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Down the Bind Off Rabbit Hole

Finishing is at the top of my make it or break it list.  You can knit the more gorgeous sweater from the most luxurious yarn and ruin it with sloppy finishing.  I’m not a perfectionist anywhere else, stitch count is irrelevant to me.  Sometimes I row out working stockinette flat, whatever.  It’ll block out.  (no it won’t.  don’t care.)

My approach to finishing is much different.  It’s really important.  Tiny details matter.  So today, we’re going to scrutinize the most minute details of decrease bind offs.

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In reading the bind off chapter of my new, used copy of Principles of Knitting, I discovered the heading of ‘Decrease Bind Offs’.  Duh…makes complete sense, if there’s a K2Tog tbl bind off, why wouldn’t there be an SSK bind off.  Brilliant!  I love it!

And, much to my surprise, the SSK bind off is praised for being superior to the ‘other’ decrease bind off.  The K2Tog tbl is really just a footnote to explain why you probably don’t want to use it.  It’s the tbl, through back loop, that kills it.   Working the stitches through the back loop twists them.  June Hemmons Hiatt asserts that maybe you want that, if your fabric incorporates twisted stitches but probably not.  You want the SSK bind off.

The SSK bind off is entirely new to me, so I’ve got four possibilities to examine today… textbook versions and modified versions of SSK and K2Tog.


K2Tog Bind Offs

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Right: K2Tog tbl, textbook execution

Left: Modified K2Tog.  I’m a lazy knitter, that’s the origin of this mod.  You should be twisting your stitch when you put it back on the left needle.  That gives you the proper orientation to knit through the back loop.  I don’t bother, it seems like an extra step to me.  I just throw the stitch back on the left needle, path of least resistance means I’m actually putting my front loop to the back.  When I knit through the back for the next stitch, I’m actually knitting through the front of the first stitch and the back of the second stitch.  The result…I don’t introduce the same twist into my bind off.

If you look closely, you’ll see, the bind off on the right hand side is twisted. Looking at the base of the V, you see the bottom leg of the V slips under the top leg.  That’s the twist.

Now look at the base of the Vs on the left side.  Those legs rest side by side, no twist.  In this case, it’s a lazy knitter win!

I’ve never liked the traditional K2Tog tbl.  I much prefer ignoring the tbl.  Not only do I prefer the modified execution and aesthetics but it’s not dense the way the classic K2Tog tbl bind off is.  Don’t get too attached to this method though.  Remember it’s the footnote.


SSK Bind Offs

Why would I want to modify a bind off I’ve never even heard of before?  Because it’s an SSK and that should be synonymous with modification by now.  If you aren’t familiar with the SSK modification, I highly suggest you give it a try!  You create a neater, flatter stitch by slipping the first stitch knitwise (standard) and then slipping the second stitch purlwise (the modification).

Naturally, as soon as I learned the SSK Bind Off was a thing, I wonder if the modification applied here as well.

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Left:  Standard SSK bind off.  Knit the first stitch, slip the next stitch knitwise, knit the two stitches on the right hand needle together, slip the next stitch knitwise, knit the two stitches on the right hand needle together, etc, etc.

Right:  Modified SSK bind off.  Knit the first stitch, slip the next stitch purlwise, knit the two stitches on the right hand needle together, slip the next stitch purlwise, knit the two stitches on the right hand needle together, etc, etc.

They’re about the same for me.  I don’t think I have a preference one way or the other.  I did find the SSK superior to the K2Tog though.


K2Tog vs SSK Bind Off

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Left:  textbook K2Tog tbl bind off

Right:  textbook SSK bind off

Without a doubt, I prefer the SSK bind off.  It looks nice.  I like the balance of it.  It’s a minor detail but that twist in the K2Tog bind off skews the bind off to one side.  I like the execution of the SSK better as well.  The back and forth nature of the K2Tog makes it a bit clunky.  With the SSK stitches move to the right and stay there, it develops a lovely rhythm.

I’ll definitely be considering the SSK bind off in the future!


If you made it this far, pat yourself on the back!  It’s a lot of technical jargon.  I tried to warn you.  If you’re sick of this nonsense, never fear.  I got another book at the used book sale.

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Tomorrow’s agenda is all flowers!!

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A Bind Off Study

Over the weekend, I finished my latest Hitchhiker Scarf.  As the bind off row approached, I was absolutely, 100%, without a doubt certain I would lose this round of yarn chicken.

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There’s just no way that is enough yarn.  I’ve done this enough times that I’m comfortable giving it the eyeball and I’m usually right.  I did what I normally do, ignored all evidence and moved forward.   I knew it was going to end poorly.  I don’t know why I moved forward.  I just did.

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and it worked out okay!?!  I’m still shocked over how much yarn I had left.  It just does not compute!

I used the Icelandic Bind Off here.  It continues to be my Bind Off Of The Year (Or BOOTY for short!)  It got me thinking about bind offs in terms of yardage.  Obviously, if I had used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, I would have used more yarn but I’ve sworn off JSSBO.  I don’t typically need a bind off to stretch, I just don’t want it to be tight.  For me, JSSBO is overkill most of the time.

As I seriously scrutinized this minute detail, it was a good time to pull out my newly acquired copy of Principles of Knitting.  I found it for $3 at a used book sale!  I was pretty stoked, it was the one book I was looking for!  Yippee!

