How to attach an i-cord

Adding personal touches to your knitting takes a garment from finished to fabulous! Follow Amy Kaspar’s step-by-step guide and work your magic.

If you are ever frustrated with the edge of your knitting, fear not. You can make an i-cord edge that actually attaches as it goes, instead of knitting a million rows of i-cord and then seaming a million stitches to an already-knitted piece. Plus, it’s pretty! Ready to try it?


All you need is a finished edge, some yarn for the i-cord, and either two double-pointed needles in the correct size, or a circular needle in a shorter-length cord. I used a 40cm/16″ circular needle.


  • Yarn
  • Double-pointed needles OR circular needles


Cast on: Three stitches using a long-tail cast on (this is my preferred method, but you will not die if you use a different one). If you are knitting the edge of a continuous or round piece, such as a neck edge, you can use a provisional cast-on and graft later if you’d like. Then, with your needle facing to the left, pick up a stitch on your knitted piece with the wrong side facing you. The wrong side is the inside, the ugly side, the non-visible side, or the one with all of your colorwork floats on it.

step 1

So you should now have four stitches on your needle, and the working yarn should be coming out of the stitch on the left, which is closest to the needle tip. You with me so far? Slide all of the stitches to the other needle tip, so that the tail is furthest from the tip.


i-cord: In a traditional i-cord, you would knit all four stitches, slide to the other side of the needle, knit four stitches, over and over again. To attach an i-cord as you go, there is a slightly different process. Knit the first two stitches, and then knit the last two stitches together. The two you are knitting together are your last cast-on stitch and your picked-up stitch.

step 2


Pick up: The next stitch on your edge. Slide the stitches to the other end of the needle, and repeat! Knit two stitches, knit two together, pick up, slide, knit two stitches, knit two together, pick up, slide. Over and over. This is what knit two together should look like.

step 3


For that first knitted stitch, the working yarn is coming from the far stitch, so you are pulling your yarn across the backs of all stitches. There is no need to give the yarn a grand tug or a death-grip…the i-cord sort of works itself out tension-wise, and if you pull it too tightly, you will not be able to knit the two together at the end of each row without a struggle. In other words, do not pull as tightly as I am pulling in the photo.

step 4


The general rule is that if you are attaching an i-cord to stocking stitch, you will pick up one stitch per row. If you are attaching to garter stitch, it is one stitch per ridge. There are other methods of attaching an i-cord, but this is a good first one to try.

step 5


The back side, or wrong side, should be facing you the whole time. It is pretty, but flip your piece over and take a gander at the right side. You should have two visible stocking stitches on top of each other, with the third bending toward the back and the fourth a bit more loosely attached to the wrong side of your work. Magic!

step 6

You can do this on almost any side, with almost any reasonable tension. For instance, if you want to do a v-neck, you can skip a stitch or two to get the correct tension. If you are attaching it to ribbing, you may also skip stitches so the i-cord does not flare out. This is a great edging to compliment a zipper up the front of a cardigan, as the zipper will practically disappear behind it.

Also, keep in mind, if your tension is incorrect, ripping it out and starting over is not exactly the same as ripping out the front of a jumper and starting over. It is much more painless to rip out an i-cord.

Finally, if you are knitting something in stocking stitch and want it to just magically stop rolling, i-cord is a heavier, more dense piece of knitting since it is a tube of four stocking stitches per row. It will minimize the curl of the bottom of stocking stitch quite a bit.

Try it, and remember:  this is a pretty fiddly technique but after the first couple of rows, you will have it. You will own it.