One of the basics of knitting is knitting I-cord. I made a comment last week on Facebook about how I never use my DPNs. Milinda Paquette kindly reminded me the importance of DPNs if only for knitting i-cord. And i-cord is important in knitting. It is a versatile technique that can be used for straps, ties, and decorative accents on toys or edges. I-cord is almost too easy for its return on value. I-cord is like the bias strips equivalent in sewing. I have used i-cord for pumpkins stems, toy arms, elephant noses, ear flap ties, belts, ETC.
There are 2 easy ways to make i-cord: DPNs or knitting spool. Now, if you prefer to use DPNs, which I do, than the shorter the better (like the Hiyahiya 4 in. DPNs) because once you are done knitting a row you don't switch your left and right needles. Slide your stitches to the other end of your right hand needle and then switch your needles from right hand to left. Knit your stitches again, making sure to snug your first stitch. The tail pulls the stitches together and after about 3 rows you notice your knitting forms a tube. If you have a shorter DPN then you have less sliding. Be sure you snug that first stitch but DO NOT pull it too tight otherwise it will be too tight to knit the next row (this took me a while to learn and I hated i-cord until I learned to loosen up a bit). You can make your i-cord as thick as you want but you must knit with at least 3 stitches. If you need it smaller, than sub in a lighter weight yarn. You can make your own knitting spool with an old wooden thread spool and some nails. Spool knitting is fun and really great for kids. To adjust the size you will need a bigger spool and more nails but it is a great kid's craft.
You can also use i-cord as a totally awesome bind off. It is called attached icord and the edge is actually icord that you knit on as you bind off. Interweave has a great video. Attached I-cord is a great finish for blankets, sleeves, slippers and hats.