Knittybits - 3 favorite bind-off techniques

While the standard (knit 2, pass one over) bind-off is an easygoing classic that can get the job done beautifully in most situations, it can be less than ideal for some projects. I relearned this the hard way recently when I absentmindedly used a too-tight standard bind-off on a pair of toe-up socks and couldn't get them on past my heel!  This is where a consistently stretchy bind-off technique would have been a more functional choice.

I run a techniques and tidbits class at my local yarn shop (David's Yarn) that we call Technique Thursdays.  Once a month on Thursdays (with a Saturday re-run) you can pop in, pay five bucks, have fun and learn something useful and new.  This week we learned 3 new bind-off techniques and I thought it would be fun to share the love with all of you too - and so welcome to Knittybits!  Today I'll introduce 3 of my favorite bind-off techniques, why I like them and why I find them useful.

Favorite Stretchy Bind-Off

A stretchy bind-off is a good choice for any hand-knit project where the targeted body part is large in proportion to the knitted piece that needs to stretch around it — a sweater over a baby’s head, a turtleneck over anyone's head, toe-up socks that need to stretch up and over the heel, headbands and so on.

There are many types of stretchy bind-offs. Here are instructions for an easy one I really like.

 Favorite Stretchy Bind-Off directions:

Step 1: knit the first two stitches from the left needle to the right needle.
Step 2: insert the left needle down into the front of both stitches on the right needle.
Step 3: knit the two stitches together through the back loop (tbl)

You now have one stitch on the right needle.

Step 4: knit the next stitch from the left needle to the right needle.

You again have two stitches on the right needle.

Step 5: repeat steps 2 through 4 until you have one stitch left on the right needle. Then secure the end as you would in a standard bind-off by pulling the end of the yarn through the loop and pulling up to secure.

EZ bind-off

EZ doesn’t stand for “easy” even though it really is!  No - it stands for my favorite knitting icon, Elizabeth Zimmerman.  I love everything about the late Elizabeth Zimmerman - her skill, her artistry, her dry wit, her wisdom -  and every knitting thing she pioneered throughout the course of her spicy life and career is worth checking out in my opinion.  I have really enjoyed the ease and aesthetic of her classic sewn bind-off (that has become known as the EZ bind-off) and have used it on countless projects over the years.  The stretchiness of this bind-off depends on how tightly or loosely you work it.  It is an easy sewn bind-off that creates a neat, pleasing, pretty edge on most finishes including ribbing - plus it satisfies that occasional urge I get to sew.

 EZ Bind-Off directions

Step 1: Leave a long tail of your working yarn about 3 to 4 times the length of the edge you intend to bind off.  Cut the yarn and thread it on a blunt tapestry needle.
Step 2: Insert the tapestry needle down through the first two stitches on the needle as if to purl and pull the yarn through snugly but not too tight (do not pull the stitches off yet).
Step 3: Insert the tapestry needle back through the first stitch on the needle as if to knit, pull that stitch off the needle and pull the yarn through snugly but not too tight.

Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have one stitch left. Then secure the stitch as you would in a standard bind-off

Note: there are only two small drawbacks to this bind-off method:  the long tail requirement can get cumbersome on very large projects and it is not an easy bind-off to undo so make sure you are really ready to bind off before you do so.

Picot bind-off

I’m always looking for fun and classy ways to finish off certain projects and I love, love, love this one.  If you want a delicate, understated decorative edge (on socks, mitts, baby blankets, shawls etc), the pretty little picot bind-off may be what you are looking for. 

Picot Bind-Off directions

Step 1: Cast on 2 new stitches onto the end of the needle using the knit on method.
Step 2: Bind-off 5 stitches starting with the 2 new stitches.
Step 3: Slip the remaining stitch on the right-hand needle back onto the left-hand needle.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1 through 3 until you have one stitch left. Then secure the stitch as you would in a standard bind-off

I hope you have enjoyed these knittybits of bind-off wisdom and stay tuned for more Knittybits coming soon!

For all the love and people you put In Knit - Jan