Socktoberfest: Your Best Bind-Off for Toe-Up Socks

Knitting toe-up socks lets you use every last yard of your beautiful hand-dyed sock yarn! But choosing the right bind-off is important. After knitting a whole pair of socks, you don’t want to choose a bind-off method that is too tight to pull over your heel or lets your socks fall down around your ankles. Try completing a pair of toe-up socks with one of these four methods and see how a stretchy and attractive bind-off gives a comfortable finish with style.

Doubled Bind-off

This bind-off is related to the standard bind-off, but it has more give.

toe-up socks

YOU WILL NEED Your knitting needles and enough working yarn to knit about 2 rounds, plus a tapestry needle for weaving in ends.

STEP 1 K1, *k1, insert left needle into fronts of 2 stitches on right needle (Figure 1) and knit them tog through back loop (tbl); rep from * around.

STEP 2 To make a seamless join at the end of the bind-off, cut the yarn, leaving a 6” (15 cm) tail. Pull the last stitch on the right needle, making it bigger, until the tail pops through and the last stitch disappears. Thread the tail onto a tapestry needle. Insert the tapestry needle under the legs of the first stitch of the bind-off, which looks like the start of a crocheted chain, and pull the yarn through. Then insert the tapestry needle into the top of the last stitch bound off (the same place where the tail comes out) and snug until the new chain blends with the other bind-off chains (Figure 2).

Weave in ends. This produces a continuous chain around the bound-off edge.

PROS No grafting or sewing required.
CONS Not as stretchy as other methods.

TIP Holding a larger needle in the right hand will make this bind-off looser.

Invisible Sewn Bind-off

This bind-off makes an unassuming, attractive edge that is surprisingly elastic. It’s especially effective for a garter-stitch cuff, but it also works well for ribbing.

toe-up socks

YOU WILL NEED A tapestry needle and a yarn tail 4 times the circumference of your sock.

STEP 1 Thread the tail onto a tapestry needle.

STEP 2 Insert the tapestry needle knitwise (kwise) into the second stitch on the left needle and pull the yarn through to the back. Insert the tapestry needle purlwise (pwise) into the first stitch on the left needle (Figure 1), pull the yarn through to the front, and transfer this stitch pwise to the right needle. Repeat this step once more.

STEP 3 Insert the tapestry needle kwise into the second stitch on the left needle and pull the yarn through. Insert the tapestry needle pwise into the first stitch on the left needle and pull the yarn through. Drop the first stitch off the left needle. Repeat this step until 2 stitches remain.

STEP 4 Insert the tapestry needle kwise into the second stitch on the left needle and pull the yarn through. Drop both stitches off the left needle.

PROS Very stretchy and inobtrusive; works for a variety of stitch patterns.
CONS Can be a bit fiddly to work.

VARIATION To make the purl bumps show on the right side of the work, substitute “purlwise” for “knitwise” and “knitwise” for “purlwise” in the above instructions.

TIP Don’t pull the working yarn too tightly; make sure there is enough give for the bind-off to remain stretchy.

Kitchener Bind-off

This makes a beautiful edge for 1×1 rib (or 2×2 rib; see variation). It works like a standard Kitchener stitch, dividing the stitches onto two needles and grafting them together.

toe-up socks

YOU WILL NEED Two spare double-pointed or circular needles (can be smaller than the ones used for your sock); a tapestry needle; and a yarn tail 4 times the circumference of your sock.

STEP 1 Arrange stitches so that the first stitch on the left needle is a knit stitch. If your first stitch is a purl, purl it onto the right needle so that the first stitch on the left needle is a knit.

STEP 2 Using the two spare needles, slip the knit stitches onto one needle and the purl stitches onto another. (Slip about one-third to one-fourth of your total stitches to begin; as you work the stitches off, you can transfer more.) Hold the needle with the knit stitches to the front and the needle with the purl stitches behind it.

STEP 3 With the tail threaded on a tapestry needle, insert the tapestry needle knitwise (kwise) into the first stitch on the front needle, transfer this stitch to the right needle, then insert the tapestry needle purlwise (pwise) into the next stitch on the front needle and pull the yarn through (Figure 1).

TIP Always make sure the yarn goes under the needles, not over the top.

STEP 4 Insert the tapestry needle pwise into the first stitch on the back needle, transfer this stitch to the right needle, then insert the tapestry needle kwise into the next stitch on the back needle and pull the yarn through (Figure 2).

STEP 5 Insert the tapestry needle kwise into the first stitch on the front needle and slip it onto the tapestry needle, then insert the tapestry needle pwise into the next stitch on the front needle and pull the yarn through; don’t drop this stitch off the front needle.

STEP 6 Insert the tapestry needle pwise into the first stitch on the back needle and slip it onto the tapestry needle, then insert the tapestry needle kwise into the next stitch on the back needle and pull the yarn through; don’t drop this stitch off the back needle.

Work Kitchener stitch until one stitch remains on each needle. Drop these stitches off the needles

PROS Invisible and very stretchy.
CONS Only works for 1×1 and 2×2 ribbing; requires grafting.

VARIATION For 2×2 rib, begin with a single knit stitch on the left needle (followed by two purl stitches). If the left needle begins with two knit stitches, knit the first stitch onto the right needle. Proceed as for 1×1 rib.

TIP After every few stitches, pull on the bound-off edge to make sure it has enough give. Don’t pull the bind-off too tight.

Sideways Bind-off

This isn’t really a bind-off at all; it’s a way to secure the stitches on the needle while adding a decorative edge. It’s just like working a sideways edging on a shawl. Because there isn’t really a bound-off edge, you don’t have to worry about having enough stretch in the bind-off. General instructions are given here, but any stitch pattern can be used.

toe-up socks

YOU WILL NEED A spare double-pointed or straight needle in the same size as for the rest of the sock, plenty of working yarn, and a tapestry needle to weave in ends.

Step 1 Cast on the number of stitches needed for your edging.

Step 2 (RS) Work in cuff patt to last edging st, ssk (last edging st tog with next sock st), turn.

Step 3 (WS) Work in patt to end of edging.

Step 4 Repeat Steps 2–3 (Figure 1) until all sock stitches have been joined to the edging.

Step 5 Sew the live stitches to the cast-on stitches.

PROS This is an opportunity to add a stitch pattern, such as lace or a cabled edging, to complement the rest of the sock. (See the Muscadine Socks for one example.)
CONS Requires more yarn than other bind-offs

VARIATION Begin with the provisional cast-on of your choice. After working all the way around the sock, remove the provisional cast-on and graft the revealed stitches to the live edging stitches.

TIP Replacing the ssk with a different decrease gives a different effect. Try k2tog, k2tog tbl, p2tog, ssp, etc.

What’s your favorite method for binding-off toe-up socks?


Toe-Up Socks? Yes, Please!

 

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