An i-cord cast on is a great way to create a nice, firm edge on a knitting project. We’ve previously covered how to add an i-cord edge as a bind off, but it can be convenient to start your project with an i-cord as well.
Start off by casting on 3 stitches in your preferred method. You’ll probably need to start with a slip knot. Here’s a reminder. Make sure you leave enough tail for whatever finishing you’re planning.
Cast on 3 stitches total.
Slide the stitches purlwise to the other needle.
Start to knit the first stitch. The yarn will be on the wrong side of the row, that’s okay. Don’t pull the stitch off the needle after you knit it.
This shows the knit loop pulled through, but the stitch isn’t finished yet.
Now place the needle into the back of the first stitch, and knit it again, letting the stitch you’re knitting into fall from the needle this time.
This creates a new stitch – the first of the cast on edge. Make sure to keep these first stitches as tight as you reasonably can – leaving them loose will result in a loose first row of your project.
Knit the next two stitches the normal way.
Slide three stitches back to the other needle purlwise.
This shows one cast-on stitch, and the three for the i-cord on the other needle.
Repeat those steps – knit twice into the first stitch, then knit the other two.
Then slide three stitches back.
Now you’ve cast-on 2 stitches.
Keep going this way until you have enough stitches. How many is enough? That depends on how you want to end your i-cord.
You can choose to let the i-cord fade into the next row. In this case, you would cast on the number of stitches you need, while counting the 3 i-cord stitches.
Letting the stitches blend in looks like this. It kind of rounds the corner.
Alternately, you can cast on the number of stitches you need minus 1 (not counting the i-cord) and bind off the end of the i-cord. To do this, when you have enough stitches, turn your work around.
Purl the first two stitches of the i-cord.
Pass the first stitch over the second stitch.
It will look like this. Now purl one more stitch.
And pass the farthest stitch over again.
Only bind off those two stitches. I’ve found that when I bind off 3 stitches, I get a weird little lump at the end of the row.
This method results in a more square corner, that is a near match with the start of the row.
You may also want to leave those three stitches live and place them on a holder, then stitch them to the end of the row if you’re working in the round.
Hopefully this gives you a new way to start your knitting projects. Just be sure to keep that cast-on row tight so that you don’t end up with a loose first row. And, of course, if your particular combination of needles and yarn just won’t let you achieve a snug first row, you can always use a provisional cast on, or pick up stitches later, and add an i-cord using the bind-off method mentioned previously!