Casting Off

So now you have finished your lovely knitting project - but how do you get it off the needles? Just like casting on there are many ways to cast off too. 

Cast off edges can be firm, stretchy, decorative and even sewn. Your project pattern should give you some indication of the best cast off method to use.

  • Knitted Cast Off - also known as the traditional bind off. Gives a firm, smooth edge
  • Lace Bind Off - produces a stretchy, flexible edge. Ideal for lace projects
  • I-Cord Bind Off - gives an attractive, rounded and flexible edge
  • 3 Needle Bind Off - used for grafting 2 sets of live stitches together
  • Kitchener Stitch - used for grafting 2 sets of live stitches together. Worked using a tapestry needle it is often used to close sock toes.

Knitted Cast Off

This is one of the most commonly used methods of casting off knitting, and it produces a nice firm edge. For a looser finish you may want to go up a needle size.

1. Knit the 1st and 2nd stitch

2. Insert the left hand needle into the front of the first stitch on the right hand needle and lift this over the 2nd stitch

3. Knit the next stitch on the left hand needle

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you get to one remaining stitch on the right hand needle

5. Break off the yarn leaving a tail long enough to weave in

6. Thread the yarn through the last stitch and pull to close


Lace Cast Off

This cast off technique creates a lovey stretchy edge, making it an ideal choice for lace projects.

1. Knit 2 stitches together through the back loops

2. Slip the stitch just made back to the left hand needle, purlwise

Repeat these 2 steps to the last stitch. To close off the last stitch, break the yarn and thread it through the stitch pulling tightly to close.

Handy hint: As you get into the flow of this cast off you may find it easier not to pull the right hand needle right out of the stitch when transferring it back to the left hand needle. 

Instead take the tip down and insert it straight into the back of the next stitch on the left hand needle, before knitting the 2 stitches together through the back loops


I-Cord Bind Off

This bind off takes quite a bit longer than other methods and uses more yarn, however it does give a lovely, clean and professional finish. 

It creates a nice elastic edge and is good for necklines and cuffs etc.

In this demonstration I am casting off with a contrast colour

1. Cast on 3 stitches using the knitted cast on method (see cast on tutorials for instructions)  

2. Knit the first 2 stitches

3. Insert the right hand needle into the back loops of the 3rd i-cord stitch and the 1st stitch of the original knitting. 

4. Knit these 2 stitches together through the back loops.

5. Transfer the 3 stitches on the right hand needle back to the left hand needle taking care not to twist them. Repeat steps 2 - 5

*You may find it easier to transfer these stitches in one go by inserting the left hand needle into the front of all 3 stitches on the right hand needle and then sliding the right hand needle out (see the video at 2:45 for a demonstration

To cast off the last stitch, transfer the 3 stitches back to the left hand needle. Knit the first 2 stitches. Insert the left hand needle into the front of the first stitch on the right hand needle and lift this over the 2nd stitch. Knit the next stitch. Lift the 2nd stitch over the first as before. Break the yarn and pull this through te the remaining stitch to close.


3 Needle Bind Off

This is a great way to bind off 2 sets of live stitches without the need for sewing. It creates smooth join and a solid seam.

In this demonstration I am binding off the 6 stitches for each loop of the Chain Reaction shawl. 

1. Hold both sets of live stitches, with the right sides facing together in your left hand, lining them up so that the first stitches to be worked are at the tips of the needles.

2. Using a third needle, insert through the front legs of the first stitches on both needles.

3. Wrap the yarn round and bring through both stitches, knitting them together at the same time.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the next stitch on the front and back needles.

5. Using one of the needles in your left hand, lift up the first stitch on your right hand needle and pull it over the 2nd stitch - binding off 1 stitch.

6. Repeat steps 2 - 5 until you reach the end of the row, or section that requires binding off. When you get to the very last stitch, cut the yarn and pull this through the stitch to close.

The photo to the right shows:

Top: 3 Needle Bind off - Right Side, showing the joined stitches

Bottom: 3 Needle Bind off - Wrong Side, showing the seam


Kitchener Stitch

The kitchener stitch is a sewn bind off used to graft 2 sets of live stitches together. It is often used to bind off sock toes.

To work this bind off you will need to have and equal number of stitches on 2 needles. Before you begin, cut the yarn and thread it through a tapestry needle, leaving a long enough tail to complete the bind off.

Hold both needles together and ensure that the working yarn is on the front needle.

Set Up

Insert the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle, as if to purl and pull the yarn through. Do not drop the stitch from the needle.

Next, insert the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the back needle as if to knit and pull the yarn through. Do not drop the stitch from the needle.

Step 1: Front Needle - KNIT the first stitch and drop off the needle. PURL the next stitch but do not drop.

Step 2: Back Needle - PURL the first stitch and drop off the needle. KNIT the next stitch but do not drop.

Repeat these 2 steps until you have 1 stitch left on each needle.

Front needle: KNIT and drop

Back needle: PURL and drop

With one hand in the sock, poke the needle through the top of the sock and draw the yarn through ready for weaving in.