Learn Something New: I-Cord Finishing

I-cord is one of the easiest and most magical things to knit. The cord that forms as you knit is amazingly useful. And there's more than one way to knit the I-cord. With a little change-up of the knitting technique, you can use i-cord to make a beautifully finished edging.

The I-cord bind off on my Caftan Pullover

When I was knitting the Caftan Pullover, I decided I didn't like the look of the four rows of garter stitch edging around the neckline, so I decided to use an I-cord finishing method. It turned out wonderfully, as you can see from the photo at left. Here are two versions of this technique:

Attached or Applied I-Cord

This form of I-cord can be used as an edging on knitted items. In this case, you'll be picking up individual stitches along the selvedge of a knitted item and incorporating them into the I-cord one at a time.

Figure 1
Figure 2

Step 1: Cast on 3 stitches.

Step 2: Knit the stitches, then slide them to the other end of the needle; do not turn the work but bring the working yarn behind the stitches to the first stitch on the needle.

Step 3: Knit 2 stitches, slip 1 stitch as if to knit, use left needle to pick up 1 stitch along edge of work (do not knit; Figure 1), slip this stitch knitwise to right needle, work last 2 stitches together as for ssk (the slipped I-cord stitch and the picked up stitch). Slide the 3 stitches to the other end of the needle; do not turn the work but bring the working yarn behind the stitches to the first stitch on the needle. Repeat Step 3 until the edging is complete.

 I-Cord Bind-Off

This is a variation of the applied I-cord. It can be used when there are live stitches or picked-up stitches on left needle, thus it's normally called a bind-off. This is the method I used on my Caftan Pullover.

Work as for applied I-cord, but work the decrease with the last I-cord stitch and one stitch from the live, (or picked-up) stitches. If using a circular needle, slip I-cord stitches back to the left needle and repeat until all picked up stitches have been worked.

Now here's a really cool idea, from one of our readers:

I-Cord Glove Fingers (!)

This is a great idea for knitting the fingers of gloves, especially if you have thin fingers, or if you're knitting gloves for a child. Knit four I-cords the length of your fingers, and one for your thumb. Use a crochet hook to zip up the ladder that I-cord tends to have, attach the fingers to the hand of the gloves, and you're done! —New York Built

I just love that idea! You Knitting Daily members come up with some really fantastic stuff.

For more fun ideas for finishing and embellishing your knits, check out our video workshop, Knitting Creative Details with Vicki Square. It's a really inspiring workshop, and the download is on sale for 5 bucks!


P.S. I'd love to hear more of the inventive ways you use I-Cord in your knitting. Leave a comment and share your ideas with us!

Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Finishing & Construction, Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

11 thoughts on “Learn Something New: I-Cord Finishing

  1. A timely post! Just last night (but before this morning’s “Knitting Daily” email) I used i-cord bind off to finish my Ojo de Dios Shawl from the winter issue of IK! I decided I wanted a stronger and more tailored edge to the main shawl, and bound off with i-cord. I’m very pleased with the finished look of the edge.

  2. I wish you would give credit where it is due! Elizabeth Zimmermann “unvented” many ways to use I-cord. And Meg Swansen designed gloves nearly 20 years ago based on using I-cord for fingers.

    Too bad you are unaware of Joyce William’s addition to the technique: adding a YO to hide the “blip” which is clearly evident in your example.

    You might do more homework, and give credit where it is due!

  3. everything Therese said, plus
    It’s in the book “Handknitting with Meg Swansen August 1995 + in her pattern Handknitting with Meg Swansen
    per Meg’s pattern at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/i-cord-finger-gloves-wg42, it’s also in one of your own magazines, Vogue Knitting, Winter 1993/94 & Wool Gathering #42, I-Cord Gloves.
    Nona did a blog entry on it crediting Meg in 1995 before starting her kal gloves at http://nonaknits.typepad.com/nonaknits/2005/10/nonas_happy.html

    note, all you had to do was type in “i-cord finger” & you would have quickly found out the real source!!

  4. Hello Kathleen,

    I would love the video download (Vicki Square – Designing Original Knitwear) for $5. but the regular price still comes up at checkout. Is there a code I should use at checkout?
    Thank you!