Stretchy Bind Offs for Ribbing Clarified
While researching stretchy bind offs in preparation for our Socks on a Plane Knit Along, I discovered four that are particularly good for ribbing: the Tubular Bind Off, the Invisible Rib Bind Off, the 1×1 Sewn Bind Off, and the Italian Bind Off. The problem is that I also discovered that at least some of these names are used to describe the same bind off. And some of the names are used to describe different bind offs.
So I’ve done a fair bit of research to try to determine how these stretchy bind offs are different.
It seems that they are essentially the same with slightly different techniques – akin to Continental, English, Combination, and Portuguese knitting: multiple methods with the same result.
The one difference I did notice is that some people have you do 2-4 set up rows, slipping every other stitch in each row, and other people omit this step.
What follows is one method to do this bind off.
This bind off must start with a knit stitch. (Though I suspect that it is possible to start with a purl stitch, I did not find instructions for it. Nor did I take the time to figure it out myself.)
- If you are working seed stitch or ribbing on a flat piece and the first stitch of the next row is purl, work one more row in pattern or cut the yarn and join it at the other end of your work so that you start the bind off with a knit stitch.
- If you’re working in the round and your ribbing starts with a purl stitch, purl it and move it to the end of the round to start the bind off with a knit stitch.
(Optional, but I prefer the look with the set up rows. Work the set up rows loosely and slip all stitches purlwise.)
For flat knitting
Row 1: Knit the knits and slip the purls with yarn in front
Row 2: Repeat row 1
For knitting in the round
Rnd 1: Knit the knits and slip the purls with yarn in front
Rnd 2: Slip the knits with yarn in back and purl the purls
Cut a tail at least three times the length of the bind off edge. Use a blunt tapestry needle to work the bind-off. This is an excellent video from The Sweater Collective for the following steps:
Step 1: Insert the needle purlwise into first stitch.
Step 2: Insert the needle from the back to the front between the 1st & 2nd stitches
Step 3: Insert the needle knitwise into the 2nd stitch and bring it out the back of the needle, behind your work.
Step 4: Insert the needle into the first stitch knitwise and remove the stitch from the needle.
Step 5: Skip the new first stitch and insert the needle purlwise into the 2nd stitch, keeping your needle to the front of your work.
Step 6: Insert the needle purlwise into 1st stitch and remove the stitch from the needle.
Repeat steps 2-6 until only two stitches remain.
For flat knitting:
Work through step 4, then skip step 5, and do step 6.
For knitting in the round:
Work through step 4, then:
- Insert the needle purlwise into the right leg of the 1st stitch you bound off.
- Repeat step 6
- Insert the needle knitwise into the left leg of the 1st stitch you bound off
There you go! Stretchy bind offs for ribbing clarified. Try it for yourself with 2 set up rows, 4 set up rows (repeat rows 1 & 2), and no set up rows to see which one you like best. Just be sure to work the set up rows loosely or go up a needle size or 2.