I-cord Bind Off Instructions & Tutorial

Have you ever reached the end of a knitting pattern and a regular bind off just does not feel like the right move? I was there this weekend. I was completing a cowl and I wanted a bind off that complemented the pattern (brioche stitch). Then, I thought back to a bind off I used a long time ago on a baby sweater I adored: the I-cord bind off!

Instructions and tutorial for the i-cord bind off - Hands Binding Off

The first time I cast off using I-cord, I thought I did something wrong — it was too easy! You are essentially working an I-cord ONTO your work as you bind off. It might sound a little confusing, but let’s remember what the “I” stands for: idiot! Brash, yes, but oh so easy to memorize and work.

The I-cord bind off in a few simple steps

First step of i-cord bind off: casting on

Let’s say you finished the last row or round of your work (you turned if you are working flat). Cast on 3 stitches to the left needle. I used the cable cast on, which you can find instructions for here.

I-cord bind off steps : k2; sl 1, k1; psso; place sts back on left needle

Step 1:

Knit the first two stitches (that you just cast on) and slip the third.

Step 2:

Knit 1 (from your last row).

Step 3:

Pass the slipped stitch over.

Step 4:

Replace the 3 stitches back on your left needle.

Repeat those four steps until you have cast off all of your stitches. Working with a contrasting color certainly helps you keep track of stitches, but you can also use the same color you worked the rest of your pattern in. It may feel like you are working far more stitches in this bind off, but the work goes very quickly and I think the results are worth it.

I-cord bind off review: Collage of Steps

At the end of your work, replace the 3 stitches on your left needle and knit them together through the back loops. If working in the round, you might want a seamless look. I suggest provisionally casting on your first 3 stitches and then grafting them to the last 3 when you are finished binding off.

Applied I-cord

Applied I-cord is made the same way. You need to pick up stitches along whichever edge you are working the I-cord on, then you bind them off using the I-cord technique detailed above. I actually applied an I-cord to my cowl in the main color at my initial cast on -edge.

Brioche stitch cowl with i-cord bind off

If you are interested in making a similar cowl to the above (by goodknits), get the pattern here.

Do you like knitting I-cord? Have you tried the I-cord bind off or applied I-cord?


carolyn williams

I’ve never tried this put i look forward to it, it looks really good


Thank you for sharing this tutorial. I like the I-cord Bind Off look.

Lisa Gutierrez

Hi! If you provisionally cast on the first stitches, you can graft the ends together, but if you did not (I didn’t in my cowl!), you can simply knit the last 3 together, then seam the end to the beginning as neatly as possible.


I have only used this bind-off once but it is beautiful and, as you say, simple and reasonably fast. I seem to have forgotten about it but I’m working on a project now that I just realized would be well served by an i-cord edge so I’m looking forward to trying it again!

Btw, I love the color combo used in this tutorial…

Pete Futa

Any different instructions if the piece is flat and the sides are I-cord? The cast on edge will require applied I-cord as well!

Lee Bernstein

Wow! I shared this on the Knitting is Gluten Free Facebook page, and it got over 3,000 hits with over 50 shares. A lot of people are loving this post! Thank you so much for offering this tutorial.

I love Craftsy!


Rebecca Lamont

I did an I-cord bind off on another project and it certainly wasn’t as simple as this one. Going to have to do this one next time!


How many stitches can you do an Icord with? Any number? I once tried eight and couldn’t get it to work. I thought it should work with any number of stitches. Please help straighten this out for me!

Anne Woolsey

Have never saw this before, looks wonderful, can’t wait to try this! Thank you.

Monica Benninghoff

Obviously I’m written instruction impaired. I need to SEE it done in a video. I’m spoiled. :)

ursula brown

Please could u send me the pattern for baby booties. I got pattern halfways then lost it


Is it possible to print i cord bind off technic… I really appreciate it

Thank you very much I have been searching for that technic for quite while

Susan R.

This is a fantastic edge finish. It looks superb on your cowl. The contrast of grey-blue and yellow is brilliant, too!

“Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage.”
— Elizabeth Zimmerman


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