Sunday, October 5, 2008

Binding Off Lace

I have finished all the knitting on the Arctic Diamonds Stole. See, here's the end of the last diamond and the final edging.



It's still on the needles, because I haven't yet figured out how to bind it off. The bind-off isn't a huge deal for this stole; the edge needs only to be about as sideways stretchy as the body. But, since I intend to knit more -- and increasingly difficult -- lace projects, it seemed reasonable to investigate a few different methods of getting a super-loose finish. I settled on three to swatch, and the results were most interesting.

The first is called Modified Standard by Eunny Jang (Interweave Knits, Fall 2006), and it's the least stretchy of the three. Also the least appealing visually (to me), since it produces the same loops lying across the fabric as does a standard bindoff. The only difference is that you add a yarnover between the knits. Howso? Well, first you knit one stitch. Then the ongoing process is: yarnover, knit one, pass both the first stitch and the yarnover over the second stitch. This bind-off helps to keep things loose and generates a prettier edge than one gets by going up a few needle sizes, but it does not stretch quite as much as the knit fabric.


The next bindoff I tried has several different names. Some call it Lace Bind-Off and some call it Knit Bind-Off. Or even Knit Lace Bind-Off. Opinions also vary as to its stretchiness. It's pretty simple. You begin by knitting two stitches. Then pass those two back to the left needle and knit them together. Now there is one stitch on the right needle. So knit one, pass the two stitches back to the left needle and knit them together, and keep repeating. This bind-off produces a firm and pretty edge that has more stretch than the Modified Standard -- definitely enough for my purposes. A variation of this method that I did not take the time to swatch involves knitting the two stitches together through the back loops. Supposedly the back-loop approach looks more like a standard bind-off.


And last we have the Russian Bind-Off, also sometimes called Lace Bind-Off (just so we can all be thoroughly confused). It's actually just like its cousin, the "Lace Bind-Off" above, except with this one you purl instead of knitting. Purl two stitches, then slip them back to the left and purl them together, and so on. It's easier and faster than the knitted version (for an English-style knitter), because the maneuver that lines up the two stitches to slip from right to left is the same position needed to purl them together. Two steps become one. The resulting edge is open and really attractive, and this bind-off has the most stretch of the three. It stretches even more than the knitted fabric.


After a bit of dithering, I decided to use the Knit Lace Bind-Off (the middle one). I like the way it looks, and it has just enough stretch. The Russian Bind-Off is lovely, but I think it might be TOO stretchy. I could wind up with a ruffly edge at one end. So I will save this bind-off for another occasion. Now I simply need to gather up my courage, remind myself that I can always unbind it and reknit if I don't like the result, and do the deed.

Next comes the thrill of blocking.

10 comments:

Marjorie said...

I was in the same quandary as you and I picked the same bindoff for Bee Fields as you did for Arctic Lace. It worked out very well, and I was thinking of using it for a horizontal garter-stitch scarf. I always knit the cast-on row too tightly. If I did a provisional cast-on and then bound off that way, everything would be dandy.

Delighted Hands said...

Oh, what a cool choice to bind off-to tell you the truth, I didn't know there was a choice! I knit loosely so I just never looked for a different way-I am going to try these--thanks! Looking forward to complete shawl pic.

Luni said...

That's all news to me. I didn't know about any of those methods. If asked, I would have mumbled something about sewn bind-off or crochet bind-off being good for stretch.
I was quite glad the only really lacey shawl I knit had a knitted border and didn't require a bind-off.

beverlyanne said...

Thank you so much for the bind-offs and for your easy-to-follow instructions. I can use these for toe up socks, which, just as you warned me, are a nightmare to bind off.

Sharon said...

I'm kinda embarressed to say that after all these years of knitting, I've never given any thought to different bind-offs. It never occurred to me that there might be more than one.

~ Phyllis ~ said...

I like the Knit Lace Bind Off. Thank you for showing the various bind offs.

Nancy K. said...

Your knitting is SO beautiful! I need to find someone to knit me some 'fingerless gloves' in exchange for fiber....would you be interested at all????

If not ~ I still think your knitting is beautiful!

;-)

Lucia said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I never quite know how to bind off lace. For this stole I might have been tempted to do a diamond bind-off, wherein you work half-diamonds out their points along the bind-off edge. It is tedious and creates a lot of ends, but if the whole piece is a diamond pattern it takes it to its logical and satisfying conclusion.

I have not been a good citizen of blogland recently. You've been up to some lovely stuff in my absence. That'll teach me.

Leigh said...

Interesting post! I've wondered about binding off lace. Not that I've done that much lace knitting, but my one and only lace knitting project is still on the needles and I have wondered what to do about that. :)

the mad LOLscientist said...

Got here via your Cartouche shawl pattern in Knitty…

These tricks look like just the thing for me! My bindoffs are ALWAYS too tight (unless I use needles 3 or 4 sizes bigger, which just looks ugly). Next time I'm trying one of these. thanks!

Mad =^..^=