Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Reworking the Rainbow - Super Stretchy Bind-off (Cast-off) for Socks

Rainbow SocksAbout two years ago, my DD chose the yarn for hand-knit socks and described a pattern to me. I happily embarked on the journey, since the self-striping rainbow yarn was fun. In the end, she couldn’t stand to wear wool, and I was left with the choice of ripping and reclaiming the yarn, or gifting them, because I couldn’t get the cuffs past my ankles.

Instead, I ripped back just past the ribbed cuffs that were worked on size 000 (1.5mm) needles, which made them extremely elastic and perfect for staying on the calves of a 9 year old. I put the stitches onto size 1 (2.25mm) needles and worked 2x2 ribbing. When it came time to bind-off, I stopped to think.

The standard bind-off is too firm, even when worked on larger needles. Sewn bind-offs are better, but the best one is the 1x1 tubular bind-off, which I did not do, and the others have to be done so loosely that they tend to look sloppy, plus sewn bind-offs are very tedious. On my last two pairs of socks, I simply doubled the number of stitches, by adding yarn-overs after every stitch on the last row before binding-off.

Rainbow SocksThis time I tried something different – still very stretchy, but without the YO holes, a bit more decorative, since it's done in purl. You could also work it in knit, in ribbing, or whatever stitch pattern you prefer:


Purl 1, *yo, BO over the yo, purl 1, BO1, rep from * till the end, then fasten off as usual. Weave in the yarn tail underneath the “V” of the 1st BO stitch, then back though the middle of the “V” of your last BO stitch, to bring the edges together seamlessly. For me, I prefer to BO with a tiny crochet hook, since it’s much easier to pull the yo through the st than to try to leapfrog the st over the yo on tiny needles.

The socks now fit me perfectly, and await patiently for the first nip of cool weather. Then I’ll return to the Kool-Aid sock blank. I’m trying the Upstream master pattern from Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways for Sock Knitters.

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