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May 27, 2021

Do you struggle with tight bind offs? Whether you’re knitting a toe-up sock, a top-down sweater, or a lacy shawl, a bind off that’s too tight can really get in the way of enjoying your finished project! Here are 3 easy methods to work a stretchy bind-off without sewing.

If you tend to knit tightly, you may also want to go up a needle size to bind off.

P2tog Bind-off

This purl-based bind-off is often worked from the wrong side, although you can also use it on the right side for a decorative ridge.

Step 1. Purl the first 2 stitches together (p2tog). There is now one st on the right needle.

Step 2. Slip it back to the left needle without twisting.

Repeat these 2 steps until only 1 stitch remains.

K2togtbl, K1 Bind-off

This bind-off is similar to the p2tog bind-off above, but worked knitwise through the back loops. Working an extra stitch between the decreases provides even more elasticity.

Step 1. Knit the first two stitches.

Step 2. Insert the left needle tip into the front of these two stitches on the right needle.

Knit the 2 stitches together through the back loop (k2tog tbl).

Step 3. Knit 1 stitch from the left needle. There are now two stitches on the right needle.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have 2 stitches left, then work step 2 once more.

Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off

Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy bind-off, originally published in Knitty (https://knitty.com/ISSUEfall09/FEATjssbo.php) combines the traditional bind off with yarn overs for extra elasticity, without requiring a super long tail or sewing. Knit and purl stitches are treated slightly differently while working this bind-off.

Step 1: Knit or purl the first stitch as needed.

Step 2: If the next stitch is a knit, work a reverse yarn over, bringing the yarn over the right needle then to the back. If the next stitch is a purl, work a standard yarn over.

Step 3: Knit or purl the next stitch.

Step 4: Using the left needle tip, catch the yarn over and previous stitch and pull them over the last stitch on the right needle.

Repeat steps 2-4 until all sts have been worked.

Video showing how to work Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy bind-off knitwise

jeny's suprisingly stretchy bind off from Ysolda Teague on Vimeo.

Using Jeny's Suprsingly Stretchy Bind-off for ribbing

This method works really well as a bind-off for ribbing, and is perfect for ribbed edges that you want to be really stretchy. It's a great choice if you're binding off a toe-up sock cuff, or as a bind-off for the neckband of a toddler sweater – you won't have to worry about getting it over their big head! 

Follow the directions above, knitting the knits and purling the purls, and basing the yarn over direction on whether the next stitch is a knit or purl. 

The result is a decorative edge with a slightly knotted appearance with great stretch and recovery. 

Bonus tip – for a neat finish using any of these 3 stretchy bind-off methods

When you’ve finished binding off, cut the yarn. Instead of threading it through the last stitch, pull the loop of the stitch until the end pops out. That way you won't get a little "ear" that sticks out at the end of the bind-off.

Which stretchy bind-off to use?

The p2tog and k2togtbl bind-offs have the closest appearance to a traditional bind-off, while Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy bind-off results in a more decorative, rounded edge. Both have great stretch, depending on your tension and the yarn used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy bind-off tends to be slightly stretchier. Which you use is personal preference and may depend on your project or yarn. If you're not sure you can always try binding off a few stitches using each method on a swatch to compare.

BONUS TECHNIQUE: Tubular Bind off

For the ultimate seamless, elastic edge for your ribbed sweater edges, sock cuffs and top-down hats, try a Tubular bind off! A tubular bind off requires more forethought than the ones we covered today, but it’s worth it for the excellent result. This sewn bind-off method essentially involves grafting the knit stitches to the purls. Learn how to work it with our step-by-step tutorial.

Image from Ravelry user Sawomuc who worked a tubular bind-off to finish the neckline of his Glenmore sweater.

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