Stretchy Bind offs: A Comparison

I recently completed a test-knit that called for a stretchy bind off at the bottom hem. [More on this test knit once it’s released–I can’t wait to share it with you!!] This was a top-down sweater with cables and the designer did a wonderful job of making sure there was no cable splay or cable squinch throughout the sweater’s transitional moments. . . and as part of this strategy, she suggested a stretchy bind off at the bottom just after a hem full of cables.

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Weighing my options, I went for a super-stretchy sock bind off in which you knit into two stitches and then knit those stitches together through the back loop. This creates an amazing stretch–great for the tops of socks! and I have used modified versions of this bind off for the front bands of cardigans as well.

In the case of this sweater, the bind off created a bit more of a ruffled effect than I liked. And this was my own doing: the designer specified a stretchy bind off, NOT a super-stretchy, sock bind off! But I wanted to see this through, so I washed and blocked the sweater to the specified measurements. In its final form, I could see why a stretchy bind off was necessary–the cables do need room to grow! But  . . . not THAT much room!

I had purposefully not woven in my bind off at the hem’s end. And, after waiting patiently for the sweater to completely dry, I decided to go in for some minor sweater surgery. I really wanted this sweater to look great and be within the designer’s specifications. I pulled out my super-stretchy bind off and went with another type of stretchy bind off: i.e. binding off in pattern. This meant knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls of the cabled hem. I LOVE the result: the cables have room to sit nicely and there is no more fluttery wave at the end of my sweater journey!

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What I wanted to share with you is a photo of the leftover yarn: the second bind off used significantly less yarn and that’s a testament to just how super-stretchy the first bind off was! So, lesson of the day: if you need super stretch, go for it . . . but if you need stretch (on a cabled hem, for example), you can bind off in pattern and get all the stretch you need!


Now, you may be asking: is part of this equation the washing, blocking and re-binding off? The answer is YES. The cables had room to grow and be blocked to the right size before I bound off the second time . . . so more experimenting is needed to be sure. But I would encourage you to try different techniques even after your sweaters are “complete”! Wash, block, and if you’re not happy–get in there and make some modifications, even if it means minor sweater surgery!

This entry was posted in bind off, cables, knitting, knitwear repair, LB Handknits, stretchy bind off, Sunny Every Day, techniques, test-knit, tips, tricks and tips. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Stretchy Bind offs: A Comparison

  1. Diana says:

    How funny and how timely is your post! This weekend, I was trying to decide which bind off to make on a lightweight summer cardigan. My quandary was concerning the proper tension of the sweater’s front band. First try – too tight! Second try – too loose! Third try – just right! (Sounds like the story of Goldilocks!) I was working with 1×1 ribbing so my first try was knitting the knit stitches and purling the purl stitches (with the same size needle). Second try was a stretchy bind off that was too stretchy! Third try, I decided to go back to k1 p1 bind off with a needle one size larger. Perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. metaspencer says:

    Great post! They are so, so different

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LynnAnn Thomas says:

    maybe post a link to that super stretchy one? I need that for my socks!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. iceddee says:

    Good advice! Can’t wait to see this when it is released!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. AJ says:

    Yup I’ve definitely learned to keep working at the sweater until you’re completely satisfied as otherwise you’ll never wear it:(

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Knit Potion says:

    Good stuff, Melissa! Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Alina says:

    Love how you are experimenting and are not afraid of adjustments and redoing some things, I think this is the most important thing in the whole learning process!

    Liked by 1 person

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