Introduction to Bind-Offs
The Basics: What Is a Bind-Off?
A bind-off (also called “cast-off”) is what you do at the end of every project to get the knitting off your needles.
It is most often a horizontal chain of stitches going along the top of your knitting.
To do a basic bind-off, knit two stitches. Insert the left needle-tip into the second stitch on the right-hand needle and lift it over the first stitch and off the needle. Knit one more stitch and repeat the lifting-stitch-off move. Continue this way until you have one stitch left on your right needle. Cut yarn and pull through last stitch.
When to Bind Off
You’ll bind off any time that your pattern says “bind off” (abbreviated “BO”). This is mostly at the end of your project, but it can be in the middle if your pattern has an unusual shape.
Which Bind-Off to Use
Sometimes the pattern will give you a specific bind-off to use. Sometimes it will only suggest a general category, for example, “Bind off using a stretchy bind-off.” Most patterns just say, “Bind off,” and some don’t even tell you that.
Whether or not your pattern gives you specific suggestions, it’s always up to you to choose the right bind-off so that your project comes out the way you like.
Choosing the Right Bind-Off
There are many different bind-offs out there (around 60 or so), but most knitters get by with one or two basics.
In my experience, adding a few more bind-offs to your repertoire can make your projects come out looking nicer and working better.
In choosing a bind-off, think about the fact that the ideal bind-off plays nicely with the knitted fabric that you’re binding off.
It stretches out, lays flat, bunches in, or flares out the same amount as the rest of your fabric, so that it makes an edge that fits perfectly.
The ideal bind-off will also be within your current knitting abilities OR within the desire, willingness, and time you have available to stretch those boundaries.
Because the bind-off you choose needs to work well with the fabric you’re knitting and what you want to do with it, the bind-off tutorials in this course are organized by either the kinds of fabric they are good for or their main characteristics.
For instance, stretchy and ribbed bind-offs are in one section because ribbing is stretchy and you need stretchy bind-offs for ribbed fabric.
Here are the categories of bind-offs you’ll find in this course (they are also in the sidebar at left):
- Standard bind-offs (good for Stockinette stitch)
- Stretchy bind-offs (good for ribbing)
- Decorative bind-offs
- Seaming bind-offs
- Firm (non-stretchy) bind-offs
- Bind-offs for lace
- Bind-offs for garter stitch
- Bind-offs for seed stitch
- Two-color bind-offs
- Sloped bind-offs
Within the categories, the bind-offs are generally listed from easiest to hardest, with similar bind-offs near each other as often as possible so that you can compare them.
As a quick cheat-sheet, here are my favorite bind-offs — the bind-offs I myself would choose, all things being equal — for each type of fabric you might be knitting.
❤️ Favorite Bind-Off ❤️
|Stockinette Stitch||Standard Bind-Off: Top Variation|
|1×1 Rib||Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off (fast)
Tubular Bind-Off (invisible)
|2×2 Rib||Kitchener Double-Rib Bind-Off|
|Decorative||Knit 2 Together Bind-Off (pretty)
Picot/Purled Hemmed Edge Bind-Off (stretchy)
|Lace||Frilled Standard Bind-Off|
|Garter Stitch||Icelandic Bind-Off (fast)
Chinese Waitress Bind-Off (stretchy)
Latvian Bind-Off (stretchy)
List of Matching Bind-Offs and Cast-Ons
A lot of knitters like to plan ahead so that they can match their bind-off to their cast-on. When a bind-off has a matching cast-on, you’ll see the icon, and I’ll list the matching cast-on in the “About” section of the tutorial.
When should you choose a matching cast-on?
Matching your bind-off to your cast-on is appropriate on a project where you’re going to see both ends at the same time, for instance, on a scarf where, if you have it around your neck, you can see both ends.
Other times, it’s not so important to have a matching cast-on, and it would probably be better to match the edge to the fabric where you’re binding off or casting on.
For instance, if you’re doing a sweater that starts with ribbing around the bottom edge and ends with ribbing around the neckline, you might want to start with an easy and quick cast-on because you’re casting on a lot of stitches.
When you bind off, you might want to end with something that is stretchy and invisible because you’re going to see it and it also has to go over your head.
These are the kinds of things that you’ll learn as you read and work through this course.
I’ll be teaching you, especially as we get into each specific section, more and more about what each bind-off is good for so that you’ll be able to make a decision like the one I describe above, or, even better, the decision that is just right for you.
Here are all the bind-offs in this course that have matching cast-ons (links go to videos in the KnitFreedom Guide to Cast-Ons)