Happy Stitches

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Binding Off – Fast and Loose! February 25, 2015

Filed under: Knitting tips and hints,Pattern highlight,Youtube,Youtube Videos — happystitches @ 08:54
The Zen Mountain Scarf with super long picots

The Zen Mountain Scarf with super long picots

I’ve always disliked the usual process of binding off. The tedious action of grabbing the first stitch by the scruff of its neck and hauling it over the second stitch is unpleasant for all concerned. So I set to playing, and came up with a method I called: Modified Conventional Bind-Off. It’s structurally identical to a regular bind-off, but faster (with a little practice) and looser. You both knit the next stitch and bind off the outer one in one single knitting-like movement. It is a matter of training the left-hand needle to take a more active role.

I developed this method of binding off years back and have been teaching it ever since. Many knitters have made a complete conversion to this method. (Bonus: No more too-tight neck bind-offs.) The only time I revert to the conventional method is for three-needle bind-off.  However, caution is advised: The discovery of this way of using the needles led me to suffer from a major outbreak of picots, and this may also happen to you! Picots are decorative cast-on/bind-off extensions which may be used on a cast-on or a bound-off edge, mid-row or at the sides of your work. Picots, which hitherto had been a pain, now became fun. The first product of this picot-mania was my Sea Lettuce Scarf pattern, which has become a perennial favourite. It also led to the delightful Loopy Edging used on my Almost Saintly Socks, and for the super-long picots on the Zen Mountain Scarf.

Loopy Edging on the Almost Saintly Socks

Loopy Edging on the Almost Saintly Socks



On a Knit Row _ K1, * slip the tip of the left-hand needle purlwise into the new stitch and, pointing it towards the back of the work, keep the needle in this position whilst you put the tip of right-hand needle knitwise (as usual) into the next stitch to be worked. (This will feel awkward at first.) The right-hand needle should stick out at the back BETWEEN the second and first stitches, thus forcing the two stitches to form an X on the needle. Throw the yarn as for a normal knit stitch, bring the loop through both stitches in turn (between the legs of the X at the front of the needle). Drop the old stitches from the left-hand needle. Repeat from *.

On a Purl Row _ P1, ** slip the tip of the left-hand needle purlwise into the new stitch and angle it towards the back, slip the tip of the right-hand needle purlwise into the next st to be worked, p2tog.  Repeat from **.

It is very easy to misinterpret these directions and get a different result: the underlined phrase above is where this most commonly occurs. Instead of projecting the needle between the two stitches at the back, the knitter, consumed by the goal of binding off, goes further and pulls the second stitch out through the first one, to the side of the work and then knits it. This produces a beautiful edge, ideal for a finished edge not intended to be seamed (especially when worked in a contrasting colour). However, is it structurally different: it is a suspended bind-off which is hard to unravel and difficult to seam over.

BTW: The reason that a regular bind-off is usually too tight when worked with the same needle size as the project is that you are linking stitches on their sides (the bound off chain) across the width of the same number of stitches. Stitches are wider than they are tall. Ergo, the edge becomes tight.

The reason that this method is looser is that, as you swing your right-hand needle around into the second stitch, it elongates the stitch held on both needles. How much the stitch is stretched is up to you; the depth of the insertion of the needle tips and how far you crank it around are for you to control.

It is very likely that this method exists out there by some other name, as it’s too logical not to have been discovered before. I have recently heard it referred to as the Latvian Bind-off but haven’t yet found a video to confirm this. There are several similar methods but none that I have found yet that exactly replicate the structure of a regular chain bind-off.

Please send me links about similar bind-off methods if you find any.

To make this bind-off your own, practice it everyday for a week! It doesn’t have to be a whole project: just cast on 10 sts and then bind them off again. You are in knit-training!


10 Responses to “Binding Off – Fast and Loose!”

  1. lizkimber Says:

    Is this just a different way of doing the super stretchy bind off? http://youtu.be/SbzeEg6XMwM

    • Good suggestion Liz, but not quite the same. In the Super Stretchy one shown on this link the stitches are worked and then worked again. The MCBO is identical to a regular bind off with no additional bulk in the chain edge.

      • lizkimber Says:

        Hmm, ok, i guess i dont understand.. Maybe i need one of your lovely videos 😛

  2. Laurie Says:

    Nice! Similar to the Icelandic bind off (video on YouTube) but not exactly the same. Will have to try it on my next project.

  3. Pamela Cornutt Says:

    Love it, love it, love it 🙂 Thank you so much again for all that you mean to the Knitting Community. Pam

  4. henhouse Says:

    Lucy Neatby of Tradewind Knits is who I first saw doing this bind off.

  5. henhouse Says:

    OOPS didn’t recognize you Lucy.

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