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).