Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ordinary chain bind off, part 2b: binding off in the middle of a fabric--ending the bind off

includes 8 illustrations click any illustration to enlarge

The last post was about starting a chain bind off in the middle of a fabric. This post is about ending the chain bind off.

At the end of your bind off for a pocket or a neck opening, you may often find that the last stitch looks messy. This is because the traditional method of ending a chain bind off in the middle of a fabric is to work the last stitch by the same method as you have made the intermediate stitches. Per illustration 1, at the red arrow, this results in the passed-over bar of the last bound off loop showing on the face of the fabric.

Let's diagram this bind off, so we can analyze the stitches one-by-one.
  • the second to the last stitch of the bind-off is illustrated in BLUE
  • the last stitch of the bind off (also called the final stitch of the bind off) is illustrated in GREEN
  • the first stitch made in the fabric just past the left end of the bound-off opening is illustrated in PURPLE
  • The stitch in the row below the first fabric stitch is illustrated in BLACK.

As we saw in the photo in illustration 1, and as repeated by the red arrow in illustration 2, with the traditional bind off, the passed-over loop of the last (green) bind-off stitch lays over the first (purple) fabric stitch. This bound-off loop interrupts the smooth march of the column in which the purple stitch lies, and that interruption is what makes the left edge of the bind off look so sloppy.

Our mission today is to get rid of that interruption. We'll smooth off the left edge all neat and tidy, so that the purple stitch lies in an uninterrupted column of stitches. We are going to reach this goal by using a combination of k2tog and a pull-up of a stitch from the row below to eliminate the passed-over bar.

a: Bind off until you are at the second-to-last stitch (blue)

b: Do NOT knit the final stitch (green) to be bound off. Instead, pull the green stitch up onto the right needle--this is the pull-up of the stitch from the row below discussed above.

c. Pass the blue stitch over the green stitch as if you were doing an ordinary bind off, but hold the running yarn in the back when you do it. This passes the loop of the blue stitch, which has already been knitted, over the loop of the green stitch, which is not yet knitted.

d: Return the final (green) stitch to the left needle, so it lays just to the right of the black stitch.

e: knit the black stitch together with the green stitch (k2tog). The illustration shows the result after you've k2tog'd the green and the black stitch: the k2tog arranges the black stitch on top, while the green stitch is hidden behind, and the first fabric stitch past the bind off--the purple stitch--has no bar laying over it. In other words, the bar lays over the green stitch, and that green stitch AND the bar are hiding behind the black stitch, instead of laying over the purple stitch! Neat, huh?

OPTIONAL: The illustration above shows the final (green) stitch simply knitted together with the black stitch. However, as an optional additional step, if you find that the green stitch is so loose that bits of it keep popping out from behind the black stitch, you can tighten it by twisting it a couple of times before you return it to the left needle in step d.

illustration 3 is a photograph showing what this bind-off ending looks like in real life, in all-green yarn.

As shown by the red arrow, the column in which the final stitch lays is not interrupted by the bar of the final stitches' bind off, because we have hidden that last bar. Our goal of a tidy and uninterrupted column for the first fabric stitch has been met.

One last note to dispel possible confusion: All the stitches in illustrations 1, 2 and 3 have been worked to the end of the row because the bind off is complete. Therefore, the working yarn is not shown: it is "off the screen" so to speak. This is in contrast to the step illustrations a-e: in these illustrations, the bind off is shown in progress, and therefore, the working yarn--still in use--IS shown.
* * *
This post is part of a series. The others in the series are:
Ordinary chain bind off, part 1: binding off along a straight edge
Part 2a: binding off in the middle of a fabric--starting the bind off
Part 3: binding off circular knits.
* * *

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: "ending a bind off in the middle of the fabric.")


FlippyTWS said...

Can't wait to give this a try! Thanks so much.

Rachel said...

Wow, I love this particular duo of posts and will definitely bookmark them for future reference.

Two nitpicks:

Your link back to part 1 is broken because you have an extra http in the link. Also, Diagram 2 looks a bit funny since there's no "working yarn" tail extending from the work. I think it would follow (be to the left of) the purple stitch, unless I'm not following how you slipped the stitch back to the left needle.

I have a little swatch going now, so I'm off to try this!

Angela said...

Brava! Ingenious! I hope you don't mind if I use these in a pattern I'm writing up; if that's okay, can I credit you as techknitter, with web address, or do you prefer something else?

Sunfire said...

Brilliant. I just wish you had posted this last week. I just finished making cardigans for my granddaughters and wasn't happy with my bind off in the middle of the fabric. However, the kids have the cardigans and love them, so the next ones I make I'll love too, using your bind off method! Thank you once again.

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Rachel. Thanks for the heads up re: the link. I fixed that. As far as diagram 2, it is meant to be the bind off after the stitches in the diagram have been all knit--the working tail is off the screen, so to speak. I have amended the text to make that more clear so I don't confuse any more readers. Thanks again for writing.

