Take Edges From "Meh" to Marvelous With an I-Cord Cast-On

Do you feel like your knitted edges could use a little upgrade? Maybe it's time to try a new cast-on!

An I-cord cast-on creates a neat little rolled edge on your work. It's great when paired with I-cord edgings and the I-cord bind-off , too.

The I-cord cast-on makes the edge appear as if you knit an I-cord and attached it to the side.

Lucky for you, though, you don't have to do any seaming. The cast-on takes care of all the hard work!

The cast-on is a little more time-consuming that your usual cast-on, but the result is so neat and pretty that you won't mind the extra effort.

When to use the I-cord cast-on

  • When you want to avoid a rolled-in edge
  • When you're using an I-cord edge or I-cord bind-off and want the cast-on edge to match
  • When you're knitting a shawl that has an I-cord edge
  • If the idea of knitting an I-cord, then picking up stitches long its edge makes you want to run away crying

I just finished knitting Stephen West's Exploration Station shawl , which uses an I-cord cast-on to create a seamless edge all the way around the shawl. The I-cord cast-on was paired with I-cord edges and an I-cord bind-off, so the shawl is unified all the way around.

Above you can see a close-up of the cast-on and part of the edges. The part in gray at the top is the cast-on, and you can see how it blends right in with the I-cord edges.

I-cord cast-on tutorial

Usually I-cords are worked on double-pointed needles, but you can use any needles you'd like for the I-cord cast-on.

Step 1:

Cast on 3 stitches using a long-tail cast-on .

Step 2:

Slide the stitches over to the left needle. Your working yarn should be on the opposite end of your left needle tip.

Step 3:

Next, do a kfb (knit front & back).

Here's how: Bring the working yarn across all the stitches on the needle to knit the first stitch on the left needle, but don't drop the stitch just yet.

Insert your needle into the back of the same stitch you just knit, and knit through the back loop. Then drop the stitch off the left hand needle.

You'll have two stitches on your right needle and two stitches on the left. You just made a kfb increase, and we'll use that again throughout the cast-on. 

Pull those stitches snugly as you knit them to avoid a too-loose cast-on row. (See more about that in the Troubleshooting section at the end.)

Step 4:

Knit the next two stitches on the left needle. You should now have 4 stitches on your right needle.

Step 5: 

Slide 3 of the stitches back over to the left needle, slipping as if to purl.

Step 6:

Kfb (knit into the front and back) of the first stitch on that left needle. You will now have 3 stitches on the right needle and 2 stitches on the left needle.

Step 7:

Knit the next two stitches. You should now have 5 stitches on the needle.

Step 8:

Repeat Steps 5 to 7, always sliding 3 stitches over to the left needle and increasing one stitch each time you repeat the steps.

The stitches that build on the right-hand needle are your cast-on stitches. Repeat until you have the number of stitches desired plus 1 extra stitch. So if I need 10 cast-on stitches, I would repeat this until I had 11 stitches.

Step 9:

When you have that extra stitch, slip 2 stitches back to the left needle.

Knit the 2 stitches on the left needle together (k2tog). This creates a nice, neat little ending for your cast-on. 

Now you can start knitting your project as usual. Here I've added on using a contrasting color so you can really see how my I-cord cast-on makes that little rolled edge.


The first few times I tried the I-cord cast-on, I didn't pull my stitches snugly enough and it resulted in a very loose cast-on row.

If your stitches look like the swatch above, with an elongated cast-on row, then  you may want to go back and either use a smaller needle for the cast on or pull your stitches more snugly.

Have you ever tried an I-cord cast on? For what kinds of projects do you use it?

More Ways to Start Your Projects

Get video tutorials for even more cast-ons and bind-offs. Watch FREE in Bluprint Get the Class

January 27, 2018
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Take Edges From "Meh" to Marvelous With an I-Cord Cast-On