It’s important how you begin something. We’ve covered that. It is equally important how you end it. How often did I have the bind off edge of a toe up sock turn out just a bit too snug to easily pull them over my heels? How often did the hem of a top down sweater turn out a bit too tight for comfort? And how frustrating is it when you find out you can’t wear your brand new turtleneck sweater because the bind off is too tight to fit over your head?
Today I want to show you some stretchy bind offs you can try out on your next projects. Again, some I found by googling for them and some I found in “Cast On, Bind Off“. The swatches should be familiar to you if you’ve read my last post on stretchy cast ons. All fingering weight yarn over 21 or 22 stitches in either K1, P1 or K2, P2 ribbing.
Decrease Bind Off (in pattern)
This has been my default stretchy bind off for a while. I found it on Youtube where it was worked in stockinette but you can simply bind off the purl stitches by p2tog (purling 2 together). I later found out that this is pretty much the same as the Lace Bind Off, the only difference being that the Lace Bind Off is not usually done in pattern.
It works up very quickly because you are just knitting and don’t have to pull any stitches over any other stitches. You don’t need that much yarn for it, no more than knitting that round would have taken up. That is good to know when you are trying to knit up all of the yarn you have.
It doesn’t flare and looks good on ribbing and stockinette because you can work it in pattern. It blends even better with your project if you knit the knit stitches of your ribbing through the back loop. Or you could bind off your stitches with just a K2tog (knit 2 together) instead of doing it through the back loop but that changes the look of that bind off a bit.
This bind off has a moderate amount of stretch and is, therefore, suitable for almost all kinds of projects where you need a stretchy edge. It even works for me on toe up socks (I often have problems getting toe up socks on my heels with a standard bind off). But I wouldn’t necessarily use it for baby or kids clothes. I like to err on the side of caution and rather have a bit too much stretch than too little. It is possible for hats and booties to turn out too tight when using this bind off. (It has happened to me before).
Elastic Bind Off
This is essentially another Decrease Bind Off. You work the stitches first and then bind them off by knitting them together through the back loop. Here is a video on how to do it.
This bind off will need more yarn than the Decrease Bind Off I’ve mentioned before because you are working the stitches first. So keep them in mind when considering when to end your project. It is very frustrating to run out of yarn while you are in the middle of binding off.
The edge looks very neat but when it follows ribbing I find that flares just a little bit. That might not be noticeable when working in the round but I am unsure. Following stockinette or garter the edge lies flat. Since this bind off also offers a good amount of stretch it is a good edge for a lace project.
Suspended Bind Off
The Suspended Bind Off seems complicated at first but is actually fairly easy to work. You are simply waiting with dropping the stitch you just bound off until after you worked the next stitch. That automatically makes your stitches and bind off require more yarn which makes it a bit more elastic than a standard bind off.
It flared quite a bit on my K1, P1 swatch. I suspect it looks a lot neater on stockinette or garter, though. Other than that the edge is neat and very even. This bind off is great for knitters who bind off too tight. It is much more difficult to get an edge that even when just trying to bind off more loosely. I know, I’ve tried.
The edge has a bit more stretch than a default bind off but not that much.
Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off
This is indeed a very stretchy bind off; that Jeny really knows what she’s doing. (Remember, she’s also the creator of the Slip Knot Cast On in my last post.) I find it fairly easy to work (and Cat Bordhi explains it wonderfully in that video) and rather pretty. The edge is a bit showier than other stretchy bind offs because the edge folds like an accordion or a fan. It requires a bit more yarn because of the extra yarn overs.
I had no flare on my swatch. In the article on Knitty about it, there seemed to be flare on the sample, though. I will have to try it out on a larger swatch in the round to be sure. Even with a bit of flare, it would look good on socks (the cuffs always have to be stretched a little to sit well on your leg) or on the neckline of sweaters – especially turtlenecks. It is also the best bind off I can think of for baby and toddler clothes.
Lace Bind Off
This is actually the same as the Decrease Bind Off I’ve mentioned first. The only difference is that you (usually) ONLY work it as knit 2 together through the back loop.
It has a simple clean edge and works best on stockinette or garter. Following K1, P1 ribbing I got a tiny bit of a flare that is hardly noticeable. But the edge stretches a little less than the alternating Decrease Bind Off I’ve described earlier.
This bind off has just enough flexibility to make it a good choice for lace. (Hence the name)
Icelandic Bind Off
The Icelandic Bind Off is a variation of a Decrease or Lace Bind Off. A little trickier to work at first but the edge is simple and pretty. The elasticity is pretty much the same as with the Lace Bind Off. It just looks a little more interesting without being too showy.
Again this is a bind off well suited to lace. “Cast On, Bind Off” also advises to use it for rolled necklines but I would only do that on an adult sized sweater. Babys, toddlers, and children need a lot of flexibility in the neckline since their heads are quite large in relation to their bodies (the smaller the child the larger the head).
Which of these bind offs have you used before? Which were new to you but would you like to try out? Would you like to read more about bind offs and cast ons? Please let me know in the comments below.
There is a lot more to cover on cast ons and bind offs. I’ve hardly touched all the tubular ones and would really like to write a post on those. Just need a bit of preparation time. Also, my sheep’s clothing is done except for cutting the steek. So expect a post on that in the near future.
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