How to Graft an I-cord Bind Off Closed

I like a good I-cord bind off, and have used the technique quite a bit, most lately in my Kenneth Street Slippers and in my upcoming Octopus Slippers. (They’ll be out March 17; I’ll update this post with a link when there’s something to link to. In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview, showing the grafted bind off.)

Octopus slippers, modelled view of left instep and right top.
I’m pretty excited about these. Detail of photo by Gale Zucker.

One of the things I like about this bind off is that you can graft it closed, making an almost invisible join. I’ve been meaning to draw a tutorial showing how to do this graft for a while; the new pattern seems like a perfect opportunity. So here’s how I do it:

Set up

Grafting set up: Left knitting needle with 3 stitches on it. Tail threaded through yarn needle and brought to the right side of work.

After all project stitches are bound off and only the I-cord stitches remain, slip stitches back to the left needle. (If using DPNs or a short circular needle, simply slide the stitches to the other end.) Cut yarn, leaving a tail about 8 in/20 cm long. Thread tail onto a yarn needle and bring to the right-hand side of the stitches.

Step 1

Grafting step 1: yarn needle going into first stitch purlwise.

Bring yarn through the first stitch purlwise.

Step 2

Grafting step 2: yarn needle going behind both legs of initial cast on stitch.

Bring yarn behind the legs of the corresponding stitch in the cable cast on at the beginning of the I-cord: if your first stitch in Step 1 is next to the wrong side of the fabric, the corresponding stitch at the beginning of the I-cord is also the one next to the wrong side.

Step 3

Grafting step 3: yarn needle going through stitch knitwise.

Bring yarn through the first stitch on the left needle, knitwise.

Step 4

Grafting step 4: first stitch slid off left needle, first stitch grafted.

Slide first stitch off the left needle and tighten the new graft stitch so that the new stitch matches the I-cord bind off stitches.

Repeat

I-cord graft finished.

Repeat steps 1-4 for remaining I-cord stitches. Weave in the end to secure it.

Cuff of Octopus slippers, showing finished graft on the bind off.
The finished graft.

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