When ready to bind off my first toe-up knee sock, I nearly didn’t.

The knitting instructions for my socks said to “bind off loosely.”  With other projects, I’d been able to bind off loosely using one or two tried-and-true methods. A sock was different.

No matter which method I tried, it just didn’t stretch enough to get it on around my heel, let alone over my calf.  I searched all my knitting instruction books without help.  None of them have toe-up sock, top-down hat or finger-down mitten knitting instructions.

In reviewing this, it seems to be a fairly common dilemma.  Socks need to be snug enough on the calf to not fall down, and the usual loose bind-offs, often aren’t elastic enough.

So, just how do you bind off loosely?

  1. Knit more loosely as you bind off either by adjusting the tension or by substituting a larger needle for the right-hand needle. Neither gave enough stretch for socks.
  2. Use a sewed bind-off, such as Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Sewn Casting-off  from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac.   While she suggested using it for top down sweaters, again it just wasn’t quite elastic enough.
  3. Knit with an elastic bind off method.  An Internet search led to Slip Slip Knit’s Miraculous Elastic Bind Off Knitting Instructions. And voila, it worked!  The link even includes nice pictures.

This bind-off has now become one of my favorites. And I can hardly wait to try it on other projects.

Sprucey Lucy Knee High Socks

Sprucey Lucy Knee High Socks

These socks were made with Wendy Knits’ Sprucey Lucy free knitting pattern.

For a great inexpensive reference for knitting, check out Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac. It’s full of projects for every month of the year, and manages to be both charming and informative.



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