What follows is an insultingly basic photo tutorial on a technique so simple I learned it from a casual 3-line instruction on another blog. But maybe, just maybe, you don't know it yet, in which case I offer it up humbly. Yeah, like I ever do anything humbly.
The sewn bind-off is a good one to use when you want the bound-off edge to match the cast-on edge both in look and, more importantly, in tension. A usual bind-off is rather tighter than the cast-on, something that can spoil the drape of a scarf knitted lengthwise.
This became important to me a couple days ago when I finished a lengthwise-knitted scarf for Norma's Red Scarf Project. I sort of noticed (meaning, I noticed but ignored) that the bound-off edge was tighter than the beginning row; I rationalized I could compensate by binding off more loosely than usual. Yeah, right, that always works.
So I was happily binding off and reading blogs on Friday night when I came upon this:
A standard "chain" cast off does not match the cast on, and on a long edge, the disparity becomes striking. Try the sewn garter stitch cast off from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac.
My heart sank. Oh, crap, that's what I should be doing. Every time I held the scarf up to see how the two edges compared it was obvious that my *strategy* wasn't working quite as well as one might have wished. The problem came in the fact that I had already bound off sixty-eight inches of a seventy-two-inch scarf. Roughly two hundred fifty stitches out of two hundred seventy. Was I going to frog that edge and do it right? Hmmmm. Let me think about that one for a minute...
I spent the next eighteen hours with my metaphorical fingers in my metaphorical ears going, La la la, I can't hear you! But eventually good sense prevailed. I frogged and did it right.
If this post can save someone else the [admittedly minor, in the greater scheme of things] trauma of frogging nearly six feet of bound-off alpaca, it will be worth it.
The sewn cast-off.
Begin with yarn at the right side. Break yarn, thread through needle.
*Thread needle through first two stitches as if to purl. Thread needle back through the first stitch as if to knit. Drop off first stitch*
Repeat between the * until you've cast off all the stitches. This has a similar tension and look to a cast on; use it where you want the cast off edge to match the cast on.
Now, the insultingly obvious part wherein I show off my mad photography skillz. And manicure. Don't forget the manicure*.
Thread needle through first two stitches as if to purl:
Pull the yarn through. I told you this was insultingly basic.
Yup, that yarn is pulled through the stitches all right.
Thread the needle back through the first stitch as if to knit:
Pull the yarn through. Omigod, is it through yet? Yes. Whew.
Drop that stitch off the needle.
Pull the yarn through the dropped stitch. Um... yup, she's dropped all right.
Yeah, they still don't look precisely identical, but trust me, they resemble each other a lot more closely than the original bind-off and cast-on edges.
Tomorrow, the finished scarf and its two red scarfy pals. And a lesson in boiling water, should you be interested.
* A few words on the manicure: I have the world's softest, weakest fingernails. I have never in my nearly six decades on the planet been able to grow my nails longer than a millimeter or two. Hardening nail polish (Sally Hansen!), gelatin capsules (daily!), healthy hoof cream (seriously!) -- nothing worked well enough to produce the lovely long nails I envisioned on my short little fingers.
I wore acrylic nails for a few years in the eighties and silk wraps on and off for the past three. Never the dragon lady style, just reasonable length almond-shaped nails. Loved the look, hated the upkeep, not to mention the health risks -- volatile harsh chemicals, the possibility of nail fungus or infection or the nail separating from the nail bed.
Three weeks ago I was reading before bed and noticed that the current silk wrapped nails really, really, really needed maintenance. To motivate myself to perform this Truly Arduous Task (mañana! always mañana!) I picked off the silk and nail polish whilst I read.
The next day I procrastinated as usual until I had to go somewhere. In an effort to make myself more presentable I slapped a couple coats of Sally Hansen on my (temporarily) naked nails. By a fortuitous something-or-other, my nails happened to have been equally long under the silk, not just one or two long ones and the rest extended with tips.
The oddest thing happened.
I continued to procrastinate on the re-silk-wrapping thing and kept slapping on the Sally Hansen.
And my nails stayed long.
Wait, let me repeat that. And my nails stayed long.
No chipping, no peeling, no breaking. It has been three weeks now and I'm starting to get used to these nails. I admire them roughly eleventybillion times/day. Woot! I am Wendy! The other night, just for fun, I painted the tips white instead of my usual and conventional all-over coat of beige/pink/taupe/reddish polish. Double woot! I Am Fashionable!
Apparently a new moon in the midst of the Neptune/Sun opposition (scroll down to the Leo: August 2007 section, the paragraph that begins, "August 12th") makes my nails stronger. Who knew?