Saturday, January 23, 2021

Fake I cord bind off (FICBO)--Quick and easy, sturdy and handsome

featuring a video and lots of illustrations

Why another bind-off?

How about a Fake I-Cord Bind Off (FICBO for short) which looks a lot like the real thing?   Here it is on the sleeve of a doggie sweater. What do you think?

This bind off is a fake copy, yes, but more than that, it is a thing which is good in itself. It is quick, easy to do, and handsome. Its resemblance to I-cord is a plus, but not the only plus. 

Easier to finish off: Unlike real I-cord, a single duplicate stitch at the end is all the finishing required. 

Faster: FICBO involves no slipping back and forth.

Extremely sturdy: Unlike real I-cord bind off which can potentially unravel back to the fabric, FICBO  pretty much can't. Each "row" essentially adds an additional bind off.  For kids pulling on that second mitten with their teeth, for the new puppy chewing its little coat, this is the bind-off to choose.  

Corrects the wavy edge in ribbing:  Here's the ordinary chain bind off on the ribbed edge of a green hat.  In the following photo, there's the edging in process: the scraggly original bind off (lower left) is instantly corrected from wavy to straight and smooth. 

The wavy original edge...

...being corrected with FICBO

* * *

Let's start with a little video.  After the video, a post with illustrations and descriptions goes into deeper detail, if you want.  The method for ending FICBO is not shown in the video, so you'll have to go to the text below for that (Step 7). 


* * *

What IS this bind off and how does it work?

As shown in the video, fake I-cord bind off isn't actually knitting at all: it's crocheting.  However, (and despite the fact that you use knitting needles to do it) an ordinary chain bind off in knitting is ALSO crocheting! Specifically, chain bind off in knitting is nothing more than a chain of crocheted slip stitch. Yes, one is done with a knitting needle and the other with a crochet hook, so it might not seem that way.  Yet in structure, they are identical.

If not familiar with the crocheted slip stitch, the how-to details are in this TECHknitting post (crocheting for knitters).

The fact is, by working an ordinary chain bind-off, you've already worked the first row of today's trick! All this trick does is add one or two additional rounds of slip stitch.

The heart of the trick is this: each slip stitch looks * exactly * like a stockinette stitch, from the front, at any rate.  So, by lining up three rounds--with each stitch exactly below the one above--you get the same look as a three-row I-cord.  You can make 2-round analog I-cords, also.

Note the use of the words "rounds" and "from the front."  If you want this trick to look like an I-cord, that really only works to bind off circular knitting, and this is true regardless of whether the item is 3-D, such as the brim of a top-down hat, or flat, such as around the continuous edge of a flat piece like a circular shawl.  This is because, again, only the front of the slip stitch looks like stockinette stitch--the back of a slip crochet stitch looks like a sewn running stitch, rather than the nice plump round dot made by a purl head.  Therefore, if you have to "turn the work" as, for example, to go back and forth along the bottom of a flat knit piece, the illusion does not hold.  It's still a pretty good bind off when used back-and-forth, but it's not I-cord adjacent in that use.


In the video, and in below examples, I am binding off hats.  Further along in this series, TECHknitting blog will have a free bonus pattern for these hats: a link will be placed here when that post goes live.  For this post, we are only concentrating on the finishing, featuring the FICBO. 

How-to do the Fake I-cord bind off in 7 steps

Step 1: Work an ordinary chain bind off, all the way around the piece. If the fabric you're binding off was worked with both knit and purl stitches, then work in pattern as you bind off.  In the photo below, I am binding off a hat which ends with a dark green stripe, and I am using lighter green yarn as the bind-off yarn. 

Ordinary chain bind off in progress
at the edge of a green ribbed hat

"Bind off in pattern" means, for example, if you were working a ribbing, then, as you bind off, you'd knit the knits and purl the purls, as you work the bind off round.  In other words, you work each stitch in the pattern required, just before you bound that stitch off by dropping the loop of the preceding stitch over it, chain-wise, in the bind-off process.  If this is confusing have a look again at the TECHknitting post on ordinary chain bind off in knitting.

