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  • Writer's pictureBecca Norman

I-Cord Bind Off Tutorial

Knowing different ways to finish edges is one of the best ways to become a better knitter. Mastering all the stitch patterns in the world but only knowing one way to cast on or bind off will often leave your masterpeices looking amateur.

This particular technique gives a wonderfully clean finish by creating a little tube that envelopes the stitches along the bound-off edge, and when worked in the round, it seamlessly joins at the beginning and end of the round.

This is a great finish for sweaters, blankets, and really anything you want. It's moderately stretchy, although maybe not a great choice for finishing ribbing. I'll be demonstrating on my Duotone Sweater to finish the double knit edge I created. It's wonderful for double knitting.

While it's not terribly difficult, it's what I call a compound technique, because it involves a few different techniques that could each be taught on their own.

These are:

I have a tutorial for the kitchener stitch on the blog, but for the others, continue reading and/or watch the video below.

If your project is on circular needles, you can either continue with the same circulars, or if you prefer binding off with on double-pointed needle in your right hand, that will also work. If you've ever made an actual i-cord, you'll see the similarity in this technique.

Step 1

  • Using the knitted cast on technique, cast on 3 stitches.

Knit one stitch, but instead of slipping the old one off the left needle as you normally would, you will instead transfer the new stitch on your right needle over to the left needle without twisting. Repeat this 2 more times, each time knitting into the newest stitch that has been created.

Step 2

  • Knit 2 stitches

This probably needs no explanation, but you will now have only 2 stitches on your right needle, and the first stitch that you cast on will still be on the left.

Step 3

  • K2 tog tbl ( or in the case that you're finishing double knitting like me, k3tog tbl)

"TBL" stands for "through the back loop." To do this, you insert the right needle purlwise through the legs of the stitches on the back side of the needle, as opposed to on the front like when you're purling. Then you can wrap the yarn around the right needle and pull it through like normal.

This will join the cast-on stitch with the original stitch on the body.

Showing what it looks like to knit through the back loop.
The needle is in the "back loop" of 3 stitches
  • If you are binding off double knitting, the 3 stitches you are knitting together are: the first cast-on stitch, and 1 each right- and wrong-side stitch.

Step 4

Slip all 3 stitches purlwise from your right needle back to the left needle. This how we get the i-cord in the i-cord bind off.

3 worked stitches on the right needle that will now be moved to the left needle.
Put these 3 stitches onto the left needle

Repeat steps 2-4

until you have reached the end of the round, but this time leave the 3 live stitches on your right needle.

3 stitches on the right needle and none on the left.
End of round!

If you're knitting a Duotone

And you used my double knitting modification, you will have this sequence of stitches: purl stitch, 3 i-cord stitches, purl stitch, knit stitch.

arrows pointing to faux i-cord stitches and double knitting stitches on a Duotone Sweater

At this point, work k2tog tbl 3 times, then switch back to k3tog tbl to catch the next purl stitch along with the last i-cord stitch.

Continue as established above.

How to finish

Cut the yarn, leaving enough to weave in, plus a little extra. Turn the work 90 degrees counter-clockwise and switch hands with the needles. Insert a knitting needle into the 3 stitches you made at the very beginning. I find it easier to use a tapestry needle to find them, and then slide them onto a knitting needle. Double pointed needles are great here. Long circulars can feel a bit unweildly at this point.

You will graft the 3 live stitches to the 3 picked up stitches using the kitchener stitch technique. Visit this blog post for a full tutorial.

Once the stitches are grafted, use the working yarn to neaten up any loose or untidy stitches, and then weave it in and trim it off. If you are working on double knitting, you can thread it through the hollow space, pull it taut, and trim. It will disappear into the inside like magic!

The grafted seam of the i-cord bind off


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