How to Knit I-Cord in 3 Easy Steps

I-cord is quick and easy to knit once you know how. You just need to follow 3 simple steps.

How to Knit I-Cord Video Tutorial

See how easy it is to knit i-cord in this 4 minute video tutorial. Learn the 3 steps & see demos for both thick & thin i-cord. Or scroll on for written step by step instructions with photos below.

This decorative cord comes in handy for all sorts of knitting patterns. I use it to make delicate hanging loops in my free knitted easter and christmas decoration patterns.

How to Knit I-Cord: Step by Step Instructions

To knit i-cord you need:

  • A small amount of yarn
  • 2 Double Pointed Needles (any length, but shorter is best)
    OR a circular needle will do (but DPNs are much handier)

Use the recommended needle size for your yarn (or slightly smaller).

Hands holding knit i-cord

How to Knit I-Cord in 3 Easy Steps

Cast on 2-5 stitches

Cast on 2-5 stitches to knit i-cord

Cast on between 2 and 5 stitches depending on how thick you want your cord to be.
Leave a long tail if you need to attach the cord to something, but a short tail is fine to just weave the end into the cord.

Step 1: Knit a row

I cord after knitting first row

Knit a row of knit stitches as usual. Usually you would turn your work here. But you never turn your work when knitting i-cord. That’s why you need double pointed needles to knit i-cord.

Step 2: Slide your stitches to the other end of the needle

Slide stitches to other end of needle

Instead of turning your work, slide your stitches up to the other end of your double pointed needle.

Step 3: Bring the yarn across the back from left to right

Bring yarn across back

Because you didn’t turn your work, your working yarn is at the wrong side. So take the yarn behind your stitches from the left side to the right side, ready to knit another row.

Repeat Step 1-3 until I-cord is long enough

Length of knitted i-cord on double pointed needle

So it’s an easy 3 step process: knit a row, slide your stitches to the other end & bring your yarn across the back. Repeat these 3 steps until your cord is long enough.

Bind off I-cord

After knitting your final row, just bring the yarn across the back of your work again & bind off as usual. For example, knit the first 2 stitches & pass the 1st over the 2nd. Then knit the next stitch & pass the previous stitch over it until you’re left with 1 stitch.
Cut the yarn & pull to secure the end. Leave a long tail if you need to attach your cord on to another piece. Otherwise you can just leave a short tail and weave it in to the end of your cord tube to hide it.

Knitting Thick vs Thin I-Cord

You can knit i-cord of any thickness depending on the number of stitches & yarn weight used.

The green cord in the video tutorial & pictures above is quite chunky because I knit it with 4 stitches of worsted yarn on 4.5mm needles.

But you can knit much thinner i-cord using the exact same 3 step process too, just with finer needles & yarn.

Thick and thin knit i-cord examples held in hand
The thicker green i-cord was knit with 4 stitches of worsted yarn on 4.5mm needles, whereas the thinner blue i-cord was knit with 2 stitches of 4 ply yarn on 3mm needles.

I-Cord Hanging Loops for Knitted Decorations

My free tree decoration knitting patterns have delicate i-cord hanging loops knit with 4 ply or fingering weight yarn and 3mm double pointed needles (DPNs). You use just 2 stitches, which makes the i-cord very thin, but you knit it exactly the same way as thicker i-cord.

How to Knit Thin I-Cord Hanging Loops

You will need:

  • 2 3mm double pointed needles
  • Fingering / 4 ply yarn
  1. Cast on 2 stitches leaving a long tail.
  2. Knit a row of 2 stitches. Don’t turn your work after.
  3. Slide your stitches up to the other end of the needle.
  4. Bring your yarn across the back behind the 2 stitches
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until your hanging loop is long enough.
  6. Bind off as usual: knit the 2 stitches and pass the 1st stitch over the 2nd stitch. 
  7. Cut your yarn leaving a long tail. Pull the end to secure.
  8. Use both yarn ends to stitch your i-cord loop to the top of your knitted decoration.
Hand holding knit i-cord loop for hanging easter egg decoration
You can quickly knit an i-cord loop with fine yarn to hang knitted decorations

Help: My i-cord looks all wrong

Don’t worry, knit i-cord looks messy at first & nothing like a cord.

If you look at the back of your work, you can see the horizontal ladder bars where you take your yarn across the back after knitting each row.

But even at this early stage, if you bunch it together with your hand you can see your cord taking shape.  Once you knit a few more rows it magically neatens up all by itself.

The top few rows always look a bit wonky but they automatically wrap round to form a nice cord as you knit more rows. So just keep following the 3 i-cord steps – slide your stitches up, bring your yarn across & knit another row – and it will work out just fine.

I-cord knits up quickly & the longer it gets the better it looks. The back curls round as if by magic. You have to really pull it apart to see where you bring the yarn across each time.

Can you knit i-cord with a circular needle?

You can knit i-cord with a circular needle, because any knitting needle that has a point at both ends will work. But it’s more hassle knitting i-cord with a circular needle, because you need to slide stitches between ends after every short row. So short knitting needles work best for knitting i-cord and straight double pointed needles (DPNs) are the best tool for the job here.


I hope you found this how to knit i-cord for beginners guide helpful. Just follow these 3 steps to quickly knit i-cord of any length & thickness. Got any questions? Just leave a comment below.

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