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Turns out, it says nothing about the relative yardages of different bind offs and it doesn’t even mention the bind offs I use most.  (Now I’m wondering what the updated edition says…so much for this reference book answering questions!  LOL!)

With no help there, I decided to simply collect my own data.  I grabbed the nearest yarn & needles.  Worsted weight on a size 4.  I cast on what seemed like a decent amount of stitches, turned out to be 32.  I knit a few rows and then I bound off.  I marked the beginning and end of the bind off, ripped it out and measured.  I repeated this 5 times for each bind off.

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I started with the basic PSSO bind off, that would be the standard by which all others are judged.  I had certain expectations.  Turns out, they were wrong.  Theories are lovely but until they are reduced to practice, they’re only theories!  (apparently my inner scientist really wants to go back to work!)

In addition to the PSSO standard, I also tested the Icelandic Bind Off, the K2Tog tbl Bind Off and the (new to me) SSK Bind off.  I wanted to include JSSBO but I got sick of the experiment before then (and obviously, you’re adding a yarn over between each stitch so, it must use more yardage.  This may, in fact, be the most flawed part of the experiment but we’ll never know.)

I expected the K2Tog tbl and SKK to be the same.  I thought the Icelandic Bind Off would be the biggest yarn hog and the PSSO method would be the most conservative.

The Results:  They’re all exactly the same.  D’oh.  The PSSO Bind Off actually had the highest average, but the differences were insignificant across the board.

And so, when faced with a daunting round of yarn chicken, my go-to bind offs are pretty much identical.  Now I know…knowledge is power!

I feel like sewn bind offs are the next step.   I’m not a fan but It seems like they can accomplish a nice edge with less yardage??  Maybe I’ll suck it up and do a few swatches.  Any excuse to crack open my new Principles of Knitting!

 

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The Freddy Problem

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Turns out the Freddy problem isn’t much of a problem at all.  Thanks to everyone who had sizing suggestions last week!  I read all the links, measured carefully and promptly decided to ignore what appeared to be facts.

My armhole depth was theoretically, long enough.  I ripped back and added a few more rows anyhow.  I think the appearance was throwing me because it’s a bit wider than the standard garment.  That was by choice.  I hadn’t thought of the downstream effects though.  Now the sleeves are going to look a bit skinny, in comparison.  Oh well.

It think it’s all good.  It still looks like a sweater.  It’s not as though I’ve added a third sleeve or a second neckline.  So…I press forward!  It’s gonna be so cute!

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Heisenberg FO

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I’m an organic chemist by training.  I spent 15 years in the lab doing research.  There’s an old saying about the motivation of people who go into chemistry, you’re either a drug chemist or a bomb chemist.

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Unless you’re Walter White, then you’re BOTH!  Don’t mess with him.  He means business and he’s not afraid to use science.

Yes, this is Heisenberg AKA Walter White from Breaking Bad.  I adored that show from the get go.  I’ve always wanted to knit some of Jesse Pinkman’s beanies but they’re standard store bought fare.  They aren’t jumping to the top of my list anytime soon.

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So, when I saw the Heisenberg Cup Cozy pattern, I knew that chart needed to be on a hat.  I had to use the acid green Tosh Merino in my stash.  It fit perfectly!  I don’t wear hats often but I think I’ll be making an exception with this one!  I love it!

 

 

 

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Armhole Depth

I picked up the Freddy Krueger sweater again.  It’s a very basic raglan shaped, stockinette stitch sweater.  I’m not following a pattern, just making it up as I go.  It should be a no brainer.  Naturally, this means I’m over-thinking it.  Or am I?

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It looks okay at first glance.  Upon closer inspection though, I think the armholes need to be deeper?

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I know for myself, a 9″ raglan line gives me a comfortable armhole depth.  I, also, know, that given my gauge, I typically have to work a few rows even before I divide for the sleeves, when working from a pattern.  I’m wondering if I should have done the same thing here.

I have no idea what the proper measurements should be for children’s sizes though?  This particular measurement doesn’t appear in many patterns.  I tried to do some research.  I found one pattern with a schematic that went as far as indicating the measurement, labeling it with an abbreviation for easy reference and then failed to give any actual measurements??  Seriously? Why do all that work and not follow through?

Anyone have suggestions?  I’d love some sort of size chart to refer to but a quick eyeball from toddler parents is just as good.  I’m aiming to fit a 2 year old.  I think that armhole is too short.  I think I need to rip back and add at least an inch before the sleeve divide.  I don’t think I can mess it up by making it larger.  I wouldn’t want a baggy armpit on an adult sweater but given the mechanics of dressing a child, a bit extra is even a good thing.

What do you say, knitting blog hive mind?  Are we in agreement?  I’d rather rip back and get it right than have a cute sweater that doesn’t fit.  :)

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Know Your Audience

I’m betting a San Francisco craft fair crowd will be heavily nerd.  These latest hats were created for them, or rather, their children! These are baby sized hats because who doesn’t love a nerdy baby?


I tried to go with something more classic…an elephant or a heart.  I couldn’t do it. I needed more personality.

The Space Invaders have been in the queue for a long time.  There are definitely more of them to come!