Help, My Bind-Off Is too Tight!

How many times have you bound off too tightly? I hate to admit it, but I’ve done it a bunch of times. I think I’m just a tight “binder-offer,” because I can’t seem to get it exactly right.

I used to just go up a needle size or two when binding off, which works well when the piece is being used, but it looks loose and wavy when the piece isn’t on the body. I don’t much care about this for my own things, but if I’m knitting a gift for someone, I want it to look perfect.

Enter Ann Budd and her fabulous video workshop, 45+ Knitted Cast-Ons and Bind-Offs. I tried the suspended bind-off, and it really helped me loosen up my bind-off edge. I use this bind-off all the time instead of the standard bind-off, which always turns out too tight for me. Here’s how you work it:

The Suspended Bind-Off
This method is similar to the standard bind-off but produces a more elastic edge. This bind-off is especially good for knitters who tend to bind-off too tightly; use it when you want to make sure your bind-off isn’t too tight.Slip one stitch, knit one stitch, *insert left needle tip into first stitch on right needle and lift the first st over the second (Figure 1), leaving the first stitch on the left needle, knit the next stitch (Figure 2), then slip both stitches off the left needle-two stitches remain on right needle and one stitch has been bound off (Figure 3). Repeat from * until no stitches remain on left needle, then pass first st on right needle over the second.

When knitting socks toe-up, it’s imperative to cast off loosely so that you can get the sock over your heel and up your calf. Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn bind-off is brilliant, just like the woman herself. Here’s how you work it:

The Sewn Bind-Off
Figure 1 Figure 2
This method, popularized by Elizabeth Zimmermann, forms an exceedingly elastic edge 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 first two stitches (Figure 1) and pull the yarn through, then bring needle knitwise (from left to right) through the first stitch (Figure 2), pull the yarn through, and slip this stitch off the knitting needle. Repeat from *.

The stretchy bind-off is particularly useful in toe-up socks, along cuffs, or any other edge that needs to stretch and then snap back into shape. To learn more knitting techniques, check out Craft Daily! It’s an amazing video resource. Ann Budd’s cast-on workshop is there, along with lots of other video tutorials and Knitting Daily TV episodes. If you’re a visual learner, Craft Daily is definitely for you. Subscribe today and start watching.

And if you’re a sock knitter, check out our new eBook, Five Favorite Sock Patterns!


P.S. What’s your favorite cast-on or bind-off? Leave a comment below and tell us what it is and why!

Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Bind-Off, Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

16 thoughts on “Help, My Bind-Off Is too Tight!

  1. Love those techniques above! Another aid to BO loosely, especially if you want to do it in pattern where knits and purls are mixed…use a needle 2 sizes larger than your knitting.

  2. I use the Sewn Bind-Off method for baby blankets, scarves and dishcloths. It looks most similar to my cast-on edge. I want both edges to have the same appearance so the recipients can say, “Can you believe this is hand knit? Looks too good, doesn’t it?”

  3. In my experience, even casting on one or two larger size needles, or using two needles together, still keeps the casting on row looking narrower at the edges than the rest of the knitting. Any other ideas/suggestions?

    1. You’ve probably learned about this already in the meantime, but just in case: I highly recommend Jeny’s Stretchy Slipknot Cast-On

      I’m a very tight knitter, & I struggled with too-tight cast-on edges for many years. Jeny’s cast-on is amazing! It stretches & doesn’t pull the cast-on edge in, it looks great, & it’s fast & easy – no more trying to estimate the length of the long tail & either wasting yarn or coming up short.

  4. Well, I have just used the Sewn bind off…it was used on a headband I just finished and all I can say is I think this is a great bind off !! I’m not normally a tight bind off knitter but I thought this might be a good idea to use this bind off for something that will need a little stretch, so thank you, thank you for this

  5. For toe-up sox I do what my family just calls the Elastic Bind Off, which is simply to work 2 st in pattern, k (or p) those 2 tog, repeat to end. It makes the bind-off as stretchy as the sock, never bags and helps them stay up.

  6. Can’t wait to try the sewn bind off on the next pair of socks I make. I think it would also be very effective on the top edge of gloves! Thanks for all the tips….

    Judi Foley

  7. Hi Knitting Daily!!!!! THAKS so much for all your wonderful tips with socks!!! I am so sad! You just sent out some tips on NOT having a hole in your sock at the gussett, etc…….and I thought I saved it so I could read and try it when I had time! I have time and can’t find it!!! HELP!!! How very much trouble is it to resend it!??? Probably a lot, I’m sure! But I certainly would love it so much!

    Thank you also for the wonderful tips on Spinning Daily! Keep up the great work for all of us!

    Love. Peace. Gratitude. Kindness.

  8. Two other bind-off’s I have used are;
    first one uses a yarn over before each stitch. yo, k1, cast yo off over the knitted stitch, yo, k1, cast off the k1 and yo over the k1 (third stitch on the needle) then repeat this step till the end.

    second one is k2 tog then slip the resulting stitch back onto left needle, k2 tog (which would be the slipped stitch and next stitch on needle) slip the resulting stitch back onto left needle, continue till the end

    Both of these are very stretchy

  9. When, oh when, will Interweave put a “Print” button on its blogs and newsletters? There are so many lovely hints and ideas which I would like to be able to carry away from my computer to work on but cannot easily do so. I cannot (and don’t want to) work on a project and follow suggestions, such as the above, by looking at a computer screen while I handle my needles!

  10. Dear Ms. Cubley,
    As the Editor of Knitting Daily you should be aware of offensive text being used by Caitlin at the following link where she refers to a German extermination camp in Poland as “Polish”, thereby insinuating that the camp was Polish, when in fact millions of Poles perished at the hands of the German Nazis, many in these camps.
    Sensitivity to the families of those who suffered is in order and a change should be made.
    Please take corrective action.

  11. I’m still new at sock knitting. I have read in some patterns that it is sized to fit a foot of a certain circumference, that length is easily adjusted. My question is–where on the foot does one measure the circumference??
    Thanks for anyone’s assistance!!

  12. Thanks, Kathleen for another way to bind off loosely! I’ve bookmarked the technique on YouTube so I will remember it for the next project. Do you know of a matching bind off for the Twisted German cast on so the stitches match?