While there are any number of ways to Cast on, there are, to my knowledge, many fewer ways to bind or cast off.
Standard Bind Off
This is the most common bind off:
K1 *K1, pass first knit stitch over just knit stitch, K1. Repeat from * till there are no more titches to knit, cut or break yarn, pass tail of yarn through last knit stitch loop and pull closed.
Variation include binding off in pattern--instead of knitting each stitch, work stitch as it appears (knit or purl as case may be--such as bind off in ribbing.)
And the 3 needle bind off --with a three needle bind off, 2 pieces of knitting are held parallel, (right sides face, or wrong sides facing--depending on desired finished effect) in the left hand. 3 needle bind off only works when both pieces of knitting have an equal number of stitches.
To bind off using the 3 needle bind off method, make a stitch by working the first stitch from front piece and the first stitch of back piece of knitting together. *Make the next stitch the same way, and then pass the first stitch over the second, (as in standard knitting)
Note: There tricks and persnickety details to make the last stitch bound off look nicer--Both for flat knitting and when binding off in the round.
Russian Bind Off
* P2tog tbl, return the resulting stitch to left needle --stretching the stitch (loosening tension) on it as you do so. Repeat from *, till there are no more stitches to knit, cut or break yarn, pass tail of yarn through last knit stitch loop and pull closed.
Crochet Bind Off
Both the Standard and Russian bind offs can be done using a crochet hook in the right hand instead of a knitting needle. A crochet hook 1 or 2 sizes larger than the corresponding knitting needle helps keep the bind off loose and stretchy, with out looking sloppy.
In addition, a crocheted cast off is often used for lace bind offs. Especially in the case where a number (3 to 7 or even more) of stitches are worked together, (KX tog) and then the yarn is used to create a crochet chain stitch between the grouped stitches. This leaves an attractive picot like edge.
These three bind offs, and variations, all result in a ‘chain stitch’ on the bound off edge.
Tubular or Grafted Bind Off
Particularly suited for 1 X 1 ribbing, a tubular bind off is identical in appearance to a tubular cast on.
To enhance the appearance, work 2 or more rows of simple double knitting before grafting.
Simple double knitting is normal worked over an even number of stitches:
* K1, bring yarn forward (as if to purl), slip 1, bring the yarn back (as if to knit) repeat from * (pattern is worked the same on all rows.)
When worked on odd number of stitches, end with a K1, and on row 2, start with a slip stitch and end with a slip stitch.
Sewn (aka EZ’s sewn/back stitch bind off)
A sewn bind off is the closest in appearance to Long Tail cast on. It’s done by sewing a a form of a back or double stitch--Aka 2 forward, 1 back (drop one off) through each stitch.
After working last row, cut yarn, leaving a tail at least 3 times longer than edge to be bound off.
Thread tail onto tapestry needle
Pass tapestry needle through Stitch 1 and Stitch 2 on needle. Repeat once. Then let first stitch drop off needle. *Pass tapestry needle through new ‘stitch 1 and stitch 2’, and let stitch 1 drop off needle.
Drawstring Bind Off
Cut yarn, leaving a tail of 6 or more inches
Thread tail onto tapestry needle and starting at stitch 1, pass tapestry needle through every stitch. Repeat once. Then working slowly and gently pull drawstring tight, (knot) and weave in tail.
Picot Bind Off
An other variation of the standard Bind off.
Bind of a number of stitches (2 to 5), turn work, and using a knit cast on, cast on a number of stitches. Turn work again, bind off the just cast on stitches, and a number more. It looks best when numbers are paired and consistent --bind off 3, *cast on 3, bind off 3 just cast on, and 3 more.(6 bound off) repeat from *.
A nice detail is to make sure the picots are centered --even if you have to do 1 or 2 more (or fewer) plain bind off stitches at the beginning and end of the row.
All bind off methods run the risk of being tighter than the rows of knitting that proceed.
If you have trouble keeping your bind off loose and stretchy, try using a right hand needle (for Standard, Russian or crocheted bind off) that is 2 or 3 sizes larger than the needle used for the knitting.
Edging (as bind off)
Many laces are not bound off at all (in the conventional sense) but are finished by knitting on edging. The outer edge of the lace forms the ‘bound off edge’, on the inner edge, the last stitch of the edging pattern is a K(or P)2 tog, that eliminates the ‘live stitch”.
The simplest edging is I-cord.
--Finish last row of knitting, cast on 3 (use simple, knit or cable cast on) then pick up a single DPN (usually 1 to 2 sizes larger than size use to knit the piece), and *K 2, then K2tog. Return these stitches to main needle and repeat from * until all stitches have been bound off, and only 3 I-cord stitches remain. Bind these three stitches off (standard bind off or your choice.)
The list of edging (besides I-cord) that can be used, fills books.
(see Nicky Epstien’s Knitting On the Edge and Knitting Over the Edge for several hundred examples of edgings.)
Is an option for finishing knitting with out having a bound off edge
“Life stitches”--from a provisional cast on, can be grafted to the last row of knitting.
The last row of knitting can also be grafted to a bound off edge (half grafting) or to a conventional cast on, such as Long tail.
Many of the web pages, blog and, especially the books listed in the Cast on Reference list include directions for these bind offs.
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