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5 Ways to Fix A Too-Tight Bind-Off

Liat Gat - Founder

February 26, 2014

A too-tight bind-off is the Achilles’ heel of the perfect knitted project. It’s the most common complaint I get about bind-offs. Here's how to avoid and/or fix a too-tight bind-off.

A too-tight bind-offA too-tight bind-off is the Achilles’ heel of the perfect knitted project.

It’s the most common complaint I get in my finishing technique classes. So how do you know if you should worry?

Four Clues Your Bind-Off Is Too Tight:

1 — If the edge of your garment looks narrower than the rest of it, your bind-off might be too tight.

2 — If you can’t get your hand or foot or whatever it is INTO your knitted garment, your bind-off might be too tight.

3 — If you tug the bind-off edge and it doesn’t have any give — if it feels like the yarn is going to break, your bind-off might be too tight.

4 — If you can feel tension in your hands while you’re binding off, like you’re holding on and trying to keep everything together, your bind-off might be too tight.

So why is this happening?

There are two reasons your bind-off would be too tight: you’re knitting too tight or you picked the wrong bind-off. We’ll deal with harder problem first.

#1: You’re Working Your Bind-Off Too Tight

Tip: If you have bad habits while binding off, you probably have them while knitting, too. Fix both problems at the same time with these tips!

1. Tension your yarn correctly

Weave your yarn properly through your fingersA. Weave the working yarn through your fingers so you feel like you have control of it ———–>

Let your yarn flow through your fingersB. Give it some slack: let the yarn feed through your fingers as you knit ———–>


2. Make sure that you are holding your yarn at all times

Some people have a bad habit of not holding the yarn at all.

Not properly holding your yarnI see these three habits a lot ———–>


3. Use the tips of your fingers on your stitches to help control them

Not using your fingers for control

When you avoid touching your stitches, you have less control ———–>

When people don’t feel like they have control, they hold their yarn too tight.

Holding the yarn tight makes the bind-off too tight.

Use your fingers for more control

To get more control, put your fingers all over the stitches ———–>

Don’t be shy! Hold the stitches on the needle so that you feel like they’re not going to go anywhere.

Get a good grip on your stitches and show them who’s boss.


4. Slide each stitch down onto the barrel of the needle

Slide your stitches down your needle

Leaving all your stitches right at the tips of the needle is a recipe for very, very tight stitches ———–>

The size of your stitches is going to dictate the size of your bind-off.

Push the stitch all the way down with your finger each time.


5. Last-ditch trick: Use a bigger needle in your right hand

Use a bigger needle in your right handThis isn’t a permanent solution but it can help in a pinch.

Just use a needle 1-3 sizes bigger in your right hand as you bind off.

#2: You Chose the Wrong Bind-Off

The other reason that your bind-off might be too tight is that you picked one that isn’t stretchy enough.

If you’re not a tight knitter in general and you have no problem knitting things with proper tension but you find that your bind-offs are too tight, this might be why.

In my upcoming ebook, I Love Bind-Offs, I give you 12 great choices for stretchy bind-offs.

Many of them are easy, most of them are fast, and a lot of them are fun. Excited yet?

Once you have the ebook, you’re never going to run into this problem of picking a bind-off that’s not stretchy enough.

Recap: To sum up, the ways to fix a too-tight bind-off are:

  • Tension your yarn better
  • Get control of your stitches
  • Slide them down the needle
  • Try a bigger needle, and
  • Pick a stretchier bind-off.

This Tip Is Part Of “I Love Bind-Offs” — Available Now!

I Love Bind-Offs Ebook Cover

Rated 5 Stars on! Learn More

Related Posts:

Trying just a few of these tips will go a long way towards improving your bind-offs. If they don’t, post in the comments and let me know! I’ll try to help figure out what’s going on.

Related Post: If you’re knitting or binding off too tight, you might have sore hands and forearms. Check out my Top 5 Stretches for Knitting Pain and Stiffness – the most popular blog post on KnitFreedom, 2 years running.

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40 thoughts on “5 Ways to Fix A Too-Tight Bind-Off”

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  1. How do I stretch a bind off that’s finished and is not stretchy? it has no give at all and I don’t know to un-knit it.

  2. My hat is complete and the bind off is too tight. How do I fix the bind off of this finished project? Can I open it up and put a piece of elastic?how do I open it back up?

    1. Hi Karen! I’m so sorry about your hat! But I’m glad you asked me here. And I realize now that my blog post talks about how to PREVENT a too-tight bind-off, but not FIX one that is already too tight. I will consider making a video to show this.

      Basically, yes, you should definitely undo the last stitch and pick out your bind-off. Do it again but use a stretchy bind-off like Don’t use elastic.

      If you are confused about how to undo your bind-off, next time I’m filming I’ll make you a video showing how to undo it. It’s not hard, just a bit tedious. I’ll send you another reply here when I make the video. I hope this helps!


  3. Blast and darn. I did it again. And, this time, I have no more of this yarn left with which to “dress” the absurdly-tight finish. A whole inch or more narrower. Well, just goes to show me, (again), I should not have tried so hard to use every inch of that skein of yarn – which I have no idea where I bought it. I could crochet in a cover-up, I suppose, but blast and darn it.

    Great instructions here. Too bad I didn’t take a break and read it before I did it again.

  4. Liat-

    Have you ever considered showing how to UNDO a too tight bind off? I used your invisible stretchy bind off on a sock but must have pulled the bind off too tight because I can’t get the sock over my heel. I used expensive yarn and don’t want to just toss the orphan aside….

    1. Hi Joan! I’m replying to your comment 7 years (!!) later. Hard to believe! I’m sorry I didn’t answer this at the time – I did not have a good system for responding to everyone. Now we’re on top of things (finally) at KnitFreedom.

