Often when we knit toe-up socks, a top-down sweater or a top-down hat (like the one we finished last week), it’s a good idea to make the bind off stretchy to ensure that our handknit creation is comfortable to wear.
There is a bunch of ways to make the bind off edge elastic. Many of those bind offs are done with a wool needle. But we won’t discuss those elaborate techniques in this article. Instead, I’ll show you three easy ways to make a stretchy bind off edge. All of these ways are done with knitting needles and work well for most stitch patterns.
I’ll show each bind off on a swatch made in knit 3, purl 3 ribbing that is a good stitch to demonstrate how the bind off edge looks on knit stitches, purl stitches and ribbing.
Ok, now let’s take a closer look at each way to make a stretchy bind off edge.
WAY #1 – JENY’S SURPRISINGLY STRETCHY BIND OFF
This type of bind off was invented by Jeny Staiman a few years ago (her first blog post about this bind off dates back to September 2009).
Even though it’s a relatively new invention, this bind off has become very popular very fast. And there is a solid reason for that – the edge formed by this type of bind off is neat, nice looking and stretchy.
HERE’S HOW TO DO IT:
If you are a visual learner, click here to watch every step in a video tutorial.
1. Work one stitch (knit or purl it depending on the type of the stitch).
2. Make a yarn over. Here’s the tricky part – the way to make a yarn over depends on the next stitch on your left needle.
If the next stitch is a purl, bring the yarn to the front of the right needle, and then wrap it around the needle from front to back, as it is shown in the photo below.
If the next stitch is a knit, take the yarn to the back of the needle and wrap it around the needle from back to front, as it is shown in this photo:
3. Work the next stitch. Now you have 2 stitches and a yarn over on your right needle.
4. Pass the yarn over over the stitch you’ve just worked, and off the needle.
5. Pass the second stitch on the right needle over the first one and off the needle = one stitch on the right needle.
Repeat steps 2 to 4 until you bind off all stitches. When you have one stitch left, cut the yarn and pull it through the last stitch like you usually do when you finish binding off stitches.
WAY #2 ICELANDIC BIND OFF
This bind off is beautiful. It looks like a reversed stockinette i-cord sitting on top of the fabric and is a lovely decoration for necklines, cuffs, edges of a blanket and pretty much anything else.
No purl stitches in this bind off, only knits. That’s important. I tried to knit the knits and purl the purls, but the “knits only” look is much better, so we’ll stick to the traditional version.
HERE’S HOW TO DO IT:
1. Insert the tip of the right needle purlwise (from right to left) into the front loop of the first stitch on the left needle, and pick up the front loop of the second stitch knitwise (from left to right).
This step is a bit tricky. If my explanation seems confusing, click here to watch how it is done.
2. Pull the front loop of the second stitch through the first stitch without taking any of the stitches off the left needle.
3. Wrap the needle with the yarn and pull the wrap through the front loop of the second stitch. Or, simply put, knit the second stitch.
4. Take both stitches off the left needle, but make sure you keep the new stitch on the right needle.
5. Place the new stitch on the left needle, and without taking the right needle out, pick the front loop of the second stitch knitwise.
Repeat steps 2 to 5 until you bind off all stitches. Then cut the yarn and pull the yarn tail through the last stitch. Pull tight to secure.
WAY #3 ELASTIC BIND OFF
I learned this bind off from the “Cast On, Bind Off” book by Leslie Ann Bestor and now it’s my go-to bind off when I need a nicely shaped stretchy bind off edge.
The best thing about this way to bind off stitches – it is simple and does not require any unusual manipulations with needles (no offence to Icelandic bind off – the look of it is definitely worth the effort 🙂
HERE’S HOW TO DO ELASTIC BIND OFF:
1. Work 2 stitches (knit the knits and purl the purls).
2. If the second stitch you worked was a knit, follow these steps:
a) With the yarn at the back of the work, insert the left needle from left to right into these 2 stitches so that the left needle is at the front of the right needle. Don’t take the right needle out of the stitches.
b) Wrap the yarn around the tip of the right needle and knit the 2 stitches together through the back loop.
If the second stitch you worked was a purl, follow these steps:
a) With the yarn at the front of the work, insert the left needle from left to right into these 2 stitches so that the left needle is at the back of the right needle. Don’t take the right needle out of the stitches.
b) Wrap the yarn around the tip of the right needle and purl the 2 stitches together as usual, through the front loop.
3. Work the next stitch on the left needle.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you bind off all stitches. Cut the yarn and pull the tail through the last stitch.
Here they are – three ways to make a stretchy bind off. Each of them is different, so try them all and decide which one you like best 🙂