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Dear Ann,

Here I am with a how-to for those who are entering the home stretch of their Stopover pullover in our Bang Out a Sweater knitalong.

Here’s the situation: you’ve successfully navigated the Three Tube Situation. You’ve knit the yoke, ribbed the ribbing or rolled the roll at the neck, and bound off. It’s time to weave in ends, block and wear your sweater, right?

Nope. There’s still one little job you have to do.

Before joining up the sleeves and body, you placed a few stitches from the inside top edge of each sleeve and an equal number of stitches on either side of the body onto holders or strings, forming the two underarm regions of your sweater.

You must join these stitches together to form small hinges, so that you can move your arms about freely and securely when wearing the sweater. It’s a beautiful piece of three-dimensional engineering.

For each underarm, there are an equal number of stitches on the inside of the sleeve and on the corresponding part of the body of the sweater. I knit the size small, so I had 9 stitches on the sleeve and 9 stitches on the body.


(It’s only 9 stitches on each side, but it’s a huge hole. Most untidy. The green yarn is the strings holding the stitches.)

The Stopover pattern instructs, as most lopapeysa patterns do, to graft those two sets of 9 stitches together, making an invisible join.

I don’t want to graft. I don’t love doing Kitchener stitch. I also think there’s a way that’s functionally better. If you know me at all, you know that that way is: the three-needle bind off.

Sandy Koufax had the four-seam fastball; I have the three-needle bindoff.

Here we go–clip & save: how to join underarm stitches with a three-needle bindoff.


Step 1: Turn the sweater inside out, with the wrong side facing. Transfer the stitches from the holders/strings to knitting needles.  Count to make sure you got them all before you pull out the strings.


(At this point I always feel much better already.)

Step 2: Scoot all the stitches to the working end of the needles. Take a third needle and insert it into the first stitch on both needles. Wrap the yarn around the new needle and knit the two stitches together.


(Use matching yarn. I’m using red here for visibility.)

Step 3: Knit 2 stitches in this manner, then bind off one stitch by lifting the first stitch over the second stitch.


Continue knitting 2 stitches (one from each needle) together and binding off one stitch until you’ve bound off every stitch, leaving the last loop live.


(It’s like a zipper.)

Step 4: To bind off the last stitch, cut the yarn, leaving a 4 inch tail. Thread a tapestry needle with the tail. Take the needle across the hole at the end of the bindoff, go through a stitch on the sweater, and then back through the last stitch of the bindoff. Pull it closed (not too tightly, just enough to close the hole). As you weave in the tail, use it to close up the hole entirely.

Step 5: Weave in the tail at the beginning of the bindoff in a similar manner to close up the hole at that end of the underarm.


When you’ve done it in matching yarn, this is how it looks on the inside.


And this is how it looks on the outside.

It’s a strong, flexible join. It’s just as comfortable as a graft, and nearly as invisible from the outside. (Only visible at all when you raise your arms fully.) If Kitchener is your jam, then graft, by all means. But as for me and my house, we do the 3NBO.

OK, this has been fun, but I have to get back to watching the #BangOutASweater and #bangfinisher hashtags on Instagram.



PS Winners Circle!

A big congrats to a pair of Seattle knitters who are winners of our two most recent contests:

Yvonne M. won the Blue Sky Alpacas Two Harbors Poncho kit.

Megan M. won the Elemental Affects Heirloom Chevron Blanket kit.

Thanks for reading!


Leave a Comment


  • I’m with you, I’d rather 3nbo!

  • Thank you so much! I’m not doing this sweater but am reading avidly. I’m also just at the point on other sweater where I have to join the armpit stitches. I want wondering if I had the confidence to do the 3NBO and now I do for sure’ I’m so pleased.

  • Thanks for this tip. Spent Sunday waiting for snow and redoing what I knitted on Saturday (counting seems to be important, who knew) so I missed my goal of finishing before the new Walking Dead episode. Yoked during TWD do today will be neckline and armpits and Grammys. I’m now a 3NBO pro as I will be the moving back to finishing the Fussy Cuts blanket. In the queue are 3 baby items due by June.

  • Thanks for this tip. I’m about to finish the yoke today and will go forth with 3-needle bind off. I actually like Kitchener stitch—I think it’s pretty neat—but I also like to use efficient methods, which 3-needle bo seems to be.