      So yes, I will make a video on how to undo the bind-off. I’ll reply here when it’s done. Hugs,

  5. I love, love, love all of the information in your posts! I have been knitting for many years and look forward to learning your techniques … This makes me a better knitter. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!

  6. Bernadette Lozada

    Good job .Your tutorials are very helpful. I tell all my knitting friends about you. Look forward to getting your book.

  7. Thank you, great review for me. Now I need to review binding off ribbing for a top down hat. Is it knit the knits and purl the purls? Thank you, Liat.


    1. Hi Joanie,

      It’s a little more complicated than that. To bind off on ribbing, you’ll need to do more than knit the knits and purl the purls. You’ll want to do an actual stretchy bind-off like Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off.

      In my upcoming e-book, I Love Bind-Offs I will teach you 12 different stretchy bind-offs you can use on ribbing. Just make sure to check your email on Saturday the 8th when the ebook becomes available! I will be sending out a big discount to all newsletter subscribers.

  8. I really liked the format of the pictures in this lesson. The commentary on the left side complimented the GOOD & BAD comments on the images. Very helpful!

  9. Your tutorials are wonderful and I have already recommended them to my knitterfriends, however, they are not all are computer-savvy and would be much more likely to use a hard copy. I look forward to more info there. Meanwhile, thanks so much for the help with a perennial problem of mine!

  10. Will there be a hardcopy of your new book for purchase or only ebook or video books. I enjoy having the hardcopy reference book! Love your directions and photos. Thank you.

  11. Wonderful tutorial! I have had this frustration ever since I began knitting four years ago, thinking “Am I the only one with these issues?” Now that I see the bind-off problems and solutions, I feel such great relief and a sense of hope. Thanks tremendously for your help and input. You’re invaluable to this knitter!

  12. I like that you take the time to outline very clearly many things that are assumed. These are especially good for newbies and old hands that have developed bad habits.

  13. Liat,
    I am a self taught knitter. When I learned to knit there was no Internet for help, no you tube for videos ,nothing.I had no one to tell me I was holding my yarn wrong.I keep tension on my yarn with the thumb and forefinger. while holding the needle with my other fingers. I never let go of the yarn but I do let go of the needle since I am a thrower of the yarn. My stitches are very even and I get consistent gauge that rarely changes.

  14. Loved your tutorial and all the knitting wisdom you’ve shared. Although I usually don’t have a problem with tight bind off, you’ve shown me why and will make it much easier to help some of my friends who are new knitters get over this problem. This has been difficult because I’ve been knitting a loooooong time and had worked out most of these tension issues on my own so long ago that they are automatic so it is hard to isolate the specific detail of the causes and cures.

    1. Ginni, I really appreciate your comment. As you can imagine, it was also hard for me to slow down and think through these tension issues that I, like you, don’t have anymore. :)

  15. Love all your hints and info you pass along to us. Thank you so much. My question is a bit off topic however. I was wondering if you would tell me what brand knitting needles these are in the photo with the colored barrels and silver tips? I haven’t seen these before.

    1. I love all the hints and info you pass to me. I’m not much of a computer person. March 8th I would love to get your e-book, not sure how I’d do that. I like things that I can go back and look at until I get it mastered. I’ve used so many of your help me fix my mistakes. Thank you. Jile

      1. Hi Jille, I’m so glad you like my tutorials and want to get the ebook on the 8th. On the 8th, I’ll email you a link to buy the book, and I’ll also give you a coupon code to use.

        When you get the book, you’ll receive a special link to the class, as well as a way to download a PDF with the videos in it. You can come back to the class at any time, in fact, I’ve designed it to work as a convenient reference for students to come back to over and over.

        Also, Erica, our customer support guru, is always available to help you with anything if you email [email protected].

  16. Thank you so much for the patience you put in trying to find tips for all of us knitters – new and old – I practice all your tips and they work wonderfully. You’re a genius at this activity and congratulations! I communicated your site to my group of knitters – they love it!
    LOL, Odile
    p.s. I am a spinner and people watching me spinning use to say: ‘What a patience you have’ and I respond:’ Oh no! It’s passion!!!’ No doubt it’s you case too!

  17. Liat, I am so glad that I discovered you! I have learned so much from you and my knitting has definitely improved because of it. You are my first ‘go-to’ person when I have a question!

  18. Great tutorial, your photos are fantastic! My 9 year old is learning to knit and I will definitely be sharing this with her. Looking forward to your book!

  19. I have been knitting for over 40 years– I wish I had your tips from the beginning before bad habits took hold.
    But even better, I keep learning new things from you almost every day!
    You are a practical, inspiring, awesome teacher!
    Thank you so much!

  20. Just last night I was binding off the end of a triangular shawl and was really frustrated that the stitches were too tight. Wish I had been able to see this last night. I thought about the larger needle, but ended up just making my stitch larger. Is there a more “elastic” bind off than the typical knit, pass stitch over?

    1. Hi Janet, yes, there are many! In fact, there is a great bind-off called the Elastic Bind-Off. I teach 12 stretchy bind-offs in my upcoming ebook, I Love Bind-Offs, coming March 8th. If your triangular shawl is a lace shawl, I’d recommend you try the Frilled Standard Bind-Off.

      If it’s not, you may want to try the Icelandic Bind-Off. Both of those are good choices, however, you’ll have a huge selection of great stretchy bind-offs starting March 8th.

  21. I’m looking forward to learning how to accomplish a stretchier bind off. I’ve been knitting for sixty years, but you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

  22. I’ve been knitting for over 50 years and have always used the same 3 ways of binding off. I’m looking forward to getting your new book and wowing myself with new skillzz! LOL

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