The stretchy bind-off comparison, published in July 2019, is one of the most popular posts on my blog. In the 13 months it's been out, it's been read over 4,000 times!
But it was due for an update. This comparison now includes the 12 bind-off methods from the original comparison as well as 8 new, obscure stretchy bind-offs. All in all, 20 bind-off methods ordered by stretchiness, starting from the least stretchy and ending with the most stretchy bind-off of them all. And because stretchiness is sometimes associated with the unwanted side effect of flare, I also measured how much wider the bind-off edge is when not stretched. (If you're interested in how I did the calculations, the details are at the end of this post.)
#20 Baseline: Standard Bind-off
I used the standard bind-off as a baseline against which all comparisons were made. As you can see, the standard bind-off is not completely without stretch: the bind-off edge measures 11.5 cm relaxed and 16 cm stretched, a stretch percentage of 39%.
#19 Suspended Bind-off
In the book Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods, author Leslie Ann Bestor suggests that this is a good bind-off for knitters who have a hard time binding off loosely. Turns out this is not the case. The Suspended Bind-off doesn't have any more stretch (nor flare) compared to the standard bind-off.
#18 Lucy Neatby's Modified Conventional Bind-off
Not much improvement with this method: the Modified Conventional Bind-off has a stretch percentage of 52% with 4% more flare compared to the standard bind-off.
#17 Lace Bind-off
The Lace Bind-off performs only a little better: a 57% stretch percentage. It also produces a minimal amount of flare (4%).
#16 Icelandic Bind-off
Now we're starting to see some improvement. The Icelandic Bind-off has a 65% stretchiness with only 9% more flare than the standard bind-off. But because this bind-off methods gives a bumpy edge, it's not ideal for all projects.
#15 Standard Bind-off with Larger Needles
All other bind-off tests were done using the same needles but for this method I went up two needle sizes (1 mm). I've always put down using larger needles to bind-off your work as a lazy method that just makes looser stitches with not much stretch. How very wrong I was! This simple trick actually produces quite a good stretch (65%) but only minimal flare (4%) compared to the standard bind-off.
#14 Grandma's Favorite Loose Bind-off (NEW)
Grandma's Favorite Loose Bind-off is just marginally better than the standard bind-off on larger needles with 70% of stretch but it loses on the amount of flare (17%).
#13 Lori's Twisty Bind-off
Lori titles her tutorial video "Extra Stretchy, No Flare Bind Off" and she is exactly right! This bind-off has a considerable amount of stretch (70%) with absolutely no flare compared to the standard bind-off. Lori's Twisty Bind-off outperforms Grandma's Favorite Bind-off just because of this distinct lack of flaring even though they both have the same amount of stretchiness.
#12 HiyaHiya Grandma's Stretchy Bind-off for 2x2 ribbing (NEW)
The 2-by-2 rib version of HiyaHiya Grandma's Stretchy Bind-off ekes out over Lori's with a hefty 78% of stretch. But this bind-off method also comes with 13% of flare.
#11 Sheena's Stretchy Sock Bind-off (NEW)
Another newcomer, Sheena's Stretchy Sock Bind-off, has a decent amount of stretch (83%) with only negligible flare (4%). I wouldn't use this for socks necessarily — it isn't stretchy enough for that despite the name — but it just became my new favorite bind-off for sleeve cuffs done in 2x2 ribbing.
#10 Elastic Bind-off
My favorite bind-off for toe-up socks, Russian a.k.a. Elastic Bind-off, shows up squarely at the middle of the pack. It has a generous amount of stretch (91%) but also quite a bit of extra flare (13%).
#9 Invisible Ribbed Bind-off (NEW)
This bind-off truly is invisible — it seems to vanish into thin air. Invisible Ribbed Bind-off is also pretty stretchy (91%) and has no flare! Great for sleeve or sock cuffs, or even top-down hats done in 1x1 ribbing.
#8 Simple Stretchy Bind-off
The Simple Stretchy Bind-off is exactly same as the elastic bind-off, only worked in pattern (that is, knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls). And it stretches even more: a 100% stretch percentage means the bind-off edge stretches to double the width of the swatch. This bind also has the same amount of extra flare as the elastic bind-off (13%).
