Ask Patty: How to Tidy Up That Bind-Off

January 15, 2020

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48 Comments
  • I’ve been knitting over 50 years, and I am still trying to figure out your comment “eastern purl”!!

    • There are only two places you can put your yarn around your working needle, under or over. A western purl wraps the yarn over the needle, Eastern (as pictured) the yarn wraps under.

  • I’ve been using method #3 for a long time, but I’m going to try some of the other methods too.
    Thanks Patty!

  • The big loose icky thing has been bothering me forever. Thank you!
    I have modified a few patterns to incorporate both knitting and crocheting (I wish more patterns did this as crocheted edgings on knitted items can often give you the best of both worlds). If you tell someone who does not knit or crochet that your piece is not one or the other but actually has both, their heads explode!

    • I love making knitted garments with crochet edges – even knowing how to do it, I still think it is magic!

  • As a knitter, I always notice the opposite – how often people refer to Knitting as Crocheting. Grr. I am learning to let it go. Re bind-offs – why is it that the best method of anything often involves the most steps?? I got lost after Step One but will save to follow when I actually come to it. It looks great!

    • I guess crochet is not so familiar to non-crafters and the word crocheting is more tricky to say as people are not sure whether to pronounce the “t”. (It doesn’t actually matter. )
      But if you compare it with the frustration musicians feel when violas – or worse still cellos – are called violins or oboes are called flutes or you see someone playing an instrument in a movie that they obviously can’t play or the music heard is obviously not the music being played or on the wrong instrument you will appreciate that knitters and crocheters are not the only ones with this problem.
      The best thing to do is to contact the writer and politely put them right and hope you have enlightened them. At least you have given some vent to your frustration and hope that it pays off!

  • Does anyone remember that animated “quilted brand” toilet paper commercial years ago where the chatting ladies were sitting around a quilt frame quilting the toilet paper WITH KNITTING NEEDLES!!! ?

    • I DO remember that! I also do embroidery and people tend to call that knitting, too. Or else they call it sewing. You just can’t win with some people.

    • YES!!! It drove me nuts every time I saw it.

    • Ooh that commercial annoyed me so much! And why are knitters always portrayed with needle tips pointed down?

      • Or a lot of time it looks like they have one or two stitches on their needles and are just kind of rotating them near each other haha.
        There was an episode of Crazy Ex Girlfriend where she was crocheting, someone complimented her knitting and her friend corrected them “actually it’s crochet.” I was so happy.

    • YES!! My dear Mother at the age of 89 actually that company on the phone to correct them – she was dumbfounded and bothered that “intelligent” advertising folks didn’t know the difference!

  • I have just been living with that awkward large stitch for as long as I’ve been knitting, but these methods are absolutely genius. I can’t wait to try them out on some of the projects i have going. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks for the helpful ideas. Do the same tricks work when the bind off is in the round?

    • I don’t generally bother because I use the tail to close the gap. I covered that in one of my earlier columns about working in the round.

  • Thank you for the options to fix the loose stitch at the end of the BO. Your last fix will become my go to. Oh so tidy.

  • Genius tips.

    This is like when people who don’t wear skirts or dresses can’t tell the difference, right? Someone (my son!) says “why don’t you wear that dress”, and you’re like, you can’t tell that’s a skirt? What’s wrong with you!

  • The sloppy reporting of crocheting/knitting reminds me of the old quilted bathroom tissue comercial showing a group of women wielding knitting needles to ‘quilt’ the tissue.

  • Oh Patty you are so funny. And very helpful. #5 – finally an excellent explanation with visual aids of what others have meant by picking up the stitch from the previous row and knitting it together with the last stitch, then pass the 2nd to last stitch over it. THANK YOU

  • I love this article! Thank you so much!

