Podcast Episode 8: Bind Off Loosely



We’re often exhorted to “bind off loosely,” but sometimes that can be hard. Today, I talk about how knitting helped stay calm and loose through some alarming medical news; how I almost completely blew it while having a shawl that I designed test-knit; and how to work Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off without it ruffling at the edges.

Mentioned in this episode:

Fun with interchangeable needles

I could say to you that I love interchangeable needle sets because they are more cost-effective than buying each size needle individually. But that would be a big, fat, Fritos-eating lie. They are more cost-effective, but that is not why I love them.

No, I love interchangeable needle sets because I also love Legos. Pieces! That fit together! And then can be taken apart! And put back together again in new ways! I never get tired of it! Nor, apparently, do I tire of exclamation marks!

But perhaps you do!

So much does the interchangeability of the pieces intrigue me that I’ve stumbled upon a few tricks that you can do with these sets. Some of these I picked up from others, and some of these you have perhaps figured out on your own.

  1. We may as well start with the obvious, just in case it isn’t obvious: Let’s say you need to change needle sizes mid-project, like when you’re switching from ribbing to stockinette. With fixed needles, you would need to knit the stitches onto a new needle. With interchangeables, you can simply change the tips on the very cord that’s holding your project.
  2. But you can also change cord length. Let’s say you start knitting a hat on a 20″ needle and now you want to switch to a 16″ length. You could simply knit the next round on the new length, as above, but why? You’re switching because the stitches are already too tight around the needle, yes? Why muddle through one more round, cursing your fumbly fingers? Instead, pop the needle tip off the right end of the needle you’re using, and pop it onto the new cord length. So you’ll have one of your size 6 tips (say) on the old cord, and the other size 6 tip on the new cord. The other end of each cord is left bare. Work the next round onto the new cord length. Just watch to make sure the stitches don’t go flying off the exposed ends. When you have gotten all the stitches onto the new cord length, switch over the other needle tip. Hey presto.
  3. Do you have the common problem where your purl stitches are looser than your knit stitches? If you’re knitting stockinette back and forth on an interchangeable circular, try putting a needle size smaller onto the end of the cord that you use to purl your stitches.
  4. This trick is specific to the KnitPicks interchangeable sets, but works with any of them (metal, wood, or plastic). In fact, I picked up this tip from the business’ owner, Kelley Petkun, on her podcast. There’s a tiny little hole near the join on KnitPicks interchangeables. Next time you’re knitting lace on one of these needles, use that hole to create a lifeline. Simply thread some dental floss or embroidery thread through that little hole before you begin your next row. Then work across the row as usual, and the floss will pull right through that row as you knit. Instant lifeline.

Got any good tips of your own?

It’s a snap… kind of

While I’m crossing the T’s on the Rodeo Kid pattern – just have to take a photo of my kid friend wearing the jacket! – I thought I’d share a brief tutorial that I developed while writing this pattern.

Ever wanted to use snaps as a closure on a knitted garment? It seems like such a great idea – much easier than buttons for a little kid to fasten and unfasten, for example. But yanking open those snaps over and over again would surely stretch the knitting out of shape.

The solution is to borrow a time-honored tradition in button-band finishing: sewing on some ribbon as a facing on the underside of each button band. My mother used to do this on sweaters even when she was using buttons – again, to keep the knitting from stretching out of shape over time.

So here’s what you do (instructions here apply to a cardigan):

  1. Ideally, purchase your ribbon after completing most of the garment, but before knitting the button bands. That way, you can choose the ribbon you like, and then knit the button bands to the correct width to support that ribbon. Select a ribbon that is not too thick (e.g., avoid a hefty grosgrain), or you won’t be able to get your snaps through the combined knitted-ribbon layers.
  2. Work up your button bands. Make them slightly wider than your ribbon. Just a centimeter on either side will be plenty of extra width.
  3. Block your sweater, making sure block the button bands carefully.
  4. Cut two lengths of your ribbon, each a few inches longer than your button bands.
  5. Pin the ribbon lengths to the underside of the button bands.
  6. Using a sharp embroidery needle and clear, nylon thread, carefully stitch the ribbon down to the button band. As you go, keep checking to make sure that neither the ribbon nor the button band are buckling. You want both to lie flat.
  7. Following the instructions on your packet of snaps, clamp the snaps together through the button band / ribbon layer. This step can be a bit tricky, since the teeth on snaps are typically not very long, and the knitting and ribbon together can be quite thick. Still, with some persistence, I managed to get regular-sized snaps through a worsted-weight yarn worked in seed stitch and a fairly substantial ribbon.
  8. If you care about such things, put the top snaps on the left button band for a boy’s/men’s sweater, on the right button band for a girl’s/women’s sweater.