  • Do you maybe want to move those stitches to the RIGHT end of the needles (which are in your left hand)?

    • Yes! Thank you. Will fix.

    • I had the same thought, Rebecca!

  • I have no issues with grafting stockinette (I find it meditative), but that’s a very clever idea. I like that I have options, especially that I don’t have to figure out how to graft in non-stockinette stitch patterns.

  • I like it – another knitterly technique. Will give it a go on my Stopover tonight.

  • 3 gauge swatches: 2 flat, 1 “circular”
    –Flat: #10.5 needles = 13.5 sts to 4 inches
    #11.0 needles = 12.0 sts to 4 inches

    –Circular: #10.5 needles = . 14.0 sts to 4 inches

    I have the Manos Maxima yarn. Someone told me that size 11 needles would really be pushing it for that yarn and to go with the 10.5. They paid more attention to the flat swatch than the circular one (knit like I-cord, but with long strands in the back, not closed).

    Dying to begin my Stopover. Any thoughts? I am making the size small (not for me, but for a friend). On my way to work now. Everyone, have a good day.


    • I would go with the 10.5.

      • Thanks.

    • Start with a sleeve. Block after 6-8 inches. See what happens. If it’s the size it’s supposed to be (or close enough) keep going. If not rip and try the other needles.

      • Thanks.

    • P.S. Love the 3 needle bind off. I remember doing it for a baby garment project several years ago. Great tutorial.

  • It’s like you’re reading my mind. I was hoping you’d weigh in on the armpit situation. I was thinking 3NBO from the beginning but then wondered if it would not be “refined” enough for this more refined Lopi. Thanks for showing us the way – again!

  • You must be feverish. Shouldn’t it read “And this is how it looks on the OUTSIDE.”??

    • Yes! I was in A State. Will fix, thanks.

  • My problem with Kitchener, albeit limited experience, is the holes at each end that must be filled in some way. Does this eliminate that issue?

    • You join a new yarn to do the 3 needle bind off a9or the kitchener for that matter), and have a tail at each end to weave around any looseness as you fasten in the ends.

      I like the 3 needle bind off especially for this area, because it cinches the 2 rows together, rather than adding a row with a kitchener.

      • ^ that a9 should have been (

  • Will the 3-needle bind off work for for sock toes as well? Or is it too bulky for that purpose?

    • I’m not a sock knitter but my guess is that the wearer might feel that little bound-off ridge of stitches inside the sock.

    • Technically it works but it makes a little ridge inside at the tip of your toe. My toes wouldn’t like it. Also, it’s hard for me to turn a sock inside out on the needles after all the toe decreases. So faster just to graft it, even taking into account how long it takes me to find the Kitchener directions.

      • I’ve done 3 needle bind off on the outside of a sock. It didn’t look as nice as grafting, but felt fine.

  • Great little tutorial! I am learning lots of things from this KAL, just as an enthusiastic spectator. Every time I check that thread on rav, there are about a hundred new posts, many with delightful pictures. Loving the color combinations. And the kitties 🙂

  • Ah, wish I’d seen this yesterday because I idly considered a 3NBO but then wondered if it would be as flexible. I’m not going to unpick my black yarn Kitchener, though.

    In other news, I am now considering Strokkur and ordering some plutoloopy to make Nordic Wind. This despite the fact that it will be 80 here in Oklahoma City before the week is out.

    • As a former San Antonio resident, I know how to convince myself that any day with temps under 65 requires wool! Just about the only thing I like about the real winter we have here in Iowa is the opportunity to wear my handknits.

  • slicker than snot!

    • You’re the first person I’ve ever heard use this phrase, except me and a nurse practitioner who used to say it after inserting an IUD in a patient. (We worked for Planned Parenthood.) Best phrase ever! So descriptive!

  • Now you tell me! I kitchener’d but next time I’m doing 3NBO. I like it much better, and I don’t have to look up how to do it every single freakin’ time.

