Okay, so you've
put hours and hours (and hours) into knitting
and you've finished. Now to bind off. (Some
people call it casting off because there's
a lovely symmetry to "casting on, casting
off", isn't there?)
But which bind off? Do you
usually bind off too tightly? I know I do. There's
nothing worse than not being able to get your
head through the neck of a sweater you've just
finished. One way to solve this is to bind off
with a needle a couple of sizes bigger held
in your right hand. But did you know that there
are particularly flexible methods of binding
off? Binding off in ribbing, a suspended bind
off or a decrease bind off, to name a few. Or
maybe you want a decorative bind off? There's
the picot bind off, I-cord bind off or a (gasp!)
double-crochet bind off, all of which have a
little something special. Then there are sewn
methods of binding off and of course, the three-needle
bind off. Whew! Better get to it.
The most usual way to bind
off is as follows: Knit two stitches
then *insert the left hand
needle into the front of the first stitch on
the right needle,
pull it over the second stitch
and off the right hand needle. This leaves one
stitch on the right hand needle.
Knit another stitch*, then
repeat from * to *.
When you knit the stitches,
the result is a row of V's, which are slightly
facing the front of the work.
Next couple of times you
knit a gauge swatch, try casting off using knit
stitches on the right side of stockingette stitch
vs. the wrong side and see the difference. It's
purely a matter of personal preference!
To bind off in purl from
the right side, do the exact same thing, but
purl the stitches instead of knitting them.
A purl bind off can be a
bit neater, particularly in garter stitch, since
the bind off row more closely resembles another
garter stitch ridge.
To bind off in ribbing, knit
the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches
as you bind off.
Sometimes bind offs can be
a bit tight. Sometimes this is a good thing.
But for the tops of socks or sleeves, the neck
of a sweater or anywhere you're casting off
over ribbing -- all the places that are going
to have to give a little when you put them on
-- you'll want a more flexible method of casting
off. If not, it can lead to the bind off edge
wearing thin after a bit of time has gone by
from the stress. The following bind offs are
all a bit more flexible than "regular"
The decrease bind off
There are several ways of
performing the decrease bind off - by knitting
two stitches together, knitting two stitches
together through the back loop and purling two
stitches together. I'll stick with knitting
through the back loop - it's Wendy
Wonnacott's preferred method!
*Knit two stitches together
through the back loop.
Return the stitch back to
the left hand needle*.
Repeat from * to * until
all stitches are bind off.
This leaves a bind off edge
similar to the ones above, depending on whether
or purl, but with considerably
The suspended bind off
Knit two stitches.
*Slip the first stitch over
the second stitch, but do not drop it from the
left hand needle.
Knit the next stitch.
Slip both stitches off the
left needle, leaving two stitches remaining
on the right hand needle.*
Repeat * to *.
The resulting bind off looks
similar to a regular knit bind off, but looser.
The single crochet bind off
Using a crochet hook similar
to the size of your knitting needles held in
your right hand, *knit one stitch.
Knit a second stitch with
the crochet hook...
then pull the loop of the
second stitch through the first stitch.*
Repeat from * to *.
Elizabeth Zimmermann's sewn
Break off a length of yarn
around 3 times as long as the knitting and thread
it onto a yarn needle.
*Insert the needle into the
first 2 stitches on the knitting needle as if
to purl and draw the yarn through.
Reinsert the needle into
the first stitch on the knitting needle as if
to knit, draw the yarn through and slip the
Repeat from * to *.
This leaves a cast on row
that has an appearance that is very similar
to a long tail cast on.
There, that ought to hold
you until next issue, when we'll cover the decorative
bind offs and the infamous 3-needle bind off!
Without Tears, Vogue
Knitting, and the ladies of Knittyboard