I-Cord Ideas

Contributed By Karen Schrade

I-cord is a narrow knitted tube. It can be an accessory, an edging, a decoration, and so much more. It is usually made by casting on 2, 3, or 4 stitches.

Stockinet I-Cord

I-cord is made like this:

1. Cast the number of stitches called for (usually 3 or 4) onto a double-pointed needle.
2. Knit them with a second dp needle.
3. Slide them to the other end of the needle, without turning the work.
4. Bring the yarn around the back.
5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 until you have the length called for.
6. Finish with sl1, k2tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off.

**You don’t need double points. You can just return the stitches to your left-hand needle if you’re using “regular” straight needles.**

Reverse Stockinet I-Cord

The basic directions for I-cord make a tube with the knit side out. To make the I-cord with the purl side out:

1. Cast on 3 sts.
2. Slide to other end of dpn, or return sts to left-hand needle.
3. Pull the yarn across the front of the sts.
4. Knit 3.
5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 until you have the length called for.
6. Finish with sl1, k2tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off.

By pulling the yarn across the front rather than across the back, you are effectively turning the I-cord inside out.

Applied I-Cord

There are variations that allow you to knit i-cord onto another piece of knitting:

Applied I-cord is attached to an edge after the item is completed.

1. Work two rows of I-cord in the regular way.
2. For the third row, knit the first two stitches; then pick up a stitch from the garment and knit it together with the third stitch of the I-cord.
3. Repeat Row 3 along the edge of the item.
4. Either sl1, k2 tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off, when the end of the i-cord is reached, or if working in the round, graft two ends of I-cord together.

You can use a contrasting color for your I-cord edgings.

Attached I-Cord

To attach I-cord while knitting a piece of fabric, add 3 stitches (for a 3 st I-cord) to the side(s) of the piece of fabric.

Row 1: Work to the last 3 sts (the I-cord sts), and with yarn in front, sl 3 purlwise.

Row 2: K3 (the 3 I-cord sts), work across, or if you want I-cord on both sides, to the last 3 sts, with yarn in front, sl3 purlwise.

**Wrapping the yarn clockwise, in the opposite direction from usual, on the I-cord sts makes the corded edge firm and regular.**

I-Cord in the Middle of a Row

(Ana’s addition)

You can work i-cord in the middle of a row to mark the turn in a purse or make decorative piping near a button band.

Just slip the same 2 or 3 stitches on alternate rows. For example:

Cast on 11 sts.

Row 1: P11.
Row 2: K5, kfb, k5.
Row 3: P5, sl2, p5.
Row 4: K12.
Repeat Rows 3 and 4, ending with:
Even row: K5, k2 tog, k5.
Odd row: P11.

I-Cord Cast on

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s I-cord cast on:

1. Invisibly Cast on 3 stitches.
2. Work I-Cord until you have as many “rounds” of Cord as you want stitches for the project.
3. Weave the end of the Cord to the beginning of the cord.
4. With the working yarn, Knit Up one stitch for each round of Cord.

** Ana’s note: If you don’t like picking up stitches, you can insert a skinny needle purlwise into the first stitch before working each row of i-cord. When you’re done, use the project needle to work the stitches off the skinny needle through the backs of the loops.**

I-Cord Bind Off

For a nice edge on a bind off, do an I-cord bind off.

1. With the sts to be bound off on the left-hand needle, cast on 3 extra sts.
2. For Row 1: k2, k2tog-tbl. This is the last of the 3 “extra sts” and the first of the sts to be bound off.
3. Return 3 sts to l-h needle.
4. Repeat row 1 until all sts have been “bound off”.
5. Either sl1, k2 tog, psso, drawing yarn through loop and fastening off when the end of the i-cord is reached, or graft two ends of I-cord together if working in the round.

** Ana’s note: If you want the i-cord bind off to be in a contrasting color, work the last row before the bind off in the CC. **

Three-Needle Bind off with I-Cord

You can do a 3-needle bind off with I-cord for a decorative seam, joining two pieces for a cushion cover; shoulder seams; the bottom of a bag, etc.

With your 2 pieces of knitting facing each other, right side out, cast on 2 I-cord sts.

*Knit 1, slip 1, knit together the first st of each shoulder piece, pass the slipped st over (1 st effectively bound off)*

Slip the 2 sts on the right needle back to the left and continue working from * to * until you run out of sts to be bound off.

** You can also do 3 or 4 sts for the cord. **

Double I-cord:

1. Cast on 7 stitches.
2. Knit 4. Slip the last 3 stitches purlwise with the yarn held in front. Turn .
3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until the double i-cord is the length you need.