Hi Angela: I would prefer if you would simply put the link to the post in your pattern. This would avoid copyright issues. Thanks for asking!


KLyons said...

Thank you TK!! I suffer from extremely bad buttons holes (or rather, my cardigans do)... this tutorial is a sweater-saver!

Nell said...

Great minds think alike! That's the ending I just showed some friends at work! I'm delighted to have illustrations to refer knitters to after explaining/ describing/ demonstrating this wonderful technique. I'm interested to see your preferred cast on...
Thanks again.

Bobbi said...

Delurking to say thanks! That's one of the most ingenious things I've ever seen and makes things lay and line up so perfectly!!! Can't wait to put it into action.

twinsetellen said...

As always, so clear, both verbally and graphically.

Part of your genius lies in your ability to see these tiny imperfections that so many of us just accept.

Anonymous said...

TECHknitter: I have recently discovered your blog and am working my way through the Greatest Hits index. Your work is remarkable.

Your knitting instructions are clear and concise and I feel like I have a friend I can go to for advice. Your graphics and computer technical skills are impressive as well.

Thank you for improving the knitting blogsphere and inspiring knitters around the world.

C said...

Thank you so much for this series of posts! Coincidentally I've been having issues with binding off in my newest project and was about to give up on it before I realized that your latest posts were on this exact subject.

On a related topic, what would you suggest for casting on in the middle of a fabric (i.e. a buttonhole or thumb gusset)? I usually do the "looping on" method, but end up with holes where the cast on was started. Would the twisted looping on method help with that?

Thanks again!!

--TECHknitter said...

Hi C: stay tuned, the subject of casting on in the middle of the fabric is planned for an upcoming post. Thanks for writing--TK

Sarah said...

Interesting! When you hinted that you'd be pulling up a stitch from the row below and knitting two together, I imagined picking up the white stitch below the black stitch and knitting it together with the green stitch as the last of the bound off stitches... I wonder how that would work?

Kim M said...

I am SO happy to stumble across your blog!!

Dixie Ipsit said...

In step D, it appears that the green stitch is to the right of the black stitch in the diagram, but the text says that the green stitch is to the left of the black stitch. Not sure which one is right.

Amy said...

Dear Techknitter,
I think I invented this technique too, last week, when I was doing buttonholes on my latest sweater. I'm really glad to see it explained so well here and amused at the coincidence in timing.
Your blogless admirer,

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Dixie: THANKS for being a "guest editor." I fixed the error. The illustration was correct, the text was wrong, but now, thanks to your sharp eyes, they are the same. Specifically, the green stitch is returned to the LEFT needle, yes, but it is to the RIGHT of the black stitch. Thanks again, --TK

Jinky said...

hi, i've been your reader for quite sometime now, and I have nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award, please check it out on my site... thank you so much for all the tutorials they are all very helpful.

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Jinky: thanks for the honor! The only trouble is, I can't find your blog. --TK

Jinky said...

so sorry, here is my blog site

folding electric bike said...

Thanks for our information,It's so detailed.

Angela said...

About linking to your posts in my pattern-- I will try that, although it's a pattern for Twist Collective, and I know they want to try to have patterns be self-contained entities. If I can't do that, I'll do a post on my blog about the pattern after it's published, and link to your site from there.
By the way, I see someone beat me to it, but I just nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger award: you can see the details on my blog at

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Angela: Thanks twice: First, thanks for the award nomination, and second, thanks for being understanding regarding the link: Putting the link on your blog sounds like a great solution.



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Iris Jones said...

I love your blog! I've posted a link to it from my blog ( My blog readers are also raving about your site.

Keep up the good work. You are filling a need.

As a artist, I'm impressed with your clear illustrations. If you do the artwork, two tips of the hat for that! I know it takes a lot of time to create such clear drawings.

Judi P said...

Just used parts a and b on the under-arm bind-off on the Reversible Vest from Knit One Below, and I can attest that your techniques work great with the P2TOG bind-off technique, too. Genius.

Karen T. said...

I second Judi P.'s approval of this marvelous technique when binding off in purl. I find that I need to finish with p2togtbl (purl two together through the back loop) when binding off on the wrong side of stockinette. p2togtbl (or is that just p2tbl?) is one of my least favorite stitches, but it's what works here.

Anonymous said...

I have been cursing a fancy holey scarf pattern recently, and been threatening to abandon it altogether. But now I have been saved by the Master Guru, and am actually looking forward to frogging it, and making it look right from the start. You are a star, and your tips are the best thing ever. Thankyou so much!

Valerie Taylor said...

Just the problem I was trying to solve in a project I'm trying to "design" (not sure it deserves to be called an actual design). Thanks!