I showed you a really great cast-on for toe-up socks on Monday…but what do you do when you get to the cuff and need to bind off? Lots of folks, myself included, get a little tight-fisted when it comes to binding off, and it’s a bit demoralizing to knit a beautiful sock that fits you perfectly… that is, it would fit you perfectly if you could get the cuff edge on over your heel!
There are a couple of bind-offs you can use to loosen things up a bit. One of them, the sewn bind-off, is described in Gila Shoshany’s Beyond the Basics in the new Fall Knits. (You can sign up to become a subscriber here.)
Today, I thought I’d show you another one of my favorite flexible bind-offs, one that I’ve used for neck edges, sleeve edges, and even sock cuffs. This bind-off is so flexible that many people use it when binding off lace projects, as regular bind-offs, being a tighter than the lacy stuff surrounding them, can distort the edges of the lace. This bind-off is thus often referred to as the lace bind-off, but many people also call it the decrease bind-off.
Step-By-Step Instructions for the Decrease (or Lace) Bind-off
Version A: Knitting through the back loops
This version gives a bind-off edge that looks just like a standard bind-off, but it is much stretchier.
Step 1: Knit together the first two stitches on the left needle THROUGH THE BACK LOOP. (Figure 1)
Step 2: Slip the new stitch on the right needle back to the left needle. (Figure 2)
Step 3: Repeat 1 and 2 until all stitches are bound off.
Notice how the bind-off edge is nearly indistinguishable from your normal bind-off, but give it a tug and you’ll see how much more flexible it is. (Figure 3)
Version B: Knitting through the front loops
The finished edge of this version looks slightly different but is just as stretchy as the other version.
Which to use when? I’d say it’s a matter of personal taste.
Step 1: Knit together the first two stitches on the left needle. (Figure 4)
Step 2: Slip the new stitch on the right needle back to the left needle.
Step 3: Repeat these two steps until all stitches are bound off.
Notice that I show two samples in (Figure 5); the stitches are worked exactly the same way in both, but in the sample on the right, I used bright green yarn for the bind-off row so that you could see the finished effect more clearly.
Note that you can also use a variation of this bind-off on the purl side of a garment: Either *P2tog, slip new stitch to left needle; repeat to end–OR *P2tog tbl, slip new stitch to left needle; repeat to end.
All right then: Go forth and bind off–or, if you use the British nomenclature: Cast off!
A reprint of Ann Budd’s classic technical article on bind-offs is included in the book The Best of Interweave Knits along with ten other must-have techniques from our Beyond the Basics series in Interweave Knits.
One of my favorite all-time knitting “helpers” is The Knitter’s Companion, a book filled with step-by-step illustrated instructions on everything from cast-ons to bind-offs and everything knitting in between! Need a reminder on how to graft a sock toe, or how to sew a shoulder seam without it looking all lumpy-bumpy? Then The Knitter’s Companion is going to be your new best friend. Add the Knitter’s Companion to your library today!
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