Different bind-off techniques

While working on Violet's puff sleeve sweater, I needed to make a decision about what bind-off technique to use. I've always used the standard bind-off, which does create a nice edge but is NOT very stretchy. Because the collar is picked up around the neck and then bound off, I want to make sure I have good stretch so it fits over her head but doesn't flare and look loose around her neck.

I recently looked at the stretchiness of ribbing and I stumbled upon Susanna Winter's similar Comparison of 20 Bind off methods where she uses measurements to rank the stretchiness of different bind-off methods. I used her list and her chart of stretch and flare percentage to select some of my top favorites. Then I created swatches to compare some bind-offs myself and pick one or two to use in the puff sleeve sweater. I really liked Susanna's comparison but what is most important to me is how it looks- so here are some with the top stretch and low flare percentage ranked in order based on finished unstretched look and ease of technique in my opinion.

Top 7 Bind-off Techniques to maximize stretch and minimize flare

7. Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind off (JSSBO)

Of the top, this is my least favorite look because it created little bumps along the edge that really bother me! I wanted to like this because it is a knit BO, not sewn so it was relatively easy to follow, but it also has a good amount of flare which is huge negative. Just not my favorite look.

6. Lori's Twisty Bind off

This twisty bind off was tricky for me because I am an English knitter, not continental so I had to keep fiddling with how I held the yarn and the twisting was not natural for me. It should have been easy but it was not. I really like the finished look so I may try this one again later. Another benefit it was a knit, not sewn BO but I couldn't get over the confusing technique.

5. Elizabeth Zimmerman (EZ) Sewn Bind off

While this is a sewn technique, it is EZ easy! I like the minimal flare and great stretch (it ranks #3 on Susanna's list) and easy instructions but I'm not crazy about the finished look. There is a decent edge but something about all the little bump loops doesn't make it my absolute favorite. Good choice for socks or darker yarns.

4. Jeny's Interlock Bind off

This other technique from Jeny I like the look of a little better, it created almost a flat edge instead of a rounded edge, which is different. It is a sewn bind off so a slight negative but it was pretty easy to follow, although not great for thinner yarn like I'm using here (fingering weight) when threading back through a loop before pulling all the way through. Look at that minimal flare though! That's what's earning it a higher spot on my list. A nice clean look so to me it's worth sewing.

3. Invisible Ribbed

Here we are in my top 3 favorites. While this technique is sewn and not particularly easy, it reminds me of Kitchener's stitch. I LOVE the look of kitcheners for finishing projects seamlessly but I HATE the technique only because I can't remember the steps until I get in a good rhythm. I usually have to have the YouTube video looping play while I sew along each step. This is similar BUT easier to get into rhythm because you are only working with yarn on one needle instead of two. And to me the look is totally worth the effort! It creates a beautifully rounded edge, similar to tubular cast-on a.k.a Italian cast-on and provides a stretchy no flare finish to your project. To me it just elevates it from great to amazing. It is #9 on Susanna's list because it only provides 91% stretch, the only negative for this technique.

2. Elastic/Simple Stretchy Bind off

The elastic or simple stretchy (I used because I have 1x1 ribbing) is a really great option, similar to a standard bind-off but way stretchier. It creates a nice flat edge and is a simple knit technique I am definitely a fan and will likely switch to this as my go-to bind-off for future projects. Susanna mentions 13% flare but honestly mine had minimal flare, certainly less than JSSBO which also has 13%. And to me it is very stretchy! A good standard choice for all projects.

1. Latvian Bind off

And my favorite is the Latvian BO which is a sewn technique but it is super simple and has great payoff in looks and stretchiness. There is no guesswork in how long of a tail to cut before sewing, it requires 3x the circumference/length of you bind-off row plus ~6" for tucking in. It matches a long tail cast-on edge, which is my go-to CO technique. It ranks #6 on Susanna's list due to minimal flare and 100% stretch. To me this creates a beautiful edge that is a great finishing technique for any knit project.

My plan is to use the Latvian BO for the bottom of the puff sweater and the edge of sleeves, but use the Invisible ribbed for the collar to get a nice clean edge along the neck. Since it's not as stretchy and the neck is where I need a lot of stretch, I may pick up more stitches than normal and know that there will be minimal flare from the BO so it should look nice while providing functional stretch for pulling over the head.

Do you agree with my ranking? What bind-off technique is your favorite? Are there some that I should have included on this list? Let me know what you think in the comments below!


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