Reinforced I-Cord

This method for making a strong, non-stretching I-cord came from Joan Hamer. It can be used for purse handles or anything else when you want a stiffer cord.

1. Using #4 dpn’s, cast on 3 sts. Do not turn.
2. Slide sts to the other end of the needle.
3. Hold a piece of cable cord the desired length of your I-cord in back of work, with 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) sticking up above left needle.
4. Bring working yarn underneath cable cord and knit 3 sts. Yarn will be coming from left edge of piece. Do not turn.
5. Slide sts to the other end of needle and UNDERNEATH cable cord, thus enclosing the cord inside the I-cord tube.
6. Check your work to make sure your cord is always enclosed in the tube. As you work, keep pulling a bit of cord up so that 3-4″ are always sticking out the top.
7. Continue in this manner until you have the desired length of cord. Pull down on the piece periodically to even out the gaps.
8. Finish off ends, taking yarn through the cable cord to prevent the cord from slipping, or use sewing thread to anchor them. Tie the ends together in a slip knot after threading through eyelet holes in your bag, or knit tabs to attach to bag and thread the cords through the tabs.

Joan L. Hamer Editor/Publisher Pine Meadow Knitting News http://www.fibergypsy.com/pmkn/

Square I-Cord

The directions for square i-cord are in Elizabeth Zimmermann’s book, Knitting Around, .

Just make i-cord as usual, but K1, P1, K1 rather than knitting all 3 sts.

I-cord Bobbles

From The Santa Barbara Knitting Studio & TRISH DESIGNS

1. Knit into the front, back, and front of the same stitch.
2. Slip these new stitches back to the left hand needle and knit them again.
3. Repeat Step 2 as many rows as needed.
4. Pass the 2nd and 3rd sts over the first, ending with your original stitch. You never have to turn the work, and if you pull the yarn tightly across the back the bobbles come out very rounded.
5. if you pick up the original stitch from the left edge of the bobble (right at the beginning of it), slip it onto the right hand needle and pull the new stitch off over it (as in binding off), pulling the bound off stitch tight. This closes up the back of the bobble and makes it more like a little ball.

Uses for I-cord

• I-cord can be coiled and sewn together to make coasters, placemats, hot pads, even a throw rug if you aren’t easily bored.
• I-cord works as bag handles and the ties on caps.
• I-cord can be threaded through eyelets for booties, caps, or bags.
I-cord can be used as ribbon to tie up gift packages.
• I-cord can be glued around a picture frame with perhaps a bow tied on one corner as trim.
• I-cord at the top of a cap, tied in a knot, makes a cute finish.
• I-cord in various colors can be sewn onto finished fabric for flowers, letters, etc instead of duplicate stitch.
• I-cord can be used to make a tassel as follows:

I-Cord Tassel for the Top of a Cap.

After decreasing the crown of the cap to app. 15 sts, sl all the sts onto a holder. *Taking one stitch at a time, k into the front, back, and front of the st making 3 from 1. Work I-cord for desired length, maybe 2 or 3 inches and finish off.*

Repeat for each of the sts and tie a piece of yarn around the base of the cords to complete.

Other I-Cord Projects

Soccer ball hat:

Soccer ball hat:
Referee stripes border this close-fitting cap which is adorned with a 3-dimensional soccer ball. The ball is knitted of 7 bobbles in black and white. The pattern is written for circular knitting with row-by-row instructions and sells for a modest price.

I-cord gloves:

Using Meg Swansen’s I-Cord finger technique, these gloves are started at the fingers and finished at the cuff.

Maggie’s Rags Free Knitting Patterns – Christmas Wreath Ornament

You’ll make 3 I-cords and braid them together for this little ornament.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Row Counter Bracelet « Working out Kinks and Fingering Yarn
  2. Donna Hill
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 13:23:01

    Excellent! I’ve been using i-chords as ties threaded through ribbon eyelets on my wine cozies. I had been wondering how to do the attached i-chord. You’ve explained it all so well and given me many new ideas.


  3. Linda Jimenez
    Jul 30, 2016 @ 06:58:58

    So nice to have all of these in one place. I love the way i-cord looks but I hate to make it most of the time. To make it somewhat easier to slip to the other end of the needle I’ve made my own needles using either chopsticks or dowels in the correct sizes but cut to only 3 or 4 inches long. I think this saves me a lot of time.


  4. Ellie
    Jul 30, 2016 @ 15:40:37

    Thanks – many GREAT ideas!!!!!


  5. elaineinderry
    Jul 31, 2016 @ 11:01:01

    Woot–this is great. Gonna share with my knitting group!


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