Tension key to binding off October 12, 2013 • Robin Stroot
Tension is crucial for binding off stitches from your knitting needles. Bind stitches off too tight and the garment will not have any flexibility to give and take with the edges of the garment. Bind off stitches too loose and the edges will flair out. Tension and stitches need to be made just right for a fine edge to your garments and home décor items.
Let’s say you are binding off a short crew neck pattern along the neckline of a pullover sweater. Bind off too tight and you will have trouble getting the sweater over your head. Too loose and the sweater will have gaps along the neckline.
Make a sample swatch to try different methods of bind off. That way, you can make needed adjustments before binding off the larger number of stitches on your knitting project. If your bind off seems tight, you may need to use a knitting needle a size or two larger to accommodate the tighter tension. Binding off too loose means you need to use a smaller size of knitting needle, although I seldom have seen anyone have trouble binding off stitches too loose. Knitters are more inclined to knit stitches too tight along the bind off row.
One way to make a bind off is to work the first two stitches (either knit, purl or use the project’s stitch pattern). Now you have two stitches on the righthand needle. Pick up the first stitch and leap-frog it over the second stitch. Now you have one stitch on the right-hand needle. Work the third stitch and leap-frog the second-made stitch over the just-worked stitch. Keep working this method along the remaining stitches. Cut the thread and pull through the last worked stitch at the end of the row.
Another method of casting off that I have learned is to work the first two stitches together (e.g., knit two together or purl two together). Then take the single worked stitch that is on the right-hand needle, place it back onto the lefthand needle and then work the next two stitches together again. Keep working this method across the row until you have one stitch remaining on the needle. Cut the yarn/thread and pull the tail through the last worked stitch.
Correction: I mentioned in a previous column regarding Oct. 7-13 is National Weaving and Spinning week that I first fell in love with the art of spinning wool into yarn after seeing a public spinning demonstration by the late Lois Young of Minden. I meant to write the name of Lois Nelson; she was the “spinning lady” at Pioneer Village for many years and my inspiration to learn to spin wool into yarn. She was a member of the Prairie Fibers Guild and was so encouraging to this beginning spinner. Sorry for the error.