The final step to finishing your knitting is binding off your knitting project.
It’s a very important step to learn because the bind off is what keeps your knitting from unraveling.
Don’t worry, though. It’s easy to do and can be really useful, and not just for finishing your knitting.
Before we jump ahead, allow me to detail what this Knitting 101 blog post is all about.
In this knitting tutorial, you will learn:
- the difference between a bind off and a cast off.
- the basic bind off and when to use it.
- how to cast off your knitting + photo tutorial.
Let’s begin with what many beginner knitters find confusing.
Bind Off or Cast Off?
As a self-taught knitter, I can tell you this one had me confused in the beginning. I mean, is it called a bind off or a cast off? Are they different things? Are they the same thing?
Like so many things in knitting, it always comes down to vocabulary differences between the U.S. and the UK.
In American English, we say bind off. In British English, they say cast off. That’s it.
As far as the knitting technique itself, there is no physical difference in how you bind off or cast off so you can rest easy.
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And seeing as I’m addressing a mixed crowd, I will employ both versions throughout this blog post. Just FYI and hopefully there’s no further confusion.
Moving on to the bind off.
The Basic Bind Off
The knitting technique demonstrated in this knitting tutorial is the standard bind off. It is also known as the basic bind off or cast off.
This method is the most commonly known and used by knitters.
As you can see in this knit baby blanket, it makes a neat, tidy edge and has a stretchiness to it, if done properly.
When to Use the Basic Bind Off
In cases where you have a knitting pattern that simply states “bind off”, this method would suit. Additionally, if the pattern said “use your favorite stretchy bind off”, you could use this type of cast off.
To summarize, you’d use this type of cast off for:
- knitting patterns that don’t list a specific bind off knitting method.
- knitting projects that require a loose or stretchy bind off.
- knit pieces that you need to seam together.
In the following photos, I’ll show you how to cast off knitting. Here I'll explain how to bind off knitwise and purlwise, how to bind off in pattern, and in the round.
Ok, let’s learn how to cast off.
How to Bind Off Knitwise
When you reach the last row of your knitting project, follow these steps to cast off your knitting.
First, set up your bind off by knitting the first two stitches on your knitting needle.
Next, insert your left needle into the first stitch you knit on your right needle. This will be the stitch in the back.
Now, lift the first stitch over the second stitch and drop it off the needle.
You will now have one stitch on your right needle.
Now, knit another stitch from your left needle. You will, again, have two stitches on your right needle.
Repeat the process of lifting the back stitch over the front stitch and dropping it off the needle. Then, knit another stitch.
Every time you have two stitches on your right needle you will repeat the process as before. You will repeat these steps until all stitches have been knit and only one stitch remains.
Finally, with the last stitch on your needle, cut your yarn. Be sure to leave a 4" - 6” tail to weave in later. That's one way on how to finish your knitting.
Draw the yarn tail through the last loop and pull it snug. This will keep your project from unraveling.
As you bind off remember to keep your tension relaxed (but not loose!). Too tight and the edge will pucker. Too loose and it will look sloppy.
TIP: If you tend to knit tightly, bind off with one needle size larger. This will ensure a nice, elastic bind off edge that looks tidy.
How to Bind Off Purlwise
If your pattern calls for a cast off in purl stitch, this is easy to do.
The cast off is like the knit bind off. You just need to make one small change. Instead of knitting the stitches in the cast off row, you would purl them.
Don’t know how to purl yet? That’s ok. We've got you covered. You can quickly learn how to purl with our photo tutorial.
Just repeat the process as you did for the knitwise bind off until you’ve worked all the stitches. And remember to keep an eye on your knitting tension. You want a loose bind off in knitting to ensure that neat, stretchy edge.
These are the two basic knitting cast offs that you should learn. Now we’ll combine these knitting techniques to discuss the next method: how to bind off in pattern.
How to Bind Off in Pattern
Without question, you’ll eventually come across knitting instructions that tell you to bind off in pattern. When a knitting pattern asks you to do this, it means you will continue to work the stitch pattern as you cast off.
One easy example to show how to bind off in pattern is to bind off in rib. Let’s take a look at the Emerald Song Headband pattern shown earlier in this blog post.
When it comes to the rib knit cast off for this pattern, it is a simple knit 2, purl 1 (k2, p1). So in this case, you will begin with two knit stitches as in the knitwise bind off and shown below.
Next, pass the first stitch over the second stitch to bind off one stitch.
Now, as you’ve already knit the first two stitches of the K2, P2 pattern, the next step is to purl. Move your working yarn to the front and then purl the next stitch.
While continuing in pattern, cast off each stitch as usual until they've all been worked.
How to Bind Off in the Round
When you need to bind off knitting in the round, you will simply follow one of the previous methods shown above. It’s as easy as that.
The only thing that will be different is the way the yarn rests when knitting in the round compared to flat knitting.
When you’re knitting back and forth (flat), the yarn sits evenly and flat. When you are knitting in the round, the yarn is coiling in circles. As such, the final cast off stitch will look a little uneven.
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But no worries. This uneven look can be remedied when you weave in your yarn tail.
Ultimately, the important thing to remember when binding off your knitting is that the action remains the same. The only thing that changes is the way you work your stitches.
In other words, whether you're binding off knitwise or purlwise, or binding off in pattern, it’s is only a matter of remembering whether you knit or purl next. This applies not only to rib knitting but to any stitch pattern. This is true of flat knitting AND knitting in the round.
As long as you can remember this, you’ll have no trouble using these cast off knitting techniques.
I hope you found this bind off knitting tutorial to be helpful and that you feel more confident about cast offs and bind offs. If you enjoyed it, please drop me a line and say hello. I'd love to hear from you.