In Search of a LOOSE Bind Off.
The pattern read “Bind off loosely using a stretchy bind-off or a needle one or two sizes larger than the one used to knit the body of the shawl.”
I’ve been knitting for 3 years, but I almost always knit the same types of things. I only took 4 knitting classes and everything after that I’ve learned through trial and error.
My first knitting experiences were with baby knits. They are generally forgiving. You can knit something a size too big, but a baby won’t care. During my early baby knits I knit a soaker for a friend of mine. The bind off was at the waist line (a 2×2 rib). I’d always done a K2, leap frog first stitch over second, K1, repeat. This soaker was no different. I was super excited, it was the first thing I’d ever knit for someone other than my own child. I mailed it Priority and waited. Two days later my friend called to tell me that the soaker JUST fit. It was only barely fitting her daughter at this moment because the bind off seemed too tight to her. She wasn’t a knitter, but she informed me that if I bound off in pattern the waistband would have been much stretchier. I was devastated and embarrassed. How could a non-knitter know that and I didn’t. I learned from this experience… always bind off in pattern!!!!!
I applied this new knowledge to socks when I started knitting socks. I had tried a couple of different pairs, but when I finally got a pair finished the bind off was at the cuff. It was a 2×2 rib again. I swore I would get this right. I sat there and K2, leap frog first stitch over second, P1, repeat…. I was sure this was going to make them fit. I even sized up a needle because I’m a fairly tight knitter. The socks fit, but they require a lot of wiggling. The issue with these socks is not the heel or the tightness of the socks. It’s the cuff!!! Even though I sized up a needle and I bound off in pattern it was still too tight! I wear this pair of socks, but I’m not 100% happy with them!
Fast forward to my beloved Samovar. I joined the Camp Loopy challenge to knit a two toned shawl. I’ve loved Samovar from afar for a while, but this was my chance to knit it out of awesome yarn! I purchased a skein each of TIG’s Bryn and Saoirse on Cashmerino Fingering from The Loopy Ewe! When the challenge began I knit on my Samovar a lot! When I finally got to the bind off I read the line above. I was in the car and I’m clearly not the best at binding off. I watched several youTube videos on my Droid and felt that the crochet bind off would be the best, but I didn’t have a crochet hook that would work. I finally decided that if I sized up my needle 2-3 sizes it should be loose enough. I pulled out my trusty US 10.5 and started my K2, leap frog first stitch over second, K1, repeat. I did this for over 400 stitches. When it was done I pet my Samovar and rubbed it on my face. It’s Cashmerino after all….
I got home from my 4th of July holiday and wanted to block it right away. Too many things took precedence and Monday turned into Tuesday. I went to block my Samovar and found that….. THE BIND OFF IS TOO TIGHT!!!!! I can get 3 sides of the square to block out just fine, but no amount of pin moving is making the fourth edge anywhere near blocked out. I sat down next to the Samovar and cried. I emailed a group of friends and offered it to the first person who wanted it. I just couldn’t look at it. After many emails and pictures we decided that even though I sized up my needle by 3 sizes it still wasn’t enough to be loose.
I sit here today imploring you to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE use the most stretchy bind off you can find for your knitted lovelies. No one wants to finish a gorgeous hand knit to find that the bind off is too tight. Decisions you don’t want to even think about have to be entertained at that point. Right now my Samovar is sitting in a corner hiding. I can’t bare to look at it. My only choices are to wear it and pretend like I don’t notice how tight it is OR rip back the bind off and re-bind off in a stretchier bind off.
Neither of these options are exciting to me. In fact, both of them make me want to cry looking at the Samovar. It’s gorgeous and soft and Cashmerino for crying out loud. Instead of getting love it’s hiding in a dark corner until the day I can decide which option will work for me.