HOWEVER... a little trick! If your fabric is a 2/2 ribbing (k2, p2) then you may wish to consider binding off not QUITE "in pattern," by which I mean: 

    K1, bind off, K1, bind off, P2tog, bind off (two purl stitches bound off as 1).  

The sample hat was bound off as above: 3 bind off chains for every 4 stitches. Like all simple chain binding off of a ribbing, the edge will continue ruffled after binding off, however eliminating 25% of the stitches (1 in 4) helps prevent excessive ruffling at the edge. All bind offs should be fairly loose, but when using this stitch-elimination trick, even a bit looser. 

Step 2: When only the last loop remains from the bind-off process, our trick begins.  Place that loop onto a crochet hook as shown below.  Do not break off the running yarn. Note that the next "stitch" at the top of the hat has already been bound off--it was the first stitch worked at the beginning of the bind-off process. 

Insert crochet hook into the
last loop of the chain bind off

Step 3: (below) Tension the running yarn as for crocheting.  Insert the crochet needle under BOTH arms of the chain bind off stitch.  Once the hook is through, catch the running yarn under the hook of the needle. 

The hook is inserted under both arms of the
chain bind off, that being the first
stitch worked at the beginning of the 
bind off process

Step 4: After catching the running yarn under the hook of the crochet needle, drag the resulting loop towards you, and out from under the two arms of the chain bind off, bringing it onto the surface of the knitted fabric.  Per illustration below, there will now be TWO loops around the barrel of the crochet hook.

Yarn drawn through, new and old loop
around the barrel of the crochet hook

Step 5: working LOOSELY, draw the new loop (closest to the hook) through the old loop laying further down (further way from the hook) on your crochet needle. There will again be only one loop on your crochet hook. 

After drawing the new loop through the old loop,
only the new loop remains

Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 all the way around the garment. 

Step 6:  When you come back to where you started (and if you want the look of a three-stitch I-cord) then for the next round, insert your hook under the two arms of the corresponding slip stitch in the round you just made. If a two-round I-cord analog is enough for you, skip this step and go to step 7.  The sample was worked with three rounds. 

Step 7: ending the fake I-cord via duplicate stitch, as follows:

A. Draw the last loop up big, then cut the loop in the middle

Almost done...draw up the last loop big and cut in the middle

B. Remove the running yarn, leaving the cut end protruding from the last stitch of the last round.  The stitch FROM which the yarn protrudes, and the stitch AHEAD of it on the previous round are the two stitches on which we'll now operate. 

C. Thread the cut end onto a BLUNT ended sewing needle.  As shown in the illustration below, run the needle tip under BOTH arms of the chain ahead, being the chain which began the previous round.  Next, pull the needle through.  Finally, insert the needle along the path of the white arrow, into the last stitch of this round, being the highlighted stitch in the illustration below, FROM which the cut yarn protrudes.  Note that in this last maneuver, the needle comes "up from under," not "down from the top."  

The path of the final duplicate stitch

D. Work the end into the fabric.  Wear garment. (The pattern for this hat will be posted eventually...stay tuned.)

FICBO in the wild

BTW? If the duplicate stitch photos aren't doing it for you, have a look at this post with tricks for the last stitch in chain bind off (remembering that both the chain bind-off and the FICBO slip stitch share identical structure). Scroll to the "OK method."

Work looser!

Once more time! LOOSE!! If you put this edging on tight you're going to say bad things about this trick. Draw up a generous loop each.and.every.time and you will say good things, instead. 

When to use, when to avoid

As mentioned above, this edge can take it for utility items: a child's mitten, a birdwatching cap, or ... the cuffs on that doggie sweater which opened this post!  

Another FICBO in the wild.
More info on this project at Ravelry

Yet there is a downside. FICBO's stiff edge could be uncomfortable to sit or lay on.  Use a softer edge at the bottom edge of a long office-type sweater: a hard little cord under the backs of your legs all day might raise a welt. For an infant who lies all day, or for anyone wheelchair-bound, or with poor circulation, also use a softer bind off.  Save FICBO for the outdoor gear or kids' knitwear.

Til next time, TK