Fan the Flames Knitalong—Week 3: Time for the Perfect Finish: Binding Off, Fastening Off & Blocking

By Patty Lyons

I’m so glad we had this time together — just to have a laugh or sing a song … anyone, anyone? OK, for those of you not old enough to remember The Carol Burnett Show, that’s my way of saying it’s time for our KAL to come to a close!

We’ve covered a lot of ground! Last week, we learned how to fix mistakes, but there are still three important steps left: binding off, fastening off and blocking.

Just as we needed a special cast-on to travel around the path of our lace, we also need a special bind-off. There are many bind-offs that will give you a bit more room, but here’s one of my favorites.

Once we bind off, we need to finish off in a special way for an in-the-round project. First let’s talk about the last stitch. I’m not a fan of stringing your yarn tail through the last stitch, because that actually creates an extra stitch. It sticks out like a little lump. When I’m down to my last stitch of a bind off, here’s what you do:

Cut your yarn,

Cut your yarn,

Lift up on your needle, pulling the last stitch up until the cut yarn comes out.

Lift up on your needle, pulling the last stitch up until the cut yarn comes out.

Here, you can see that the final bound-off stitches are higher than the beginning of your round. That’s because when you work in the round, you are really working in spirals (think of a slinky), so we have to smooth down the gap.

Here, you can see that the final bound-off stitches are higher than the beginning of your round. That’s because when you work in the round, you are really working in spirals (think of a slinky), so we have to smooth down the gap.

Start by putting the yarn tail on a tapestry needle and pulling it through the base of the braid of the first bound-off stitch. You’ve now created 1/2 a stitch.

Start by putting the yarn tail on a tapestry needle and pulling it through the base of the braid of the first bound-off stitch. You’ve now created 1/2 a stitch.

Finish off the stitch by inserting the needle into the last bound-off stitch.

Finish off the stitch by inserting the needle into the last bound-off stitch.

Ta-da! Your newly created “stitch” closes the gap between the first bound-off stitch and the last bound-off stitch.

Ta-da! Your newly created “stitch” closes the gap between the first bound-off stitch and the last bound-off stitch.

Now you can weave in the end on the wrong side of the cowl by going in and out of the purl bumps.

Now you can weave in the end on the wrong side of the cowl by going in and out of the purl bumps.

Now that your little beauty is finished, it’s time to really finish. And that’s where blocking comes in!

The nice thing about blocking is that you can control the shaping.

The nice thing about blocking is that you can control the shaping.

On this cowl I decided I wanted the base to be blocked a bit wider so it would drape down over my shoulders, so I’ve pinned out the base to be wider. Here I am spraying the whole piece with water.  I’ll gently tap that water in and allow it to dry completely. Once one side is dry, I can flip it over and do the same thing on the other side.

Blocking also helps you finish off the shaping of the lace. Here you can see the points of the flame stitches pulled up and pinned.

Blocking also helps you finish off the shaping of the lace. Here you can see the points of the flame stitches pulled up and pinned.

Once it’s totally dry, you can remove the pins and the shape will hold! Isn’t wool an amazing thing!

Once it’s totally dry, you can remove the pins and the shape will hold! Isn’t wool an amazing thing!

Here’s my Zara version of the cowl blocked so the sides remained straight up and down.

Here’s the Tahki Zara version of the cowl blocked so the sides remained straight up and down.

You decide!

At the end of the day it’s ALL your decision. I hope this knitalong has demonstrated just how many decisions we knitters are free to make. The pattern is just our jumping-off point, but every step of the way, from our yarn choice, our needle choice, our cast-on method, how we create our stitches, our bind-off, blocking … it’s all up to us! And really, isn’t that great?

Happy knitting and embrace the knitter’s decisions. It’s what makes our knitting OURS!

Patty

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