Sunday, October 18, 2015

Binding Off Knitted Projects with a Crochet Hook, Part 5: Icelandic Bind Off

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This series was developed for crocheters who knit,
and for knitters who have never bound off with a hook.
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Welcome back to our series on using a crochet hook to bind off knitted projects. Here's what we've covered so far:

Part 1 - Basic terminology (crochet yarn over vs. crochet yarn under), recommended hook types and sizes, and Basic Crochet Bind Off.
Part 2 - Suspended Bind Off.
Part 3 - Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, or JSSBO.
Part 4 - Miraculous Elastic or Lacey Bind Off

Our previous tutorials have focused on bind offs suitable for stockinette, pattern stitches, and/or ribbing. Today, we'll switch gears and learn a simple bind off suitable for garter stitch projects: the Icelandic Bind Off.

The Icelandic Bind Off is not the only garter-stitch-appropriate bind off*, but it's the easiest to work with a hook.

*I very much wanted to feature Annie Cholewa's Knitsofacto Bind Off, a lovely twisted-purl bind off that gives a beautiful finish to garter stitch projects - but it turned out to work better with needles than with a hook! If you're interested in exploring alternate bind offs, do check out her tutorial.

And now, our feature presentation....

Icelandic Bind Off

The Icelandic Bind Off is fast, fairly straightforward, and looks great on garter stitch fabric. (I've read that if used for stockinette, it makes a rolled edge, but haven't tried this myself.)

To work the Icelandic Bind Off, you need to reach through one stitch to knit another. This can feel a bit awkward at first, but with a little practice you'll find it's easy to develop a rhythm.

Why it works so well for garter stitch: Garter stitch fabric is ridgy on both sides. Because the Icelandic Bind Off tips slightly forward, it tucks neatly into the ridges below, while rolling its own WS ridges up to form a slightly bumpy top edge that blends right in with garter stitch.

Here are some advantages of the Icelandic Bind Off:
  • Looks great on garter stitch projects
  • Is moderately stretchy without distorting the edge of the fabric
  • Adapts well to a crochet hook
  • Uses only knit stitches
  • Encourages good tension by keeping a previous loop on the needle as the current loop is worked
  • Can be worked with a hook smaller than the knitting needle
The Icelandic is another bind off so simple that the steps can't be minimised - which is a Good Thing!

Icelandic Bind Off Video Tutorial

Icelandic Bind Off Photo Tutorial

~ Try using a hook 2 sizes down from your knitting needle; experiment as necessary to find the best hook size for your project.
~ Don't forget to yarn under when working a knit stitch with your crochet hook.

1. Insert hook purlwise (from right to left, in front of the needle) into the first stitch.
2. Hook the second stitch with the tip of your hook.
3. Rotate hook back and up, bringing it knitwise through the second stitch; this will pull the second stitch halfway through the first, creating an "X".
4. Yarn under, and...
5. Knit the second stitch only (the new stitch will come up through the legs of the "X")
6. Slip the stitch off the needle (bringing the other stitch with it).
7. Insert the tip of the needle into the stitch you just made, and...
8. Slip the stitch back ON to the needle, keeping the crochet hook in front.

Now your hook is in the right place to work the next stitch.

To continue the bind off, repeat Steps 2-8. Pretty simple, huh?

If you make a mistake, and need to frog the Icelandic Bind Off:

Remove the hook, and slip the top stitch off the needle:

To frog, remove hook and slip top loop off needle....

Now turn your work around. With WS facing you:
pull on the working yarn to release the stitch,
pop the horizontal loop off the vertical loop,
pick up the vertical loop by inserting your needle from right to left and front to back:

On WS, pull the working yarn out of the stitch, pop the horizontal loop off, and pick up the stitch.

(Pull, pop, pick up. It's a nice alliterative frogging mantra.)

Tips for maintaining good tension: As you work this bind off, don't keep the stitches all tightened up at the tip of the needle and the neck of the hook. Instead, keep them down on the barrel of the needle, and move your crochet hook freely back and forth, so the stitches encounter the full thickness of both needle and hook.


And that wraps up the tutorial portion of our series on binding off with a crochet hook.

In the next and final post of the series, I'll review what we've learned, give tips for converting other knitted bind offs for use with a crochet hook (and for deciding whether a hook is the right tool), and offer more helpful links for those interested in exploring alternate bind offs.

Until then, happy knitting and crocheting and binding off!

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Many thanks to the Knit Freedom website for helpful information and a great tutorial on knitting the Icelandic bind off.

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  1. One day, I shall finish my cardigan and will definitely use one of these. Thank you for putting them up dear Sue.

  2. Thanks for your hard work and generous gift to us, Sue. xx

  3. Dear Sue,
    I also say thank you for your hard and generous work. I cannot begin to know how much time this has taken and what care you have given to it all.
    xoxo, Ellenl.

  4. I had no idea that you could bind off knitting with a hook, Sue! I've been stalling starting knitting again, ever since I accidentally knitted together parts that shouldn't be with a circular needle. I tried unraveling to correct the mistakes, but couldn't pick up stitches but there were so many and I kept dropping them. I ended up with a big loose ball of yarn about eighteen inches in diameter crammed in a crate! LOL Maybe one day soon ....


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