Knitting an I-Cord Bind Off

I-cord knitting
Lilyana Vinogradova / Getty Images
Overview
  • Skill Level: Beginner

While the standard bind off technique is simple, it doesn't always produce the cleanest or neatest of edges. If you're looking to add some flair or just want a smooth finishing touch on your project, this bind off is perfect.

An I-cord is a little tube of knitting, usually only three to six stitches, and generally in stockinette stitch. If you've ever used a knitting knobby or done spool knitting as a child, you've made I-cord. Here, the cord is begun on the last row with a cast-on, and grows horizontally across the stitches being bound off. It's a brilliant little piece of knit edge engineering! 

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Knitting needles for working swatch

Materials

  • Knit swatch, ready to bind off

Instructions

  1. Cast On I-Cord Stitches

    Before beginning the bind off, the stitches of the I-cord must be added to the needle. There are several cast-ons that can be used to add stitches at the beginning of a row; one good choice is the cable cast-on.

    • Using the cable cast-on, cast on 3 stitches.

    You can cast on more than three stitches if you would like to make a wider cord, or fewer to make a narrower cord it all depends on the look desired for the project.

    Casting on stitches.
    Sarah E. White
  2. Begin I-Cord Bind Off

    Work across the I-cord stitches, then work the last I-cord stitch together with a project stitch using an ssk decrease.

    • K2, ssk.

    There will be three stitches on your ​right-hand needle.

    Decreasing for bind off.
    Sarah E. White
  3. Continue Bind Off

    Transfer the stitches you just worked back to the right needle, slipping them as if to purl.

    Repeat the steps across the row: knit to the last I-cord stitch, join it and a project stitch with an ssk, and slip the I-cord stitches back to the right needle.

    Tip

    If your I-cord bind off looks tight or is puckering, try using a needle one or two sizes larger than your project needle in your right hand.

    Stitches slipped back on left needle.
    Sarah E. White
  4. Finishing

    To finish off, slip the three I-cord stitches back to the left-hand needle one more time, and knit them all together.

    Leaving a four inch tail, cut your yarn and pull it through the remaining loop.

    Tip

    If you have an even number of stitches left, you can also graft the tube closed, which will allow it to keep a slightly more rounded shape on the end.

    This method of binding off can be time (and yarn) consuming, but it makes a great finishing touch for a pocket, collar, button band, the top of a bag... so many places!

    Finished I-cord bind off.
    Sarah E. White