When I knitted my first pair of toe-up socks, I ended up with a bind-off so tight it was cutting off the circulation in my feet (kidding, of course). Not all bind offs are made equal, I realized, and it led me on a quest for finding the perfect bind-off for toe-up socks. I still haven't found The One but I've settled for a (current) favorite.
Here's a selection of stretchy bind-offs you can use whenever your need a flexible, elastic bind-off edge with a lot of give. In addition to toe-up socks, these methods can be used to bind off top-down shawls. I also like to use a stretchy bind-off on sleeve cuffs and the bottom edge of a top-down sweater so that the hem fits nicely around the hips.
#1. Elastic or Russian Bind-off
This is my go-to method when I need to do a stretchy bind-off edge, and I use it most often for toe-up socks. Because you're essentially working each stitch twice, this bind-off method uses a lot of yarn — in fact, twice the amount compared to a standard bind-off.
While this bind-off creates a truly stretchy edge, it also tends to flare out a bit. I find, however, that it doesn't really matter in toe-up socks. Because the sock cuffs are pulled quite taut around your calves, the flare isn't really that visible. But for hems or cuffs I like to use a smaller needle for the bind-off. This way the edge is a bit snugger — but still stretchy.
I also love this bind-off for shawls when I'm not doing a picot one.
#2. Lori's Twisty Bind-off
This is my second-favorite stretchy bind-off for toe-up socks. Like the video description says, it's very stretchy but doesn't flare out like the elastic bind-off does. Lori's ingenious twist (ha!) is to do a little twist of the needle before each stitch which adds just enough slack to create a stretchy bind-off edge.
The reason why I don't use this bind-off more often is that always have to look up the instructions to remember which way to twist. If the flare of the elastic bind-off bothers you, give this one a go!
#3. Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off
Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off, or JSSBO for short, has a massive fan base and no wonder. Jeny Staiman's invention is to add a yarnover — reverse yo before a knit stitch, regular yo before a purl stitch — before each stitch on the bind-off row. This extra bit of yarn essentially doubles the number of stitches worked in the bind-off, resulting in a super stretchy edge that's perfect for toe-up socks.
#4. Suspended Bind-off
The suspended bind-off is a close relative to the standard bind-off. Instead of lifting the first stitch knit over the second and dropping it off, the first stitch is suspended on the left needle until the next stitch is worked.
In her book Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods knitting author and instructor Leslie Ann Bestor suggests this bind-off (instead of changing to a larger needle) for knitters who have a hard time binding off loosely. You can see her hands and hear her voice on the above video.
#5. Icelandic Bind-off
Finally, the Icelandic bind-off, which is essentially a variation of the elastic bind-off. It is slightly trickier to execute but produces a nice, elastic edge that looks especially good when used for garter stitch. Instead of knitting two stitches together through the back loops, like in the elastic bind-off, you insert the right needle purlwise into the first stitch, knitwise into the second stitch, and then pull the working yarn through both stitches.
What's your favorite method of doing a stretchy bind-off? Did you find some new methods to try? Let me know in the comments!
Pin this post!