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December 15, 2005

The three-needle bind off will make you feel Very Very Smart. Drink up!

Flush with my knitting high, making magic loopy stitches and drop stitches and all kinds of tomfoolery, did I realize I was quickly approaching PERIL and DOOM... a.k.a. The End Of The Scarf? No! For all my earthquake preparedness and gnome theories, when it comes to knitting projects I am just living on the edge. And the edge often has pom-poms on it.

So, yesterday commenter Kim asked how I was gonna finish the other end of the scarf without the loopies pointing in the wrong direction.

I am so glad you asked that.

I had not considered that the loop stitch has to be done a certain way, directionally speaking, and that perhaps the smart thing to do when using a loop stitch as fringe would be knit two halves of a scarf from the bottom up and join in the middle.

And of course when this inneresting dilemma came up, I had already forever felted the new ball of yarn to the old one and knit several rows more of drop stitch and was thinking to myself, WELL WHAT DO YOU KNOW MAYBE I AM A REAL KNITTER AFTER ALL!

Oh yeah. I'm REAL something. That is for sure.

Instead of ripping back to the felted join, I decided ALL AT ONCE that it is far better to have a graft/seam/whatever-you-call-it at the end of a scarf than in the middle. If it's at the end and you mess up, you can always stick a brooch on it. Or a pom-pom!

I was excited to make the other set of loops for the end of my scarf, and so last night on the bus, I put the drop-stitch portion on a stitch holder and used the same size 15 bamboo needles to begin knitting loops -- using the other yarn tail from the opposite end of my skein. Some people have a candle that burns at both ends. I have a yarn skein that knits from both ends. Woohoo!

Here I have my half-scarf, on the holder, and two rows of loop fringe knitted off the tail of the new ball of yarn:
three-needle bind off

Aren't stitch holders a cool invention? The first time I saw one was at Stitch 'n Bitch, and it was in this one girl's knitting bag. I thought, "Hotdamn that's a big diaper pin! Who needs a diaper pin THAT big? Oh. OH. eeewwwwwww. But whatever. I Am Not A Judger. EEEEWWWWWW." And for the next month or so I went around thinking this girl at Stitch 'n Bitch had some wacky personal predilictions. Hey. It is Los Angeles, you know?

But I digress.

In theory, this scarf would come together just like the tunnel below the English Channel -- one team starts in France, the other in England and they meet up somewhere in the middle and join without a hitch. Except. I'm pretty sure scarf-making is not anything at all like tunnel-building. Thank goodness it's just yarn and not world peace. I'd hate to screw that one up.

Before long, the drop-stitch body of the scarf was done, I only had enough yarn left for finishing. Time to seam it up!

The Three-Needle Bind Off is one of those knitting things that sounds SCARY. But it's totally not. Some things just look so hard in a book but they really are easy as pie. And that makes a person feel Smart. And feeling Smart means I can drink wine and fool myself into thinking I have brain cells to spare.

The only thing SCARY about this technique is finding three needles of the same size. (You can use a circular needle in place of the two straight needles in the left hand if you want.) And using a bigger needle as the third dude in the menage-a-trois needle lovefest works fine, too.

The Basics:
1) End the scarf by completing a drop-stitch row. Normally, I would do a row of drop stitch, then a row of regular knitting. But because I'm about to join the body to the loopy edge, I'm just gonna omit the plain knit row.

2) On the other end are two row of knit loops on a stitch holder. Put those guys back on a knitting needle.

3) Normally, if you were going to bind off a regular old row of knitting, you'd knit the first stitch off the left needle. Then knit the second stitch. Pass first knit over second knit. Easy! Pie!

With the CRAZY THREE NEEDLE MADNESS, you do the same thing. Seriously. But you just hold the Scarf Body and Scarf Loops together in the left hand and use the third needle to knit through BOTH stitches of each left needle at the same time.

4) Then do it again to get two stitches sitting on your right-hand needle.

5) Then pass the first stitch of the right-hand needle over the second like normal binding off.


Stop your whining... it's just ten stitches on a simple scarf.

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

three-needle bind off

You'll see the finished thing tomorrow when I write an eleventeen thousand word essay on the joys of blocking. I swear ya'll. Get me started talking about knitting and I will never shut up.

But I can't help it! What I love about knitting is that in the course of this simple scarf I've done two crazy stitch techniques and one mysterious-sounding bind off plus I threw in a felted join, two glasses of wine and three trips on the crosstown bus. It may not be world peace or the Chunnel, but it's good enough for the Sobakowa:

soba clause

Posted by laurie at December 15, 2005 11:44 AM