Step by step tutorial on knitting a picot bind-off edge, and how to create bigger and smaller spikes (video included)
Are you currently working on a beautiful lace project or some fancy socks, and your pattern calls for a picot bind-off? And you don’t know how to knit it or can’t remember? Well, then you came to the right place because this tutorial will show you the step-by-step instructions, and there is even a video available.
So, how do you knit a picot edging? It’s actually a combination of a knitted cast-on and a standard bind-off. This creates a bit of extra fabric that will appear like tiny little spikes along your edge. You can easily change their size, and increase the space in between them or bring them in closer together.
It’s a very stretchy bind-off technique which is maybe not ideal for a fitted hem but looks very beautiful on a big shawl. I’ve even seen some knitted jewelry using this method. Apart from needing a lot of yarn (and therefore a bit of careful planning; see below), it’s not an overly complicated technique, and should be very easy to learn for any intermediate knitter.
So, let’s dive right into it, eh?
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- Start by binding off 2 stitches the normal way.
Avoid binding off too tight or too loose; keep a moderate tension.
- Slip the remaining stitch back to the left needle.
- Cast on 2 stitches with a knitted cast on.
- Bind off 4 stitches.
Repeat steps 2-4 until you bound off all stitches.
A vital step in creating a beautiful picot edge cast-off is blocking your finished project. Place a pin in each and every single little spike and stretch it out quite a bit. Otherwise, your edge will look quite jumbled.
Also, be aware that this bind-off method will create a bit of extra fabric for your edge. So, when you are using it on a fitted garment (and not a breezy lace shawl), consider using one needle size smaller for a more condensed edge (see picture below).
And here's another tip: When I do the knitted cast on (step 2), I twist the stitches around before I place them on the left needle. That way, my needle can cast on the next stitch straight away.
This method is much faster and smoother and will look almost the same. Or can you spot a meaningful difference in the swatch below? The two picots on the left were knitted the traditional way, the two picots on the right were created by twisting the cast on stitches.
Creating larger or smaller spikes
You can also modify the standard way you knit a picot edge bind-off to create much bigger or possibly smaller spikes. Simply cast on more (or less) stitches in step 3. As a rule of thumb, you should then bind off twice the number you cast on before you start with the next picot.
So, for a typical 3 stitch picot bind off edge, the repeat would be like this:
- bind off 3 stitches
- slip the remaining stitch and cast on 3 more stitches
- bind off 6 stitches
- and so on
You can go higher than 6 stitches, but if you want a really pronounced and fringy look, consider switching to stacked increases one row before your bind-off instead for a much more dramatic result.
How much yarn do I need for a Picot Bind off?
For a typical 2 stitch picot bind-off, you will need approximately 15 times as much yarn as your project is wide. This amount will change significantly if you knit larger picots, and decrease the space in between. I wrote a bit more about (how much yarn you need for a picot bind-off (and other types) here.
If you are really unsure, then you could easily bind off a couple of stitches (say 20), measure the width of that portion of your project, measure the unraveled yarn, and extrapolate to the full width.