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Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s Tendril Necklace is a knockout—and not just because it’s a quick-knit one-skein wonder!

I love that it’s a different way to show off our knitting prowess, particularly applicable for August weather that’s far too hot for sweaters and shawls. And as an enthusiast of the interesting technical details of knitting, I love even more that the design uses i-cord for something new and fun.

The I-cord Ties

The first and last sections of the Tendril necklace are straight-up, standard i-cord. No matter how tightly you pull the yarn, the first stitch of i-cord can look at a little stretched out and sloppy. I also have a heck of a time measuring the length, when I’m working i-cord. A bit of water or steam combined with some wiggling take care of both these issues.

When working the first tie, before you start the center bit, I recommend getting your i-cord wet or steaming it, and then once it’s dry give it a bit of a wiggle—stretching it out a bit, and running your hands along it to encourage it to curl up. You’ll find it behaves itself a little better—and as a bonus—any loose or untidy stitches will have neatened up. 

If you’re a careful counter or if you use a row counter, you can keep track of rows when working the second tie, to match the first tie in length. But if you find tracking i-cord rows tiresome (I do!), do the wet-and-wiggle trick and measure the second tie against the first by eye. 

Dividing for the Center Section

The center section still uses the i-cord technique, but differently: you work back and forth in rows, more traditionally, knitting the stitches of the starting i-cord, working across the center stitches in pattern, and then slipping the last few stitches of each row. This creates the same effect as i-cord: each time, the stitches are only knitted from the front, and the yarn is pulled across the back to close the cord up. 

There are two differences in how the top and bottom i-cord edges are handled. When you’re working a RS row, the stitches of the bottom edge are worked twice in succession, before completing the row. This adds more length to the bottom edge, so it hangs neatly and curves nicely. 

And there’s a twisted stitch worked at the edge of the top-most i-cord stitches. This is so that the top edge of the necklace stays tidy when you drop the stitches. It’s not needed at the bottom edge because gravity keeps those stitches in place.

To set yourself up for the center portion, there’s a funky little step to do: making a “Fork.”

In the first row of the Fork, you’re on the RS. You work the first four stitches twice (this is the first of those extra rows), and then stop. You’re at the midpoint of the stitches, with four on the right needle and four on the left. You need to swing the left hand needle around, to reverse the position of those stitches, so that the purl side is at the front. Yes, really!

Before! I’ve used different colored-needles so you can see that the needles don’t change position, you just twist the left one around … 

 … so that the purl bumps of those last four stitches are visible. Nell Ziroli has a handy video of this maneuver here (and pasted above!).

Ta-da! Now you’re set up for the center section.

Working the Center Section

Because they’re short, it’s easy to zone out and lose track of the center section rows. I found it helpful to keep track of the twisted stitches—most easily counted on the WS, as they show as knit stitches there.

With WS facing: The most reliable way to count rows is to keep track of the the column of twisted stitches.

I also watched for the gaps in the ladder. When I hold the piece with RS facing, and stretch it out, as shown in the photo below, you can see that the strands of yarn running between first four stitches and the rest are grouped into pairs, with gaps in between. The gap is created by that sneaky double-working of the first four stitches of the RS row. 

With RS facing: Look for the gaps in the “ladders”

When The Center Section is Done

When you reach the end of the center section, and it’s time to rejoin for the second i-cord tie, you need to turn those stitches back around, in much the same way, so that the knit side is facing once again. The only difference is that you turn the needle the opposite way. 

Before the twist! Purl side of last four stitches is visible …

… and after. All knits!

And with that, you’re ready! Go forth and Tendril!

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About The Author

Kate Atherley is a teacher, designer, author and technical editor. She’s also the publisher of Digits & Threads, a magazine all about Canadian fibre and textile arts.


  • I wanted to try something like this for the Sophie scarf but I never could figure out how to get the i-cord to look right. Now I know and I will definitely use this technique, thank you!

  • Thanks so much for this. I noticed there was a question about the fork in The Lounge. Great answer! I’ll be knitting this as soon as I knit a few dozen more white board cleaners (mini dishcloths). School starts one week from today.

    • I was so frustrated with the directions and tried many times to do this. These instructions are SO very helpful! Thank you so much! I’m ready to make some necklaces now!

  • Slick, easy to understand instructions and photos. Now I’ll give it a try.

  • Thank you!!!
    I love the necklace and tried to make it in early July – and tried – and tried – multiple times. Just could not figure it out. The lounge had a couple of questions but no answers. So I planned to come back and try again later. It’s now several weeks later and I get it!
    Thank you for the video. Sometimes words just aren’t quite enough.

  • Thank you. I tried 4 times (maybe more) to knit this and it bested me every time. I wasn’t turning the needle the right way! I should be able to tackle it now!

  • This is a fantastic tutorial! Thank you for clarifying, as it was very hard to conceptualize.

  • Thank you so much Kate! I am glad I waited to make Tendril until later (even though I wanted it Now!). Your words and Nell’s video probably saved me hours (and hours!) of frustration. I will save this post for that rare calm and quiet time (what happened to the Serene Seventies predicted by some old age guru two decades ago??) when I can devote an afternoon to tackling this pattern, another evidence of Olga’s genius.

  • Thank you for this tutorial! I made one practice one in stash yarn for myself, and am making one now for my niece. She’s in a band, and since I’m making it in a novelty gold thread, it will provide bling without sound or weight.

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