I have a rather nifty new toy, that being a little gadget that takes yarn at one end and produces 4-stitch i-cord from the other, in a fashion much more rapid than knitting the stuff myself. I am in favor of this, as one of the things that can cause me to not do a project is the direction to CO 3 and knit i-cord for any length longer than an inch or so.
My particular gadget is called an Embellish Knit!, and it’s made of purple plastic. It has four little hooks that circle a center well and go up and down as they rotate; the interaction of these two motions, plus a clever system of latch hooks, makes i-cord (or idiot cord, if you’re a traditionalist and/or not politically correct). It’s a lot like the spool knitting that was presented to me as a rainy day activity when I was a kid, but rendered much quicker by The Wonders of Automation. I was able to make 5 yards of cord–Lord knows how long that would have taken me by hand–in about 5 minutes.
The gadget is quite nifty, and does what it advertises, but it is not, naturally, completely perfect. The practice yarn that came with it is nasty cheap acrylic, though I can’t blame them for that. You can’t use anything heavier than roughly sport-weight yarn in it; the packaging actually says that using worsted-weight and heavier can damage it. There’s no way to rig it to do 3-stitch cord, though I suspect that could be done with a little hand manipulation, and would still be quicker than knitting with needles. Getting the cord started is an amazing pain in the ass, especially as the directions don’t provide a diagram of what the first round should look like, and the automation tends to screw up for the first few rounds because the yarn is wrapped instead of straight. One also needs to keep an eye on it as one cranks, lest an individual hook mess up and cause a dropped stitch or a bind. Starting off requres a rather long tail–long enough to go all the way through the machine and be clamped by the little weight provided; this is farily wasteful but can be mitigated by starting off in waste yarn and then adding in the desired yarn. It also produces the best cord with yarn that’s about sock-weight; #10 crochet cotton made a cord that was airy but tolerable, but I imagine embroidery floss, one of their suggested yarns, would be unacceptably loose.
Still, as gadgets go it was well worth $16.