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Binding Off: Intermediate and Advanced Techniques

Nov 23, 2009

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.
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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.

Standard Bind-Off
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 *.

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Suspended Bind-Off
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.

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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 *.

 

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Sewn Bind-Off
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 *.

 

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Comments

meshebe wrote
on Feb 2, 2011 1:00 PM

Thank you so much for this article!  I'm a beginner knitter and I've never bound off before, but the suspended bind was terrific!  The pictures here are much better than the knitting book that I've bought.  Very easy to follow!  Thanks again!  :)

LoriGinMN wrote
on Nov 30, 2009 4:37 PM

Thanks so much Kathleen for the post about bind off techniques.  I just completed a hat knit from the top down and was concerned that the bind off would be too tight to fit around the head.  I'll never have to fear this again due to you introducing me to the stretchy suspended bind off.  It worked beautifully.

Betty@3 wrote
on Nov 24, 2009 11:29 AM

Thank you for this information on binding off. I have been trying yet another method: Knit the first two stitches together, put this one stitch back on the left hand needle, Knit this stitch and the next together, put it back on the left hand, knit these two together and continue across the row. I have found it to be an even bind off.

Betty

on Nov 24, 2009 10:37 AM

No mention of a k2tog bind off, my personal favorite (k2tog, slip stitch back to right needle, repeat).

TracyP@2 wrote
on Nov 24, 2009 7:52 AM

Great timing for me, Thanks!!

moir@ wrote
on Nov 24, 2009 12:58 AM

Am always looking for tips to make my knitting look a bit more professional (otherwise I know I will never wear the finished product) - so thanks for the latest tips on different ways of binding off. Will definitely experiment with them!

Moir@

on Nov 23, 2009 9:26 PM

On a different subject......my grandmother used to make a fun sweat shirt pattern.  She would buy a sweat shirt, cut out a round yoke out of the top, blanket stitch or crochet around the edge.  pick up and knit a yoke back onto it with circular needles.  Does anyone have a pattern for this project?  Sadly we've lost it.

on Nov 23, 2009 10:44 AM

A couple of years ago, I was teaching an advanced knitting class at the LYS, when a newbie knitter came in from the hair salon next door.  She had her first project -- a scarf -- in one hand, her other needle in her other hand, an a terrified look on her face.  She came through the door, looked at all of us and said, "can someone show me how to make this thing STOP??!!??".  We all laughed so hard, because we knew that she meant "bind off", but we also knew EXACTLY HOW SHE FELT!!!!

Ellen Faber, Edmonds, WA