How to Use a Ravel Cord for Machine Knitting
Updated: Sep 4, 2022
A ravel cord is added to the carriage just like any other yarn in a knitting machine. Knit only one row. When you no longer need the ravel cord you will pull it out. This is why you only want one row.
At approx 1min 50sec, you’ll see how to use the ravel cord
When do you use a ravel cord?
These are situations where you might want a ravel cord:
As a temporary attachment for a cast on rag or to another piece of knitting
As a provisional cast on or where you will rehang the hem and don’t need a closed cast on
Where you are machine knitting many pieces of the same width in a row and you do not want to cast on/bind off each piece separately
Where do I buy ravel cord?
Ravel cord is typically sold at stores that sell knitting machines. These stores are becoming more and more rare.
What can you use to substitute for a ravel cord?
Window blind cord (1.8mm diameter)- this is the cord that is most like a ravel cord. This cord is typically used when making mini blinds or similar window blinds. You can find it whereever drapery supplies are sold
Any slick, smooth yarn/cord approx 1-2mm in diameter – make sure it’s not loose/stranded because it could get stuck in the needles or the knitting and that would be difficult to pull out. Make sure the cord is tightly spun or is braided.
Avoid using these materials as a ravel cord:
Cotton – unless it’s been treated to be slick, cotton is “grabby” and will be more difficult to pull out than a polyester or nylon cord. Cotton will also tend to “wear” the more you pull it through the knitting. The best ravel cord will be reusable many times.
Anything stiff – many people recommend using fishing line. I would not use fishing line as a ravel cord because it may be too stiff and it may be too slick and not stay in the knitting as long as you would want it to. If the ravel cord works its way out of the knitting before you’re ready to remove it, it could be bad for your work.
Anything too thick or too thin – We really prefer a yarn/cord that is 1-2mm thick. We think that less than 1mm is too thin and may break. More than 2mm thick is too thick and may be difficult to pull out or may affect the size of the stitching.
Anything with texture – you want it smooth and slick, not textured!
Dental Floss – dental floss could cut your yarn
How long should my ravel cord be?
You need your ravel cord to be at least 2x the width of the knitting needles in use plus 12″. This length is based on the fact that you need the cord to be the width of the needles in use PLUS some space for the “loop” of the knitting, which is often 2-3x the width of the needles in use PLUS at least 6″ on each side to ensure that the ravel cord doesn’t unravel itself!
When purchasing ravel cord, you’ll probably want to buy at least 10 yards, just because it’s not expensive so it’s easier to have a supply on hand and not have to run out for more later.
If you want to pre-cut your cord, you want to cut a few suitable for the entire bed and some for half the bed and some for 1/4 of the bed. If you do not want to pre-cut the cord AND you want to avoid having long pieces of ravel cord getting in the way, use plastic bobbins used for intarsia knitting to wind up the excess ravel cord. Ez-Bobs (round bobbins) are the best because you can wind the cord on the bobbin, add a weight to the end, then allow the cord to “unreel” just like knitting with yarn. The remaining cord will remain in the bobbin.
Can I use a ravel cord with hand knitting?
You can use a ravel cord with hand knitting. You want to be careful to temporarily fasten the ends so that they do not unravel too early.
Are there other uses for a ravel cord?
A ravel cord can be used as a “lifeline” to safeguard the live stitches, particularly in a lace pattern or any other complex pattern where it would be difficult to pick up the stitches in case of an error.
Why does ravel cord come in many colors?
Ravel cord comes in different colors so that you can use one that is a contrasting color to your yarn. Using a contrasting color ravel cord makes it easier to locate and pull out. Also, if you will rehang a folded hem, use of a contrasting colored ravel cord makes it easier to hang the yarn, instead of the ravel cord.
Why use ravel cord instead of waste yarn?
Ravel cord can be quickly and easily removed and reused. Waste yarn will either be time consuming to remove or will need to be cut, thus not as easily reused later.