I’ve been working on a long-sleeved version of my Arabesque Metallic Sweater pattern. Since Paton’s Metallic Yarn is 90% tencil and, therefore, not stretchy, casting on and binding off has some challenges. I think this issue exists for any plant-based fiber yarn.
I already knew a great method for casting on to make a stretchy edge – the knitted cast-on. While this takes a little time to essentially knit on every stitch of the cast-on row, it is well worth the time to provide a cast on that stretches in your project. What I wasn’t sure of was a good bind-off. Well, I think I finally found one.
I don’t have a name for this type of bind-off, but you end up knitting into each stitch twice. I guess you could call it a knitted bind-off. The steps are pretty easy…
Knit the first 2 stitches individually. Then slip these stitches back on the left-hand needle and knit the 2 stitches together through the back loop. Now you have 1 stitch on your right-hand needle. *Knit the next stitch on the left-hand needle. Slip these 2 stitches back onto the left-hand needle and knit the 2 stitches together through the back loop.* You repeat this (* to*) all the way down the row. What you end up with is a nice, even, and stretchy cast-off that has an even chain flowing down the edge. This bind-off also works well if you’re binding off on a purl-side row.
I was originally taught to use this bind-off method when using thick and thin yarns, singles yarns without much twist, or roving to provide a strong bind-off edge. Since the thin part of thick and thin yarns may be very thin and may break if you put too much tension on them, this cast-off provides extra strength on the cast-off row. Same reason for roving yarns which can separate under tension.
However, I think this bind-off works very well with plant-based yarns that don’t have a lot of (or any!) stretch in the yarn fiber itself. In stockinette stitch, the knitted fabric of plant-based yarns stretches just fine due to the nature of the stitch itself, but my cast-off always seemed too tight with a basic bind-off.
I used to bind off using a bigger needle size to build in some stretch. I think this is now my go-to bind-off for yarns without much give in the fiber itself as it’s a much easier, and stronger, cast-off method. Try it yourself and tell me what you think!
I hope you’re having a great day! Happy knitting!