Binding or Casting

To finish your knitted piece, you have to bind off, which is securing the stitches in the last row worked so that they don't unravel. It's easy to do if you follow these basic steps:

  1. Knit the first 2 stitches from the LH needle. These become the first 2 stitches on your RH needle (see Figure 4-17a).
  2. With your LH needle in front of your RH needle, insert the LH needle into the first stitch worked on the RH needle (the one on the right, as shown in Figure 4-17b).
  3. Bring this loop over the second stitch and off the tip of the RH needle, as shown in Figure 4-17c.

At this point, you have 1 stitch bound off and 1 stitch remaining on your RH needle.

  1. Knit the next stitch on the LH needle so that you again have 2 stitches on your RH needle.
  2. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 until you have 1 stitch remaining on your RH needle.
  3. Cut the yarn a few inches from the needle and pull the tail through the last stitch to lock it.

Figure 4-17:

Bind off a stitch.

If the piece you've just bound off is to be sewn to another piece, leave a tail that's 12 inches long or longer for a built-in strand to sew up a seam.

Just as a casting on evenly gives the bottom edge of your piece a neat appearance, binding off evenly ensures a neat top edge. Here are some suggestions for getting an attractive edge:

  • The loop below the last bind-off stitch is often (for some mysterious reason) big and baggy. To tighten it up, when you come to the last stitch (1 stitch on the RH needle and 1 stitch on the LH needle), slip the last stitch on the RH needle back to the LH needle. Insert the tip of the RH needle into the left stitch on the LH needle and bring it over the right stitch and off the needle — binding off in the reverse direction. Cut the yarn and draw the tail through the remaining loop.
  • Unless otherwise told to do so, always bind off according to the stitch pattern given. If you would normally be working a purl row, purl the stitches as you bind off instead of knitting them.
  • Don't bind off too tightly (which, unfortunately, is easy to do). Knitting should be elastic, especially around neck edges if you want to be able to get a sweater on and off comfortably (and who doesn't want that?). To avoid a tight and inelastic bound edge, try working the bind-off row on a needle one or more sizes larger than what you've been using.
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