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Knit iCord: The Essentials

by Laura Bain

Making an iCord is a quick and easy way to create a beautiful knit cord which can be incorporated into many projects. A few of my favorite uses for iCord are as the ties for ear flap hats (as in my toddler hat) or as a cord to gather the waistband of a skirt, pants or a sweater.

More iCord patterns are at the end of the page, under the instructions.

Teddy Love Hat
Knit in Boutique Infinity Teddy Love Hat Free Knitting Pattern LW4760
Lace in the Cables Vest
Knit in Soft Lace in the Cables Vest Free Knitting Pattern LW3234
Squared Shades Throw
Knit in Boutique Unforgettable Squared Shades Throw Free Knitting Pattern LW3571

The iCord technique has been documented in a printed pattern as early as 1856. A book entitled The Finchley Manuals of Industry No IV. Plain Needle-Work calls this technique a "stay-lace" and offers a quick explanation of how to create this type of cording. In 1974, Elizabeth Zimmerman “rediscovered” this quick and easy way to create a lovely knit cord, which she dubbed the iCord (because, she believed it to be so simple an "idiot" could do it). It being a rather simple technique, once you get the knack for it, making iCord can be relatively mindless (always a bonus for those of us who sneak our knitting time into a few of the calm moments of a fully packed day).

iCord on DPNs

Knitting an iCord on double-pointed needles (dpns) is simple. To knit iCord lacing you will cast on a small number of stitches (usually between 3 – 6 stitches) and, instead of turning your work at the end of the row, you slide it to the other end of the needle and carry on knitting. This results in “knitting in the round,” but with a very few number of stitches.

Begin by casting on the desired number of stitches with any weight yarn and a comfortable size needle for that yarn. In my example I’ve chosen Red Heart Soft Baby Steps in Elephant and size 8 needles.

In this example will create an iCord using 3 stitches.

Cast on (CO) 3 stitches:

Now slide those CO stitches to the right side of the needle:

Bringing the working yarn around the back of the knit stitches, simply knit the stitches (on what has become the left-hand needle):

This is what your work will look like when you complete the first row:

Again, slide the stitches from the left side of the needle to the right side:

Knit theses stitches:

This is how your work will look when you’ve completed the second row (and tugged on the tail):

Repeat these steps until the iCord reaches your desired length:

To finish, cut yarn and thread through the stitches on your needle. Pull tight. You can use a yarn needle to thread the ends up through the iCord.

iCord Cast On

If you are looking to add a decorative element as you cast on, the iCord cast on creates a lovely finished look for the bottom of sweaters knit from the bottom to the top.

NOTE: Slip stitches knit-wise.

First you will cast on 3 stitches (on your right needle):

Slip those stitches onto the left needle:

Knit into the front and back of the first stitch (KFB), this is an increase:

You will have 4 stitches on your right needle when you finish this row:

Slip 3 of the 4 stitches to the left needle:

Kfb into first stitch and knit the 2 remaining stitches, you will have 5 stitches on the right needle:

Continue to slip 3 stitches from the right needle to the left, KFB of first stitches and knit the last 2 until you have the desired number of stitches PLUS 2 on your right hand needle:

To finish, slip 3 stitches onto the left needle:

Knit the first 2 stitches together (k2tog), then knit the last stitch:

Slip 2 stitches from the right needle to the left:

Knit those 2 stitches together:

At this point, the front of your work will be facing you, so if you want to work stockinette stitch, you will want to purl your second row (and knit the 3rd row, etc):

iCord Bind Off

Another way to dress up your work is to use the iCord Bind Off. Using this method of binding off works very well for bowls and purses (especially fulled/felted pieces), as it adds a lovely finished edge to your piece. Marly Bird also used this method in her Garter Stitch Shawl.  In this example I've used Red Heart Soft in Turquoise.

When you are ready to bind off your work, you will first need to cast on 3 additional stitches (the backwards loop method will work well for this application):

Knit the first 2 stitches:

K2tog (through the back loop):

Slip all the stitches back onto the left needle:

Repeat these steps - Knit the first 2 stitches:

K2tog (through the back loop):

Slip all of the stitches back onto the left needle:

After a few more repeats, the iCord will begin to become more pronounced:


When there are 3 stitches left on the right needle, slip them to the left needle:

K2tog and knit 1:

Slip 2 remaining stitches back onto the left needle:


Cut yarn and thread tail through the last loop:

Weave in the end.

Now that you know how to tackle the 3 most used iCord techniques, here are a few more patterns which use the iCord:

I Heart U Baby Blanket Free Knitting Pattern LW3082

LW3082 I Heart U Baby Blanket

LW4588 Lace Border Shawl

LW4588 Lace Border Shawl

LW4305 Cabled Toddler Hat

LW4305 Cabled Toddler Hat

  Marly's Garter Stitch Shawl Free Knitting Pattern LW5216

LW5216 Marly's Garter Stitch Shawl

Holiday Pillow with Stockings Free Knitting Pattern LW3693

LW3693 Holiday Pillow with Stockings

Knit iCord: The Essentials

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