Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ordinary chain bind off part 1: binding off along a straight edge

This is the first post of a four-post series on the "chain" or "stitch-over-stitch" bind off, also called "cast off." Today's TECHknitting is about a simple chain bind off along a straight edge. Do you already know how to do this? If so, skip to the bottom where there are three different methods for working the last stitch--methods to help avoid that sloppy last loop. (Also at the bottom are links to the other posts in this series.)

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For today, ordinary stitch-over-stitch bind off along a straight edge--the top of a scarf; the neck of a sweater, for example.

Step 1: Knit a stitch (purple) in the ordinary manner.

Step 2: Knit the next stitch (green) in the ordinary manner. You now have two stitches on your right needle.

Step 3: Insert the left needle into the first (purple) stitch on the right needle.
Step 4: Draw the first (purple) stitch over the second (green).

Step 5. Knit another stitch in the ordinary manner (pink). You will again have two stitches on your needle, just as in step 2. In other words, step 5 is the same as step 2.
Step 6: Continue in this manner, repeating steps 2, 3 and 4 to create a bound off edge as shown below.
There are (at least) three ways to do the last stitch so as to avoid a great big loop at the end.

Method a (below) Work to the end of the row as you have been doing. Draw the second-to-last stitch (blue) over the last stitch (tan), break the tail (orange) short, and thread the end through the last loop as shown. Draw up S-L-O-W-L-Y, feeding as much yarn as possible from the tan loop into the orange tail as you draw the tail up, in order to avoid that big loop at the end.

Method b. (below) Work to the end of the row, but do NOT draw the second-to-last stitch (blue) over the last stitch (tan). Instead, break off the tail (orange) and thread it through BOTH last loops, then draw the tail up. Again, be sure to tighten the orange tail slowly while feeding excess yarn from the last two loops (blue and tan) into the tail, in order to avoid having sloppy last loops.

Method c. (below) Work to within one stitch of the last stitch. Do not knit the last stitch at all. Instead, draw the last (tan) stitch on your left needle up from the row below and draw the second-to-last stitch (blue) over it. In other words, do not knit this last stitch--which is the very edge stitch of your fabric--the "selvedge stitch." Instead, simply pull this (tan) selvedge stitch up, and then draw the second-to-last (blue) stitch over it.

Break off the yarn and draw the tail (orange) of the yarn through the selvedge stitch (tan), as well as the second-to-last stitch (blue). In this illustration the selvedge stitch (tan) is extra-long, because this knitter has been making a chain selvedge all along the fabric edge. However, a chain selvedge is not required to make this kind of ending--any sort of selvedge stitch will do just fine.
Stitch-over-stitch chain bind off has the potential to be tight. If you want a loose bind off, such as at the edge of a scarf or afghan, or at the top of a sock, hat or at a mitten cuff, work this bind off with larger needles than you worked the item knitted. However, sometimes a tight, or at least, a firm, bind-off is wanted, such as at the shoulder seams or the back of the neck of a garment. A firm bind off in these high-stress locations prevents the garment from sagging, stretching and drooping. The stitch-over-stitch bind off is a good match for these situations.

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This post is part of a series. The others in this series are:
Part 2a: binding off in the middle of a fabric--starting the bind off
Part 2b: binding off in the middle of a fabric--ending the bind off
Part 3: binding off circular knits.

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You have been reading TECHknitting on chain bind off (cast off).


Dixie Ipsit said...

Great analysis. Don't know if you are going to say this in the rest of your series, but the basic philosophies on how to handle the last stitch (knit it/don't knit it, where to pass the loose end, etc.) are applicable in other types of bind off as well. I know I'm going to be experimenting with them. My favorite bind off right now is "knit two together through back loop, slip stitch back on left needle). But I still have that issue of the last stitch!

Beverly said...

Thank you for this! I have agonized over what to do with that last stitch for the whole 5 years I've been knitting. I'm definitely bookmarking this page.

Evelyn said...

Thanks for this and for a first-rate blog and your unfailing helpfulness at Ravelry. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Jan said...

This is a great gift to us, your readers. Thanks for all the great tech tricks you have offered us this past year. A very Merry and a Happy to you.

Judy said...

Thanks for your great blog.....I have a fourth option of what to do with the last stitch.....bind off with preferred method until there is one stitch left on the right needle. Cut the yarn and pull the right needle upwards from your project (elongating the last stitch) until the yarn tail is pulled free.

--TECHknitter said...

Thank you Judy: I will try that the next time I bind off. How great to get tips and tricks from readers here in the comments!

Dixie Ipsit said...

Is there anything that you (in your infinite wisdom) might say about handling the last stitch when you are knitting in the round?

Evelyn said...

People over at Ravelry are talking about a Lucy Neatby trick of not pulling the yarn through the last stitch at all. I don't understand what they're talking about, but the thread is here. Is this also what you're doing? See posts 18, 23 and 31. Can you illustrate what they're describing?

gardienne said...

Evelyn, I took a couple of Lucy classes and what she did was exactly what Judy described in the comments above. When you get to the last stitch on your needle, clip the tail and elongate that last stitch loop until the tail pops out.

Alan said...

Do you have any suggestions for binding off in the round? Does slipping the first stitch help?

--TECHknitter said...

Hi ALan--the very next post will be about binding off in the round, and your question will be answered. Stay tuned...

Thanks for writing --TK

meimingdesign said...

In the last two (upper and lower) stitches of kitchner grafting, how does one end the graft/bind-off without leaving big ugly lumpy points?

TECHknitter said...

Hi Meiming: For Kitchener stitch, when you get to the end, just keep going in pattern, skipping the stitches that aren't there, but telling yourself that they are. In other words, treat the stitches on your needles as you would if all the other stitches in the series were there, entering and exiting the remaining stitches as you would ordinarily.