Help, My Bind-Off Is too Tight!

How many times have you bound off too tightly? I hate to admit it, but I’ve done it a bunch of times. I think I’m just a tight “binder-offer,” because I can’t seem to get it exactly right.

I used to just go up a needle size or two when binding off, which works well when the piece is being used, but it looks loose and wavy when the piece isn’t on the body. I don’t much care about this for my own things, but if I’m knitting a gift for someone, I want it to look perfect.

Enter Ann Budd and her fabulous video workshop, 45+ Knitted Cast-Ons and Bind-Offs. I tried the suspended bind-off, and it really helped me loosen up my bind-off edge. I use this bind-off all the time instead of the standard bind-off, which always turns out too tight for me. Here’s how you work it:

The Suspended Bind-Off
This method is similar to the standard bind-off but produces a more elastic edge. This bind-off is especially good for knitters who tend to bind-off too tightly; use it when you want to make sure your bind-off isn’t too tight.Slip one stitch, knit one stitch, *insert left needle tip into first stitch on right needle and lift the first st over the second (Figure 1), leaving the first stitch on the left needle, knit the next stitch (Figure 2), then slip both stitches off the left needle-two stitches remain on right needle and one stitch has been bound off (Figure 3). Repeat from * until no stitches remain on left needle, then pass first st on right needle over the second.

When knitting socks toe-up, it’s imperative to cast off loosely so that you can get the sock over your heel and up your calf. Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn bind-off is brilliant, just like the woman herself. Here’s how you work it:

The Sewn Bind-Off
Figure 1 Figure 2
This method, popularized by Elizabeth Zimmermann, forms an exceedingly elastic edge that has a ropy appearance, much like a purl row. Work this bind-off with a tapestry needle.Cut the yarn three times the width of the knitting to be bound off, and thread onto a tapestry needle. Working from right to left, *insert tapestry needle purlwise (from right to left) through first two stitches (Figure 1) and pull the yarn through, then bring needle knitwise (from left to right) through the first stitch (Figure 2), pull the yarn through, and slip this stitch off the knitting needle. Repeat from *.

The stretchy bind-off is particularly useful in toe-up socks, along cuffs, or any other edge that needs to stretch and then snap back into shape. To learn more knitting techniques, check out Craft Daily! It’s an amazing video resource. Ann Budd’s cast-on workshop is there, along with lots of other video tutorials and Knitting Daily TV episodes. If you’re a visual learner, Craft Daily is definitely for you. Subscribe today and start watching.

And if you’re a sock knitter, check out our new eBook, Five Favorite Sock Patterns!


P.S. What’s your favorite cast-on or bind-off? Leave a comment below and tell us what it is and why!

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