Not all bind-offs are created equal
Just as there are many ways to cast on in knitting, so there are also many ways to bind off (or cast off). Most of you are probably familiar with the knitted bind-off, but many other ways of binding off may serve your knitting better.
Depending on what you are knitting, you might want (or even need) to vary your binding off method. Some knitting requires a very firm bind-off edge. Others may require a far looser edge. Still others require a very elastic edge.
While many knitting patterns suggest a cast-on method, I personally have found that far fewer recommend a bind-off method. That’s why it is very important to have a good repertoire of bind-off techniques.
Bind-Off Methods and Their Purposes
Knitted Bind-Off: This is the method you probably learned when you first learned to knit, so I won’t post a link to a tutorial here. (You know the one: knit two stitches, slip the first completed stitch over the second, knit another stitch, slip first over second, and repeat.) It’s a good, basic bind-off for projects with secure edges like blankets and scarves.
Suspended Bind-Off: This is somewhat similar to the knitted bind-off in its result, but unless you’re already a very loose knitter, this is much stretchier. Check out the video below from Very Pink Knits — after demonstrating how much stretchier the suspended bind-off is, she’ll show you how to do it.
Sewn Bind-Off: Created by Elizabeth Zimmerman, this bind-off is meant to complement long-tail cast-on. It can be either stretchy or secure, depending on how tightly it is worked. The link here shows both a written and illustrated description as well as a video.
Decrease or Lace Bind-Off: So named as this bind-off is frequently used for lace projects, although it can be used for any project in which a nice, stretchy edge is desired.
It’s really quite simple: you knit two together, either through the front or back loops (depending on how you want it to look), then move the created stitch to the left needle and repeat. (You can do the same on the purl side of a project.) An illustration of this bind-off is shown in the link.
Tubular or Invisible Bind-Off: This is the perfect bind-off to use for any ribbed edge, as it conforms to that edge beautifully. It’s unique in that it doesn’t leave a ridge, which is why it’s sometimes called an “invisible” bind-off. Like the sewn bind-off, it uses a tapestry needle, but it’s considerably more complex. ]
Below you’ll find two videos, one for 1×1 ribbing and the other for 2×2 ribbing. You’ll want to watch them several times and, most likely, start on a swatch to get the hang of it. You might not want to try it for the first time on an actual project!
Jeny’s Surprisingly Strechy Bind-Off: This bind-off was designed to be a complement to Judy’s Magic-Cast-On and be perfect for sock cuffs. It is perhaps the most elastic bind-off around. (It’s my absolute favorite for toe-up socks and top-down mittens!)
I find the illustrated Knitty article in the link easy to follow, but if you’d prefer a video tutorial, the one below from Bloomingknitter is helpful too.
The next time you are ready to bind off your knitting, consider using one of these methods to really make your project shine!