There are many ways to make a stretchy bind off (we discussed some of them in this tutorial), but not all of those ways look good with ribbing. And not all of them are easy to make.
So how do we make an elastic bind off that works with ribbing and doesn’t require a lot of effort? The easiest solution is to use yarn over bind off but work it in pattern (that means knitting the knits and purling the purls).
Here’s how to do it step by step. If you prefer to learn from a video tutorial, click here.
Work the first stitch. If that stitch is a knit, knit it. If it’s a purl, then purl it. Most ribbing stitch patterns start with a knit stitch, so it is very likely that your first stitch will be a knit.
Make a yarn over and work the next stitch. Again, “working” means knitting the knits and purling the purls. My swatch is worked in 1×1 ribbing, so my second stitch is a purl.
Insert the tip of the left needle into the yarn over and the stitch that is at the right side of the yarn over.
Pass these yarn over + stitch over the other stitch and off the needle = 1 stitch left on the right needle.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you bind off all stitches. Cut the yarn and pass the yarn tail through the last stitch. Pull tight to secure.
If you are working in the round (finishing toe-up socks, a top-down hat or a neckline of a sweater), do the bind off as described above. Then thread the yarn tail into a wool needle and use it to join the gap between the first and the last bound off stitches as explained in this video tutorial.
Aside from being so simple and nice-looking, this type of bind off is also incredibly versatile. It works great with all types of ribbing (1×1, 2×2, 3×3 etc) and other stitch patterns with ribbing-like structure (for example, patterns with cables).
The photo above shows the right side of the bind off. As you see, even though we work stitches in pattern, the right side of this bind off looks a lot like a straight line. If you want the bind off to continue the lines of ribbing, bind off stitches on the wrong side of the work.
Here’s a photo of the wrong side of the same swatches:
This little feature gives us more control over the look of the bind off edge. When we want to make a decorative textured edge, we bind off stitches on the right side of the work. For an edge that has better stitch definition, bind off on the wrong side of the work.
Either way, we’ll easily make a lovely bind off edge that has a fair amount of stretch and at the same time, hold its shape well.
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Happy knitting 🙂