#7 Tillybuddy's Stretchy Swing Needle Bind-off (NEW)
Tillybuddy's swing needle method is probably the most complex bind-off I've ever come across with. Yes, it does have a decent amount of stretch (100%) but it is quite unattractive and tedious to do. Not to mention it comes with 13% of flare. In my opinion, this bind-off simply isn't worth it because there are better, stretchier, and easier alternatives.
#6 Latvian Bind-off (NEW)
If I wasn't so against sewn bind-offs, I might actually like this one. Latvian Bind-off is easy, fast, with a good amount of stretch (100%) and only minimal flare (4%). Not to mention it matches the long-tail cast-on edge pretty perfectly.
#5 HiyaHiya Grandma's Stretchy Bind-off for 1x1 ribbing (NEW)
The 1x1 ribbing version of HiyaHiya Grandma's Stretchy Bind-off starts off the Top 5 of stretchy bind-offs. This bind-off method does have a good amount of stretch (109%) but it's downside is a whopping 22% of flare, worst of the pack. Not only that, both versions of this bind-off suffer from a distinct lack of bounce back: the bind-off might look good fresh off the needles but after the first stretch they never shrink back. I wouldn't want that on my sock cuffs.
Being a continental knitter and a Norwegian purler my working yarn is always at the back of the work, regardless of whether I'm knitting or purling. I found it extremely tedious having to fiddle with the working yarn back and forth. HiyaHiya Grandma gets a thumbs down from me. 👎
#4 Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off
I'm sorry, Jeny, you've been upstaged from the Top 3. The fourth stretchiest bind-off is Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off with a generous 109% stretch percentage but only 13% more flare. Definitely a good one to use for those sock cuffs.
#3 Elizabeth Zimmerman's Sewn Bind-off
Now we're getting into Top 3! The third best: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Sewn Bind-off. It gives the same amount of stretch as JSSBO but only a measly 4% more flare. Stretchy and attractive!
#2 Jeny's Interlock Bind-off (NEW)
And taking over Jeny's place in the Top 3 is... Jeny! Jeny's Interlock Bind-off rises to the number #2 spot on the list. This bind-off method has no flare but comes with a respectable 117% of stretch! It's only downside (in my book) is that it's a sewn bind-off. But this technique is definitely one to keep in the back pocket, especially for those 1x1 ribbed cuffs.
#1 Yarnover Bind-off
And the number one spot still goes to Yarnover Bind-off. This bind-off method produces a whopping 126% of stretch, meaning the bind-off edge can be extended to more than 2.25 times the width of the original swatch. But using this bind-off comes with a caveat. The Yarnover Bind-off also performs the worst in terms of flare: 22% more than the standard bind-off.
So what do these results mean? What is the best stretchy bind-off? It depends on what you're knitting. Here are my suggestions.
The stretchiest bind-off: Yarnover Bind-off. Use this one when your finished project must be stretched and blocked very aggressively, such as for lace shawls.
Best bind-off for toe-up socks: EZ Sewn Bind-off or JSSBO. Both are very stretchy but with a bit of flare.
Best bind-off for 1x1 ribbing: Jeny's Interlock Bind-off. Not only is it pretty, it's super stretchy and has no flare. Use in small amounts such as for sleeve or sock cuffs.
Good all-rounder: Lori's Twisty Bind-off. Not quite as stretchy as the top alternatives but it's pretty. Great for sleeve cuffs and hems where you don't want any flare on the finished object.
For those interested in math and methodology, here's how I calculated the stretch and flare percentages.
I used the same swatch throughout the tests, changing only the bind-off row. I measured the bind-off edge relaxed (unstretched) for the flare percentages and stretched as far as the swatch would go for the stretch percentages.
Standard bind-off was used as a baseline against all comparisons. To calculate the percentages, I used these formulas:
Stretch % = (comparison bind-off edge stretched - standard bind-off edge relaxed) / standard bind-off edge relaxed × 100%
Flare % = (comparison bind-off edge relaxed - standard bind-off edge relaxed) / standard bind-off edge relaxed × 100%
For instance the measurements for Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off were 13 cm relaxed, 24 cm stretched. This yields the following stretch and flare percentages:
Stretch % for JSSBO = (24-11.5) / 11.5 × 100% ≈ 109%
Flare % for JSSBO = (13-11.5) / 11.5 × 100% ≈ 13%
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