When you have a baby, teething is just a fact of life. There are loads of commercial teething toys you can buy in all different sizes, shapes, and colors. You can get the kind that are filled with water and kept in the fridge, or just some that are textured for babies to chew on. When Dragonfly was teething as a young baby, I was in the middle of making cotton washcloths. The skeins of cotton yarn didn’t work out to all get used up evenly for the washcloths, so I decided to use some of the extra to make teething rings. It was really easy; here’s how I did it.
Make an “I-cord” (instructions to follow) in whatever width and length you like, then sew the two ends together to make a ring shape.
In case you’re not familiar with an “I-cord,” this is a technique developed by knitting master Elizabeth Zimmermann, and it creates a wonderful cord that you can use for a plethora of things – as a belt for a cardigan, as a drawstring inside any garment that requires one, or as I’m demonstrating today, as a teething ring for baby, among many other things.
The phrase I-cord is short for Idiot Cord because Mrs. Zimmermann thought that any “idiot” who knows how to knit would be able to make one. All you need is some yarn and two double pointed needles (DPNs). The technique is very easy: cast on your desired number of stitches, slide the stitches to the other end of the DPN, knit across, slide down, knit across, and repeat the sliding and knitting until your cord is the desired length. The sliding (rather than turning the work) requires you to pull the yarn across the back of the work, and as you continue to add to your cord, this pulls it closed into the cord shape. What you end up with is a round piece of knitting that is stockinette on all sides. It’s very attractive, and very easy to work.
For my teething rings, I used 100% cotton yarn. This is what I use for washcloths, and it works really well for the teething rings for a few reasons. First, cotton yarn has very little stretch. There’s virtually none, actually. This means that the ring maintains its shape. Second, it freezes and thaws well, which is really important for a teething ring. Finally, because it’s an all-natural fiber, you don’t have to worry about your baby putting it in his mouth. And if you use organic cotton yarn, even better.
So, what you do is create an I-cord using your desired number of stitches on whichever size needles you like. I used four stitches on a size 8 needle, but there’s really no right answer here. Find a size needle you’re comfortable with (remembering that bigger needles will make bigger stitches and vice versa) and make your I-cord any thickness you like by adjusting the number of stitches you cast on. Make your I-cord at least 8-10 inches long. Longer will give you a bigger circle; shorter, a smaller one. When it’s a length you like, bind off, knot your yarn leaving a long tail, and then use that tail to sew the two ends together. Wash your new teething ring, then get it nice and wet and stick it in the freezer. If you make several of these, you’ll always be ready to offer one to your baby when his poor gums need it. They thaw quickly, but even the texture seems to help babies, so that’s okay.