Friday, November 28, 2014

A New Bind Off for Knitted Projects?

Does anyone remember the old Reese's Peanut Butter Cups commercials? Person A is rollerskating while nibbling on a chocolate bar. Around the corner strolls Person B, eating peanut butter by the spoonful from an open jar. A collides with B, dismayed accusations are hurled ("You got chocolate in my peanut butter!" "You got peanut butter on my chocolate!") - then they each have a taste and discover to their surprise that chocolate and peanut butter make a pretty good combination.
That's how I feel about crochet and knitting. I love to blur the lines between the two crafts, introducing knit-like stitches into crochet, and using elements of crochet in knitting. Sometimes the results are surprising.
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A few days ago, I was searching the internet for a stretchy bind off to use on a fingerless mitt for Mr. M. Though I found several (bind offs I mean), and practiced them diligently, I wasn't completely comfortable with any of them. The fault was not in the bind offs, but in the knitter. I'm just not very good with the needles.

So I took my crochet hook, thought about some of my favourite stretchy crochet stitches, and started to improvise. That's how I stumbled on what I think may be a completely new bind off (or new to me, at any rate):

Mrs. Micawber is pleased to announce
the birth of a new bind off

I call it Mrs. M's Accidental Bind Off, or MMABO. (If it's out there already under another name, please let me know in the comments or via email, and I'll gladly give credit where credit is due.)

  • Quick and simple (especially for crocheters who don't knit much - like me)
  • Thicker and softer than a standard (chain) bind off
  • Stretchier than a standard bind off
  • Easy to do, using a SMALLER(!) hook than the knitting needles used for the project
  • Subtle when worked from the RS, and decorative when worked from the WS
  • Easily frogged :)
  • Adaptable to knitting needles for those who aren't comfortable with crochet hooks (but really, who wouldn't want to bind off with a hook?)
I've used MMABO on stockinette, garter, and seed stitch, and it worked equally well with all of them. I haven't tried it on ribbing - though MMABO can be purled, its chunkiness may not adapt well to a k/p transition. (If you try it with ribbing let me know how it works!)

The photo above shows the RS view of MMABO worked RS facing. Here's how it looks WS facing on a stockinette swatch:

WS view

MMABO can also be worked WS facing, giving a very textured edge on the RS:

Worked WS facing on stockinette, viewed from RS

Worked WS facing on stockinette, viewed from WS

And as you can see, it's fairly stretchy!

How about a demonstration?

MMABO Videotutorial

Phototutorial with Instructions in Plain English

Believe it or not, MMABO actually works better with a hook that is smaller than your knitting needles. If that makes you nervous, try it first with a hook the same size as your needles - and if it comes out too loose, you can easily frog it and try again with a smaller hook.

Setting Up for the Accidental Bind Off:
With crochet hook, knit first stitch.
Knit second stitch (2 loops now on crochet hook),
then pull the second stitch (top loop on hook) through the first stitch (bottom loop on hook).

Stop for a moment and look at your stitches. You will be inserting your hook in the stitch just below the stitch you just made:

Working the Accidental Bind Off:
*Insert hook from front to back through the stitch below the loop on your hook,
yarn over and pull up a loop:

Insert hook knitwise through next stitch on knitting (left) needle,
slip stitch off needle (3 loops now on crochet hook):

Yarn over and pull through all loops on hook. First MMABO complete!

Repeat from * across project.

If you're working from the right side, here's how it should look after a few stitches:

And here's how it will look when you've done a lot of stitches:

When all stitches have been bound off, cut yarn and finish as usual.

Remember, you can work MMABO from either the right or the wrong side. Here's a sample worked WS facing over seed stitch rows:

(A shock of orange after all that soft lavender. This must be Mr. M's mitt.)

How to Knit the MMABO (though using a crochet hook is MUCH quicker)

Warning: Instructions are not written in official knitting language as I don't speak it very well!

Setup: Knit first 2 stitches, insert tip of left needle into farther (first) stitch on right hook, pass farthest (first) stitch over nearest (second) stitch and off the needle.
Begin Accidental Bind Off: *Insert tip of right needle from front to back through stitch below, yarn over and pull a loop through and to the front (2 loops now on right needle), insert right needle knitwise through next stitch on left needle, slip stitch from left needle (3 loops now on right needle), insert left needle through 2 farther (first and second) loops on right needle (left needle should be in front), pass 2 farther loops over nearest (third) loop and off the needle. (If passing both loops over is awkward, you may pass them one at a time, starting with the middle stitch.)
Repeat from *.

A Further Note to Knitters: Not being much of a knitter myself, I haven't been able to invent a coordinating cast-on. (Perhaps it will happen by accident some day.) But if you MUST have matching edges to your knit projects and would like to use MMABO, use a provisional cast-on. Then you can frog the waste yarn when the project is done, and bind off the live-loop starting edge using MMABO. (Edited to add: the provisional cast on suggestion was not my own idea. I got it from reading TechKnitter's excellent post on matching cast ons to bind offs. Sorry I forgot to credit her before!)

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If you have any questions, or find a mistake in the tutorials, please let me know in the comment box below. You can also email me (address in Profile at right) or reach me in Ravelry as MrsMicawber.

Thanks so much for viewing, and happy knitting AND crocheting!

Now for a cup of tea and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup....

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  1. What a super brilliant idea! I don't knit often, but would love to try that bind off when I do. I hope you can talk the mister into modeling his new mitts! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  2. This could help my bind off edge not be so tight compared to my cast on edge, couldn't it. Hmmm, thanks for sharing, Sue! :) xx

  3. A great idea, clever you. I like the extreme stretchiness, very useful.

  4. A great idea Sue thanks for taking the patience to show us. :)

  5. Love this bind off. When I do lace knitting in the round, I always start if off with a crochet magic loop and then add how ever many stitches is on the pattern and then I am able to have a perfect circle without leaving a hole. Crochet and Knitting work perfectly together....I am always reminded of this when I do tunisian crochet. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. :)

  6. I will try this out! I love to finish with a crochet hook anyhow. THANK YOU

  7. Oo! Genius. You are so daring on all yarn-y fronts!

  8. Oh MY! You ARE a genius! You might even make me knit again! But it is unlikely, I knitted a scarf in 1985 and haven't touched the knitting needles since!

  9. OMG! I Love this bind off. I will use this on all of knitting projects. You are brilliant. Looking forward to your next accident.

  10. Just wondering how you would use this BO and join the last st to the first for something knit in the round, like mitts or socks?

    1. Because MMABO is so like crochet (technically is crochet, now that I come to think about it), I use a crochet join - specifically the Invisible Join. You can find a tutorial here:

      Be sure to bring the yarn tail down through both back strands, then take it through one stitch to the right (working from the WS). Weave in extra securely if your yarn is the squishy, non-grippy type. If you're making seamed mitts, you can also use the yarn tail to sew the seam down to the thumbhole. I've used this join on two pairs of mitts so far and it's worked out very well.

      Thanks for commenting! :)


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