The basic cast off works very well when you want a nice firm edge with little stretch, but sometimes you need a bit more give. The top of a toe-up sock, a neck opening that needs to go over your head – there’s lots of places where you want an edge to stretch comfortably and then spring happily back into shape.
The basic cast off worked loosely with a larger needle size goes some way to helping, but there’s better solutions, and we’ve got one for you today. It’s Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn bind off (somehow, “Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn cast off” doesn’t sound quite right, so we’ll avoid it). It’s easy, it’s stretchy and it’s neat. All you need is a yarn needle.
Cut the yarn, leaving a long and generous tail (45-60cm is enough for a sock) and thread the yarn needle with the tail. Insert the tip of the yarn needle from right to left through the first two stitches on the knitting needle:
Pull it all the way through both stitches:
Then insert the needle from left to right (note change of direction!) through the rightmost stitch only:
Let that rightmost stitch fall off the tip of the knitting needle – it’s now safely cast off:
Repeat the process: right to left through both stitches, left to right through the rightmost. If you pull the yarn tight, you’ll risk making the cast off tight, so relax and keep a nice loose tension. When you’ve cast off several stitches – say, one needleful of a sock – take a moment to admire your handiwork:
When you’ve cast off all the stitches, just weave in the yarn tail as you usually would. Easy, stretchy and neat!
That’s a sock being cast off in the pictures – a terribly dotey baby sock knit from the toe up, using a technique that can make socks of any size. There’s a class on this coming up in September, so check here for information.
And yes, Elizabeth Zimmermann was a genius.