  • My husband’s aunt, 99 years old when she died and a Sister of Mercy for 80 years, was a prodigious seamstress. At her memorial service, we all heard how she sewed leisure suits for my husband’s older brothers and cousins in the 70’s, First Communion dresses for girls whose families couldn’t afford something fancy, and her own blue habits (navy for cold months, sky blue and short-sleeved for summer). Her entire extended family swapped stories about the quilted table runners, toilet tank covers, and plastic bag sacks we received every Christmas (the cow-printed pot holders are my most cherished gift–really.). But at her funeral, I was taken aback to hear the officiant mention her knitting. “I didn’t know Sr. Lenore knit,” I thought, as he went on about how she “knit and knit…clothes, curtains, gifts for her family…”. Ah, no. [shakes head]. The great holy mystery of the needles.

  • This is great! I have been knitting roughly 854 coasters (sets of 4), for my friends for Christmas (and, of course, post-Christmas), so — lotsa bindoffs! I have four left to make — these will have much nicer corners!

  • Oh I love this trick. I find all great knitters are like magicians. Great tricks in their bags. I love the yarn pick up thread and knit 2 tog method. I took photos of the shots, so I will remember with my next cast off!

  • https://youtu.be/lRuiQrpXpG0 Slightly off topic but the talk of the toilet paper advert reminded me of this one which will hopefully make some of you smile if you haven’t seen it before.

    • I LOVE this!!

    • It’s so great but it also makes me hungry!

    • Thank you for sharing this! I love it!

    • Oh! Loving this one that followed—
      https://youtu.be/B2DT63DxGVs

      • These were both great!

      • Ding dong! LOL!

  • Thank you for your options for fixing the sloppy stitch. And the chanting method will also come in handy and be the best remedy in situations when worrying and raging won’t help on …

  • Giant loop bug – comprehensively squished!

  • Thank you so much! This drives me crazy when I’m binding off. Do you have recommendations for binding off in the round?

  • Thank you for making this method EASY to understand. I’ve read about it on several sites, but your tutorial with the pictures is the first time that it’s clicked into my 76 year old brain. I’ve been knitting full garments for 65 years and this has always annoyed me. Thanks again.

  • I just used Method 5 to finish an afghan made with bulky yarn. It worked perfectly. Thank you very much for sharing all these wonderful skills.

  • Regarding knitting vs crochet, I have had a similar and equally frustrating experience with pottery. I start grinding my teeth when I hear glaze referred to as paint, the kiln called an oven, and the process called baking instead of firing. Quibbles, probably. And then there’s the whole knitting-crochet vs weaving thing…

    • It gets even more confusing: in Spanish, we use the same word for knitting, crocheting, and weaving: tejer. Knitting literally translates as weaving with two needles. Yikes!

  • Just used #5 to bind off some ribbing at the base of a zip front jacket, game changer! Perfect! Thank you Patty.

  • “Smart people know it’s crochet,” should be put on a mug or something.

  • Before binding off that last stitch, I use a small crochet hook to pick up the side loop of the previous row’s end stitch and knit it together with last unbound off stitch above. Then finish the bind off row.

  • You are hilarious Patty!!!!

  • I have enjoyed reading your options as to the final stitch. I may be back, I probably will need a refresher.

  • Patty, you are a kook. Can I be your friend?

  • THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Managing that last BO stitch has been my biggest pet peeve for years. Each time I watched a video re: BO’s I was hoping to see a solution. However, the video never demonstrated that “darn” last stitch, no matter which expert I was watching.
    I am going to print this article and keep it in the back pocket of my knitting notebook!

  • I enjoyed reading the comments, and checking out those cool videos about the cereal (LOL).
    Re: the various misconceptions a person may have about any of the fiber arts or, as they were called when I was in HS, ‘home arts’, a good reporter should always do their homework on the subject they are reporting.
    That being said, I have learned to accept that unless a person actually creates within this realm they would not know the difference or terms of any particular craft. Keeps me from getting crazy over their ignorance, giving me the opportunity to educate them on the differences__even if they don’t remember for future reference.
    Much less stressful! 😉