enough for starter tail to easily fit through, close loop around this tail. Knot the tails for security, leave ends.
If you can’t crochet; follow chain instructions using one or two stitches of plain i-cord.
Moving back to the charms, arrange them so that the prongs are on the inside, sew one antler lightly to the base of the other. Position necklace chain/cord so that the front middle comes to a point, sew first one and then the other antler on through the middle of this stitch. Snip ends.
Place the necklace naturally on your model, heavily wet your fingers (with water, naughty), and scrunch the antlers in your wet hand until they’re as firm as you want them, gently manipulate them back into shape, and leave to dry naturally. You may want to shape the antlers further when fully dry; I did a bit more after taking the photo. They’ll move about as you wear them, so don’t be alarmed if you also need to snip ends a bit closer for your tastes.
You will know that your finished necklace looks professional if you’re asked where you got it, as happened when mine was as pictured. Now that I’ve used the DK I had to make this experiment, I know that I’ll need some 4-ply to make an earring that matches without being massive. We’re off to Hythe tomorrow, and there be a yarn shop there. Housemates know what I’m looking for, so it’s not a devious plan.

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