My Favorite Stretchy Bind Off

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Instead of doing a standard bind off technique to finish my knitting projects, most of the time I will do a stretchy bind off.

Why Work a Stretchy Bind Off?

A stretchy bind off is ideal for socks knit from the toe up, hats knit from the top down and other projects that need to stretch.

I find that with a standard cast on I tend to make the bind off too tight, so it doesn’t match the tension of the cast on or the rest of the project. A stretchy bind off is more flexible so it conforms to the shape of the rest of the knitting a little better.

In reading about this bind off I discovered it’s also know as the lace bind off, the Russian lace bind off or Estonian lace bind off. That’s because it’s great for a lace project that needs to be blocked aggressively and have the bind off stretch with it.

Standard bound off stitches are relatively firm, which is great for some projects but not for others.

Standard vs. Stretchy Bind Off

The standard bind off is worked with regular knit stitches (or knits and purls if you want to bind off in pattern). The stretchy bind off that I like to use works the stitches through the back loops instead of the front loops.

Because the standard bind off has one stitch being pulled over another, it’s easy to pull too tightly and not match the tension of the knitting that came before it. It’s also easy to create uneven tension across the row.

Here it’s shown on a variation of Fisherman’s Rib, which needs a lot of stretch because the stitches are so big and squishy. The yarn is Lion Brand Wool-Ease, if you’re interested.

Using stretchy bind off eliminates the problem of pulling too tightly because the stitches aren’t pulled over each other; you’re basically just working decreases all the way across. It’s really hard to make this bind off tight, and the tension should be consistent both across the row and compared to the knitting below it.

It also looks very similar to the standard bind off, if that’s something that matters to you.

How to Bind Off in a Stretchy Way

Sometimes I see this bind off starting by knitting the first stitch, then sliding it back onto the left hand needle and knitting it through the back loop together with the next stitch.

I never do that, but you can try it both ways and see if it feels like it makes a difference to you.

How I make a stretchy bind off is like this. Knit the first two stitches together through their back loops. The image above shows you you start the stitch.

Slip the new stitch back to the left hand needle and knit it together with the next stitch through the back loops.

Repeat that step until all stitches have been worked.

Cut the yarn and pull it through the last stitch.

Weave in the end (unless you’re doing aggressive blocking, then block first before weaving in any ends).

Do you have a favorite bind off? Have you tried this stretchy bind off method? I’d love to hear about it!

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