A note from Kathleen: Raise your hand if you've bound off too tightly, bound off on the wrong side, or bound off too loosely. My hand is WAY up; how 'bout yours? I was recently looking through my back issues of Interweave Knits (which I can now do right from my computer with the compilation CDs!) and I came upon an article about several different bind-off techniques that I thought you all might be interested in. It was written by knitting expert Ann Budd, and I've found it really helpful. In fact, I now almost always use the Suspended Bind-Off in place of the Standard Bind-Off. I hope you'll get some good use from these bind-off techniques as well.
Binding Off: A Fitting End
At some point, all knitting must come to an end and the stitches must be removed from the needles. This can occur at the end of a project when all of the stitches are bound off, or along shaped edges, such as armholes and necklines. Over the centuries, knitters have devised a number of ways to secure the final row of knitting, while producing an edge that is elastic and flexible.
Following are several ways to bind off stitches, each with advantages. For best results, all bind-offs should be worked with even tension to produce an elastic edge that will stretch with the knitted fabric below it. If worked too loosely, the edge will flair and look sloppy. Worked too tightly, the edge will fray and eventually break, especially along edges that are subject to stretching such as necklines. To prevent an overly tight bind-off, use a needle one (or more) sizes larger than the one used for the body of the project.
End each of these bind-off techniques by cutting the yarn and pulling the tail through the last stitch.
This is the most common, and for many knitters, the only method for binding off. Use this method for edges that will be sewn into seams or finished in some way (such as stitches being picked up and knitted). Slip 1 stitch, *knit 1 stitch, insert left needle tip into first stitch on right needle (Step 1), pass this stitch over the second stitch (Step 2), and off the needle—1 stitch remains on right needle and 1 stitch has been bound off (Step 3). Repeat from *.
This method is similar to the standard bind-off but produces a more elastic edge. Use this method when you want to ensure against a tight bind-off edge. Slip 1 stitch, knit 1 stitch, *insert left needle tip into first stitch on right needle and lift the first st over the second (Step 1), leaving the first stitch on the left needle, knit the next stitch (Step 2), then slip both stitches off the left needle—2 stitches remain on right needle and 1 stitch has been bound off (Step 3). Repeat from * until no stitches remain on left needle, then pass first st on right needle over the second.
Invisible Ribbed Bind-Off
This method produces a rounded edge that is extremely elastic. It follows the k1, p1 rib and is ideal for neckbands. Work this bind-off with a tapestry needle. Cut the yarn three times the width of the knitting to be bound off, and thread onto a tapestry needle. Working from right to left, insert tapestry needle purlwise (from right to left) through the first (knit) stitch (Step 1) and pull the yarn through, bring the tapestry needle behind the knit stitch, insert it knitwise (from left to right) into the second (purl) stitch (Step 2) and pull the yarn through, *use the tapestry needle to slip the first knit stitch knitwise off the knitting needle, insert tapestry needle purlwise into the next knit stitch (Step 3) and pull the yarn through, slip the first stitch purlwise off the knitting needle, then bring the tapestry needle behind the knit stitch, insert it knitwise into the next purl stitch (Step 4), and pull the yarn through. Repeat from *.
This method, invented by Elizabeth Zimmermann, forms an exceedingly elastic edge (so it's great for toe-up socks!) that has a ropy appearance, much like a purl row.
Work this bind-off with a tapestry needle.Cut the yarn three times the width of the knitting to be bound off, and thread onto a tapestry needle. Working from right to left, *insert tapestry needle purlwise (from right to left) through the first two stitches (Step 1) and pull the yarn through, bring the needle knitwise (from left to right) through first stitch (Step 2), pull the yarn through, and slip this stitch off the knitting needle. Repeat from *.