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