Friday, August 21, 2015

Binding Off Knitted Projects with a Crochet Hook, Part 1: Introduction and Basic Bind Off

I’m a crocheter first and a knitter second. Moving yarn with a hook is second nature to me; manipulating it between two needles is not. So when it comes to binding off, a process which involves slipping loops off needles and through each other, I naturally turn to my hooks – because slipping loops through other loops is what a crochet hook does best.

Many knitters and crocheters are aware of the standard crochet bind off (see tutorials below), but did you know that almost any knitted bind off can be worked with a hook? And that using a hook can reduce the number of steps involved?

In this series we'll take a look at several popular bind offs and “translate” them for use with a crochet hook. If you’re a knitter who’s never bound off with a hook, or (like me) a crocheter who knits and would like to expand your bind off repertoire, give these methods a try. You’ll be surprised at how straightforward they can be, and you'll gain the skills needed to adapt any knitted bind off for use with a crochet hook.

Note: The purpose of this series is not to rate or compare bind offs, but to encourage stitchers to try something new. This series does not address sewn bind offs.

Some Important Preliminaries

1. Yarning Over and Yarning Under

Yarn over, yarn under - does it really matter which way the loop goes? YES! The way the loop is twisted directly affects the appearance and performance of the completed stitch. Yarning over (or under) in the wrong direction at the wrong time can produce a tight, twisted stitch - which can turn a stretchy bind off into a strangled bind off.

All yarn overs/yarn unders used in this series will be made crochetwise.

So what's the difference between a crochet yarn over and a crochet yarn under? How do they compare to a knitting yarn over?
  • To yarn over in crochet, start with the hook in front and the yarn in back. Move the tip of the hook under the yarn, then up and behind it. The yarn should wrap over the hook from back to front.
  • To yarn under in crochet, move the tip of the hook over the yarn, then down behind it, then up towards you. The yarn should wrap over the hook from front to back.
A knitting yarn over is the same as a crochet yarn under. Is your head spinning yet? :)

2. Type of Hook

An inline hook is a good choice for binding off.

What is an inline hook? A hook with a straight throat and a non-bulging head. Your knitting needles don't have bulges at their tips, and neither should the crochet hook you use to bind off your knitted projects. You want a hook that can slip easily and smoothly into the loops on your knitting needle.

3. Hook Size

Use a hook the same size as, or smaller than, the knitting needles you used.

If your hook is too large, your bind off may be sloppy. If you're worried that a small hook might create a tight bind off, practice relaxing your tension. Experiment to find the best hook size for your project.

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Basic Crochet Bind Off Video Tutorial

This video shows you how to knit and purl a basic crochet bind off, and how to safely frog your bind off in case of mistakes.

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Crochet Bind Off Photo Tutorial

To bind off knit stitches:

1. Insert hook knitwise into first stitch, and knit the stitch (yarn under, pull a loop of yarn through knit stitch from back to front; keeping loop on hook, slip knit stitch off needle):

2. Repeat with the next stitch. You should now have 2 loops on your hook.
Draw the second loop through the first loop. You should now have 1 loop on your hook:

Repeat step 1 with the next stitch (now you'll have 2 loops on your hook again), then draw the second loop through the first loop (back to 1 loop now). Repeat across knit stitches until all are bound off.
  • To minimise these steps: insert hook knitwise, slip stitch off needle, yarn UNDER and draw through both loops on hook (see video for demonstration). Be careful to maintain relaxed tension.

To bind off a purl stitch:

Assuming you already have a loop on your hook....

1. With working yarn in front of work, insert hook purlwise into stitch.
2. Wrap yarn from front of hook to back of hook (yes, this is a yarn under, but instead of scooping the yarn with your hook you'll probably wrap it with your finger or "throw" it in some way).
3. Push the hook up and backwards through the stitch, taking the yarn with it.
4. Slide the loop off the needle.
Draw second loop through first loop (sorry, no photo for this step).

  • To minimise these steps: insert hook purlwise, slip stitch off needle, yarn UNDER and draw through both loops on hook (see video for demonstration). Be careful to maintain relaxed tension. (Note: Yarning under with the yarn in front is a bit awkward - you may need to grasp the yarn with the fingers of your left hand in order to wrap it properly before drawing it through the loops.)
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Next week, in Part 2, we'll take hook in hand and tackle something a little more advanced: the Suspended Bind Off and Jeny's Super Stretchy Bind Off (JSSBO). So swatch up a bit of knitting, and don't forget to practice those crochet yarn overs and yarn unders.

Until then, happy knitting and crocheting!

P.S. Don't forget, the Flowery Giveaway is open until Sunday 8/30/15. Click on the button below to enter.

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  1. Great to finally hear the voice behind the blog. Great tutorial. I always thought that it would be great to use a hook for casting off.
    Rosie xx

  2. Love this! Thank you for taking your time to do this for us. :) Have a great day! :)

  3. Oh, my goodness. You have created a wonderful tutorial. Thank you. (And, I especially loved hearing your voice, Sue.)
    xo, Ellen.

  4. Fantastic! I am just about to bind off a long scarf and this is just what I need. I know that knit and crochet are cousins or sisters or something, but I don't think I could ever see my way through their twisted loops to make sense of the "how" of them. (Does that even make sense?) You're a genius!

  5. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a yarn under. :)

  6. This was great! Thank you so much. I'm also a crocheter first and a knitter second so I really appreciate this tutorial. Thank you for going to so much work for us.

  7. Dear Sue,
    You are such a talent. I wonder, could you not look at something that is around and just improve upon it and come up with a great invention? (Like the weedeater, I did a post about it.) I am just saying, you have a great way of looking a the world and coming up with better things. When you make your marvelous invention, let me know, I will be more than pleased. x

  8. I might try this out. :-) Have a nice Sunday. Regula

  9. Now that I am back home I am enjoying catching up on your news, Sue, and I am rather in awe of the wonderful posts you have published since I last visited your site. Thank you for your incredible generosity in sharing your many talents with us. Your beautiful photos and interesting information always encourage me to appreciate life in general, and often I am challenged to try to develop a new skill or create a new project. Years ago a scrubbie pattern was shared with me and I bought the netting and tried to crochet with it, but wimped out on the process because the netting was tough on my hands and my crocheting with it did not look at all like the pattern's finished project photo. With your clear instructions and helpful hints I hope to give scrubbies another try!
    Bravo on the new scarf pattern that was published recently, too, and thanks for the bind off tutorial as well.
    Sue, I am so pleased that your husband is able to join you more and more in your cycle adventures and that he continues to grow in his ability to cope with his physical challenges so positively. You both inspire me [even though I have never been able to ride a bike and am not likely to try again] to continue to grow in my ability to do what I can do physically, like swimming and walking.
    Finally, thanks so much for your caring comment on my last post. I appreciate so much your kindness to me and highly value our blogging friendship. xx

  10. Thanks for another great tutorial
    We just got off our bikes. You inspire me. We rode 19 miles. Lots of wind. Lots of purple flowers and green green grasses

  11. I love the idea of using a crochet hook to bind off.. it's always fiddly and uncomfortable for me doing that part. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)


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