A step by step tutorial showing you 3 alternatives to neaten the last stitch of a bind off when knitting flat projects
Are you currently finishing a project but you don’t know what to do with the last stitch? Or have you bound off successfully but your edge doesn’t exactly look neat? Well in this tutorial, I will show you a very easy way to bind off the last stitch and fix those little ears at the same time.
I will start with the easiest and best method and then you will also find two alternatives further down below. There’s also a video attached to this post (should pop up automatically) in case you prefer moving pictures.
Normally, you bind off the last two stitches the regular way, and then you break the working yarn and pull out the last loop all the way. This will create a knot. While it is entirely secure, you often create an ear because the edge stitches are a bit too loose. That’s because there is nothing to anchor them on the left side.
So, let’s show you what to do with the last stitch when binding off instead.
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- Slip the last stitch (point to point) to the right needle without knitting.
- Find the left loop of the stitch one row below and lift it on your right needle.
- Slip the first two stitches on your right needle back to the left needle.
- Knit these two stitches together (here's my tutorial on how to k2tog).
- Pass the second stitch over the first stitch (the way you normally would).
- Break the yarn and pull out the last loop to form a tight little knot.
The closer your work on the tip of your needles, the less you will stretch out these stitches, and the neater your edge will look.
If you have been knitting a very stretchy fabric, you may consider using a different bind-off technique (like this version for a 2x2 rib stitch). This technique will only fix the last stitch. If your edge is not stretchy enough, things may look a bit weird regardless of how neat you finish.
Alternative for the last stitch without slipping
If you don’t want to slip the stitches back and forth, you can also knit a simple k1tog RL into the last stitch. This method will look slightly less neat (as it will force your edge a bit inwards instead of outwards) but for all practical reasons, it’s almost identical.
Step 1: Lift the right leg of the stitch one row below the last stitch back to the left needle.
Step 2: Knit the two stitches on your left needle together (k2tog).
Step 3: Bind off the remaining two stitches on your right needle the regular way, cut the yarn, and pull out the tail.
I leave it up to you which version you prefer. I always stick to the first method, though.
Adding a slip stitch selvage
A very easy way to get nice and clean edges is slipping the very first stitch of every row without knitting it. If you do that, you are sort of simulating the technique I showed you above quite naturally. And it will create a similar edge.
Step 1: Slip the first stitch of the last row in pattern BEFORE your bind off (meaning purlwise if it is a purl stitch with yarn in front and knitwise with yarn in back in case it is a knit stitch).
Step 2: Bind off the normal way without treating the last stitch in any special way.
Again, it’s very important to support your work as you bind off these last two stitches for a super neat finish. It’s very easy to stretch the loops out a lot simply because the whole weight of your projects pulls on them.
Reading tip: Check out this post on how to knit neater edges if that’s something you are struggling with in general
How to bind off the last stitch in the round?
So, what happens when you knit a project in the round. Will these techniques work as well? Yes and no! Let me explain.
When you are knitting in the round, you are actually knitting in an upward spiral. That’s why you always create a little jog at the transition between rounds (read this tutorial on jogless knitting in the round). As a result, your last bind-off stitch will also be a bit higher than the first stitch. And you can fix this with either one of the methods I showed you above.
That being said, there will still be a gap. You can only close this by grafting one knit stitch. It may sound super complicated but it’s actually extremely easy. If you are interested, read this tutorial on how to graft knitting where I show you this technique step by step.
Note: Just in case you were wondering. Bind off and cast off are the same thing. These techniques will work regardless of how you call it.
Tip: This post is part of my series on the best knitting tips. Check it out for a lot of other easy techniques to improve your projects.