Knitting Binding Off: The Finish Line for All Your Hard Work

The end of your knitting is just as important as the beginning and the middle! Learn the simplest method for binding off knitting projects with this step-by-step tutorial.

Binding Off Knitting Tutorial on Bluprint

Casting on and binding off are just as important as the actual knitting, as they can be crucial to a project’s stability and the appearance of those final edges.

Here we’ll demonstrate two basic methods of how to bind-off. Most garments, scarves and shawls require some kind of bind-off, so it’s important to learn this essential skill. Your first bind-off might look a little messy, but frequent practice will help you achieve a neat and tidy final edge.

Note that not all project need a bind-off: Hats worked from the brim up, mittens, gloves or shawls worked from the bottom up likely require simply sewing closed the remaining handful of stitches left at the top of the hat, tips of fingers and so forth. 

Knitted bind-off tutorial

The first bind-off is the standard knitwise bind-off, which produces a neat, even edge appropriate for all kinds of projects. It is not very flexible, however, which is the main downside.

Step 1: Knit the first stitch.

Knit One Stitch on the Last Row of Work One Knit Stitch on the Right Needle

Begin by inserting your needle through the first stitch on the work, with the right side facing you. Work this stitch as a regular knit stitch.

Step 2: Knit the second stitch and pass the first stitch over.

Two Knit Stitches on the Right Needle Pass the First Stitch Over the Second Stitch on the Right Needle

Next, knit the second stitch on the needle. Then, pull the first knitted stitch over the second one and drop the first stitch off the needle.

One Bound off Knit Stitch

You have now bound off one stitch.

Step 3: Repeat as needed

Binding Off Knitting Halfway Done

Continue the steps in Part 2. That is, knit one stitch, then slip the previous stitch over the new stitch and off the needle. Repeat this until all stitches have been bound off.

Halfway Through Knitted Bind Off

Step 4: Fasten off your yarn

When there is just the final stitch remaining on the right hand needle, cut the working yarn and pull it through the final stitch, completing the edge.

Three-needle bind-off

The three-needle bind-off is a popular one for edges that need some stability, since the alternative of grafting live stitches would prove too stretchy and saggy over time. It’s also useful for edges that involve both knit and purl stitches, since the bind-off work occurs on the inside of the work and does not show on finished garments.

You’ll commonly find three-needle bind-off in use on shoulder seams, the top of hoods on hooded sweaters or to fasten together two ends of a neckline that meet at the back of a collar.

Step 1: Arrange your stitches on two needles.

Align Knitted Stitches Evenly on Two NeedlesPrepare Two Pieces of Knitting for a Three-Needle Bind-Off

First, arrange your stitches on two needles or at either end of the same circular needle, and then turn each one so that the wrong side is facing. This might take a bit of fiddling around or rearranging of stitches. Ideally, you will have the working yarn still attached to one of the pieces of work, but if not, you can start with a fresh length of yarn and weave in the end later.

Step 2: Knit two stitches, one from each needle, together.

Knit Two Stitches Together From Each Needle

Next, insert your third needle knitwise through the first stitch on each needle. Wrap the yarn as if to knit and knit these two stitches together. Let the first stitch from each of the parallel needles to fall off.

One Stitch Knit for the Three-Needle Bind-Off

You’ll have one stitch on your third needle.

Step 3: Knit two together, then pass the first stitch over.

Two Stitches on the Right Needle for a Three-Needle Bind-OffPass the First Stitch Over the Second Stitch

Repeat Step 2, knitting two stitches together. Then, with one of the left hand needles, pull the first stitch over top of the second stitch and let it fall off the needle, just like in a regular knitwise bind-off.

One Stitch Bound Off in Three-Needle Bind Off

You have now bound off one stitch.

Halfway Through a Three-Needle Bind Off

Step 4: Repeat as needed.

Continue these last two steps until all stitches have been bound off. As you can see, this method works when there is an equal number of stitches on each piece of fabric involved. The finished result is very neat from the outside.

Joining Two Pieces of Knitting With a Three-Needle Bind Off

Some tips for binding off:

  • Be aware of your tension. No matter what technique you are using, if you find your bind-off edge is starting to tighten up and make the fabric pucker, it is too snug and you should move up at least one needle size in order to execute your bind-off.
  • Take your time. A rushed bind-off can end up leaving a stitch or two behind, and there’s nothing quite so harrowing as a loose stitch left out of a bind-off! Make sure your final work gets the time and attention it deserves.

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