Making an I-Cord

Little I-Cords Everywhere

Knitted I-cord Coasters
Salihan/Flickr/Creative Commons

Making an I-cord is one of those things that seems mysterious and difficult until you now how to do it. I waited a long time to sit down and make an I-cord because it always sounded kind of scary to me, probably because it involves double-pointed needles, which are also kind of mysterious and scary.

The good news is that making a I-cord is really quick and easy, and you can use them for all sorts of things, from the strap of a bag to the straps on a tank top.

Making I-Cord

An I-cord is a narrow piece of knitting made on double-pointed needles that can be made as long as you like for a thousand different uses, either utilitarian or decorative. They can be made of any yarn as long as you have double-pointed needles that are similar in size to the gauge of the yarn (use smaller needles with finer yarn, bigger needles with heavier yarn).

To make an I-cord, cast on a few stitches (usually between three and six). Knit the first row. Slide the stitches to the opposite end of the needle. Now the working yarn is at the bottom of the row. Knit again, pulling the working yarn up the back of the piece so you can work with it.

Again slide the stitches to the opposite end of the needle. Repeat in this manner for as long as you like. As you pull the yarn the back will close up on itself, like magic. If you have a very wide I-cord you might need to help it along by giving the cord a tug when you've worked a few inches.

Uses for I-Cord

I-cords is great because once you've made one, you'll start thinking of all sorts of uses for them. Here are just a few ways you might use them:

  • Strap or handles for a purse or bag.
  • Straps for a knitted shirt or dress.
  • Use it as a belt.
  • Make a headband.
  • Sew the cord together to make a flower, a spiral, or some other shape you can use on another knitted project.
  • Use as a tie for a hoodie or in place of elastic in a hem.

Attached I-Cord

You can also use I-cord to make the hem of your garment. Pick up stitches if your garment is finished, or leave the stitches on the needle if you have not cast off. Using a new ball of yarn, cast on three or so stitches on a double-pointed needle, then slide those stitches onto your other needle starting with the first stitch on your needle, so that the working yarn ends up three stitches in.

Pull the working yarn up as before and knit the first two stitches (or all but the last of the stitches you just cast on if you're using more than three). Then knit the next two stitches together, through the back of the loops. You'll now have three stitches on your right-hand needle. Instead of sliding like you would with a regular I-cord, slip these back onto the first needle, again backing them on so the working yarn is in the middle.

Repeat this process of knitting two and knitting two together through the back and sliding them back on the first needle until you're down to three stitches. Then bind off as normal.

If you'd like to see how the technique is done, check out this excellent video. The attached I-cord gives your work a very professional look, and it's kind of fun, too.

Once you master these two techniques you'll be finding excuses to add I-cord to all your projects.