Your project is finished. You’ve got your 6-foot scarf or your 30-inch baby blanket. You’ve worked the last row of the border. Now how do you get your work off the needle?
If it’s been a while since you’ve finished a project, or this is your first one, here’s a quick refresher on how to cast off a knitting project.
Note: Casting off and binding off are interchangeable terms. I use casting off for no reason other than personal preference.
The most basic cast off in knitting is created by alternating a knit stitch with a passed-over stitch. To start, knit the first two stitches on your cast-off row.
Now you’re ready to start passing stitches over. Insert the tip of the left-hand needle into the farthest stitch on the right-hand needle.
Now pull that stitch on the tip of the left needle over the stitch that remains on the right needle. Pull it all the way over the tip of the right needle and let it slip off both needles.
You have now cast off your first stitch. Then, knit the next stitch on the left needle. After that, pass the far stitch on the right needle over. Keep alternating like this until you have only one stitch remaining on the right needle.
Cut your yarn about 6 inches away from the last stitch. Stretch out that last stitch on the needle and remove the needle.
Insert your yarn tail through that last stitch and pull it taut. Boom, you’re done! There’s no need to tie a knot or anything. Just make sure as you weave in your ends that you don’t inadvertently take your yarn tail back out the way it came in. I have done that before, but fortunately caught what I was doing before the whole thing started to unravel.
To see all of the steps put together, watch this video tutorial.
This is the most basic, standard method of casting off. Unless your pattern specifies a cast-off method, this is what the pattern writer most likely had in mind.
This cast-off method can also be worked as purlwise. The steps are all the exact same, you’re just purling instead of knitting.
Some patterns call for the project to be cast off in the pattern. This is common when you are working a rib pattern or some other combination of knits and purls. When casting off a knitting project in the pattern, whether you knit or purl, your next stitch will be dictated by the pattern. Think about the cast-off row as just the next row in the pattern. Knit into stitches where you would knit, purl stitches where the pattern would call for a purl. This cast off can be a little more flexible and can look nicer.
Anytime you are casting off using the basic method, be careful not to pull your cast-off row too tight. If you leave a little give, you will have a much easier time squaring up your project when blocking. Trust me — I tend to cast off too tight and no amount of blocking can fix a too-tight cast off.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, check out some of the more advanced cast-off methods featured in The Knitter’s Handbook. And to learn more knitting essentials, enroll in Knit Lab with Stefanie Japel. You may also enjoy our post on blocking your knitting.