Hot Tip: Slope your bind-off

Hot Tip: Slope your bind-off

I’m preeeeetty sure the first time I ever encountered the Sloped Bind-Off was in a Brooklyn Tweed pattern (that has come up again so often lately, Bellows). Since then, I’ve used it everywhere it makes sense in my knitting, and in my own three sleeveless patterns: Anna Vest, Camellia Tank and Sloper (coming soon). It’s useful anywhere you want a smoother bind-off than the stair-step effect that traditional bind-off leads to — so in cases where you’re binding off gradually (a few stitches per row at a time), such as with armhole or shoulder shaping. But I find it especially key when the edge you’re creating is the finished edge, and not one you’re going to seam or pick-up stitches into, such as the armhole edge of Sloper (that’s a funny coincidence, I just realized) pictured above.

So how do you work the sloped bind-off? Easy: When you’re working the last row before a BO row — e.g., you know the next row begins with something like “BO 4 sts, work as established to end …” — you stop one stitch short of the end of the row. Turn your work. Now you’re ready to start that BO row, but you have one unworked stitch already on your right needle. With yarn in back, slip the first stitch from the left needle to the right needle, and pass the unworked stitch over it, binding off that one stitch. Now proceed with the rest of the instructions. If the instruction is to bind off more than one stitch at that point, you only do this with the first one — the adjacent stitches are bound off as usual. Repeat the sloped BO each time the first stitch on the following row is to be bound off.

WHY? When you BO a stitch the normal way, it lies at a 90-degree angle to your fabric — it’s a square corner. So if you BO 4 sts and knit the rest of the row, then work your way back to the end of the following row (back to where you started, in other words), then BO the next few stitches on the third row, you’re terracing your work, right? With the sloped BO, the BO stitch at the edge is leaning into the fabric from the row below at more of a 90-degree angle, so you’re creating a curve instead of a terrace. So simple and yet such impact!


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17 thoughts on “Hot Tip: Slope your bind-off

  1. I have used the sloped bind off for years, using it for necklines as well as for the underarm bind offs when making set in sleeves (and I always prefer set in sleeves). But for the sloped shoulder, I more often sub in short rows as long as doing so will not disrupt a pattern. I have narrow, sloping shoulders, and I usually add more slope to the shoulder line, which removes the under arm bunching that bothers many of us.

  2. I don’t think I’ve done this before. I can’t remember it, anyway. Nice finishing tip!

  3. Quince & Co Just published a tutorial for the same tip last week, sloped bind off must be in the air ! I tried it before but didn’t know you had to leave the last stitch of the previous row unworked, so it did not look as good as it does on your lovely sweater. I will definitely use this in the future, it looks so much better.

  4. What’s a good way to get a smooth edge on something as simple as a scarf. As a new knitter my edges are not what i want to be seen. Linda

  5. OR, you could work short rows to slope your shoulders and join with the 3-needle BO. In case you’d rather knit than sew. I’m biased (apologies for the pun).

  6. I tried a sloped bind off for the first time last year when knitting a Brooklyn Tweed sweater pattern (Hawser). Makes a nice, neat finish. I think EZ also explained it in Knitting Without Tears.

  7. I knit my first fully seamed sweater last year and did the usual stair step bind-off. Seaming was wonky and the shoulder has a strange lump because of the uneven and excess fabric. The sloped bind-off would be a much better approach. Thanks for sharing it! (Purl Soho has a great demo video of it on YouTube, by the way)

    • I don’t have any idea who might have invented the sloped bind-off (or anything else I pass along). I just try to always note where *I* first ran across a thing, which in this case was a BT pattern.

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