    • My feelings exactly. I’m not in the KAL because (a) I seldom wear pullovers, and (b) I have nine grandchildren and someone is always having a birthday, so I mostly knit things for children. But I just finished a sweater a few days ago where I had knit the sleeves flat instead of in the round (inadequate directions), and fussing with them to attach and then (later) to close up the 8-stitches-on-each-side gap was a pain. Wish I had thought of this; I always do shoulder seams with a 3NBO because it’s strong and looks good. Thanks for the suggestion, Kay!

      • That shoulder seam idea is wonderful, Judy. Adding it to my bag of tricks.

  • Thank you! That is so much easier. Much jealously towards the recent winners. Looks like I have to move to the west coast to win!

    • And with that, I’m back to the sweater. I’m not so much a sweater banger and I’ve been distracted by Fiber Optic Yarns’ KAL, the trifle hat, using lots of her mini skeins or one of her paintboxes. I’ve done 2 and I’m heading for a 3rd. Everyone should join in!

  • I LOVE the 3NBO! That I can get my head around.

  • I left a tail long enough to graft the underarm hole later so that I did not need to use a new piece of yarn. The grafting went fine, but the holes on each end! Not good. I’m going to try Strokkur next, and I’m switching to 3NBO. It looks sturdier.

  • I’m nowhere near this point in my Stopover, but I had been thinking about the armpits. I have no problem kitchnering toes, but I wondered how well it would work at this looser gauge. I may try the 3NBO instead.

    Also – I’m pretty sure I want to do the rolled neckline. I found info about it on pdxknitterati’s Rav page, and it all makes sense, but do you have any other advice? thx!

    • My advice is just to knit stockinette instead of ribbing at the neck. I think the neck is wide enough (especially after blocking) that you need not adjust the decreases at the top of the yoke. The roll will be stretchier than the ribbing. Maybe knit a row or two more of stockinette than is called for in the ribbing? See how it looks.

      • I’m also planning on doing a rolled edge on the neck of my sweater, and have been checking and re-checking the Ravelry forum for other rolled necklines. (PDX Knitterati, your sweater looks great!) Thanks for yet another great piece of clip-n-save knitting advice, Kay. You’re the best! (Well, the co-best, along with Ann…) But I better stop reading and start knitting if I want to get this banged out on my own personal 15 day bang out schedule, though!

        • Thank you! I am still waiting for my color pop swap, so still not really finished. If it’s not here tomorrow, I’ll go ahead and do the underarm finishing and weaving in ends, and block it! (I spent the weekend at Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, so I left Stopover at home.) So glad Kay mentiioned 3NBO, my favorite closer. I don’t use kitchener very often, and would have to look it up.

  • I also like the 3 needle bind off and have used it on shoulder joins. I wonder why leave the underarms till last? Why not join underarms first and then join the 3 tubes (body and 2 arms)?

  • I found that the number of underarm stitches has forced me to practice Kitchener where I’m not too scared of getting distracted, but I have wondered about the 3nbo and if it would work, so thanks.

    Congrats to the winners!

  • Yes…3-needle bind-off forever! I use it whenever possible, as I am no fan of Kitchener stitch. My sleeves are done, but I am still on the lower part of the body. I will definitely clip-n-save this for bind-off time, though! Thanks!

  • I was taught that seams where two pieces of knitting with live stitches meet must be grafted, as in the toe of a cuff-to-toe sock. Hence I rarely knit socks.

    I was also taught to be the boss of my own knitting.

    Underarm kitchener stitch? Meditative yet challenging finishing work for an hour on a really good, calm day.

    The rest of my days beg for three needle bind off. 10 minutes. Boom. Done.

    I fell under the spell of the #bangfinishers and ordered a Stopover’s worth of lett lopi this weekend.

    Hulda from Nordic Store contacted me to say that the lonely ball of white lopi I ordered won’t be available for 10 whole days. Woe is me. She did offer to send the rest of the yarn though. Very nice! 🙂 Nordic Store sells Icelandic candy and cod liver oil. I may place another order soon.

    • I don’t kitchener my socks, but I don’t 3NBO there, either. I just decrease to about 8 sts, and run the yarn through and pull, like on a hat. They fit just fine. I am the BOSS of my knitting!

  • Genius!
    Not only is this easier but I think it’s more secure. Always something new to learn☺️

  • I was about to graft an underarm and was looking for tips on how to make the side holes less obvious and now you’ve convinced me to do 3NBO!

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