Now you’ve learned how to cast on knitting, mastered the knit stitch and made some knitted fabric beginner-friendly garter stitch it’s time to finish off your piece of knitting to give a neat edge. This is called casting off, the opposite of casting on. Some patterns will call it ‘binding off’ instead – these are usually US ones. When you come to the end of your knitted item, it’s important to cast off properly, to make sure all the knitted loops you’ve worked don’t unravel.
There are lots of different ways to cast off, but the first one we are showcasing in this How to cast off knitting guide is the simplest cast-off technique and the one that you’ll use most. To learn how to cast off knitting, you’ll first need to cast on some stitches onto your left needle – about 22 stitches is a good number to practise with, using double knitting (DK) yarn and a pair of 4mm needles. Then just knit a couple of rows in garter stitch before casting off all the stitches.Remember to try not to hold your needles too tightly or to pull the stitches too tightly as you go. If the cast-off is too tight, it will bunch up and won’t lie flat. Don’t worry if your casting off looks uneven – just try again. Undo your work, cast on some more stitches, and give it another go!
For this beginner How to cast off knitting technique, our YouTube video tutorial is below, as who who does not love these, seeing a technique in action, especially when you are a beginner. Take a look at our How to cast off knitting YouTube video below. Or if you like written and photographic walkthroughs, check out our How to cast of knitting:step-by-step guide. Next, why not discover more knitting techniques with our complete guide to knitting for beginners?
If you are looking for more advanced techniques for how to cast of your knitting, we are also including walkthroughs for How to cast of knitting:three-needle cast off; How to cast of knitting:sewn cast off; How to cast of knitting: suspended cast off and How to cast of knitting:picot cast off. Just scroll through the different sections off the How to cast of knitting article to discover them, or use the jump links below to jumps straight the How to cast off knitting technique walkthrough you are after.
- How to cast of knitting:sewn cast off
- How to cast of knitting:three-needle cast off
- How to cast of knitting:picot cast off C
- How to cast of knitting:Suspended cast off C
How to cast of knitting: Youtube video
How to cast off knitting for beginners: step-by-step guide
You Will Need
- Knitting needles
Knit the first two stitches
Start by knitting the first two stitches of the row as normal, but don’t go any further along as you usually would.
Lift the first stitch over
Insert the left-hand needle through the first stitch on the right-hand needle, as shown. Lift this stitch over the other stitch on the right-hand needle and off the needle point.
Knit the next stitch and repeat
Knit another stitch so you have two on the right needle again. Use the left needle to lift the first stitch over the second stitch, as shown in step 2. Repeat this process all the way to the end of the row.
Cut the yarn and pull through
When you only have one stitch left on the right-hand needle, cut the yarn about 15cm away. Feed it through the last stitch and pull through firmly to fasten off.
This cast-off was originated by knitting legend Elizabeth Zimmermann. Break the yarn, leaving a tail at least three times the width of the stitches you’re casting off, thread it onto a tapestry needle and pass purlwise through the first two stitches.
After pulling the yarn all the way through the first two stitches, use your needle to pass it back knitwise through the front stitch only, taking this stitch off your needle as you do so.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 across the whole row. For the best finish, pull the yarn through fairly tightly. This is a neat and stretchy cast-off, but it is slow to work, so be patient!
Using a picot cast off when you cast off knitting give a pretty decorative edge to your projects.
Knit the first two stitches as you would with a standard knitted cast-off, and pass the first stitch over the second as normal.
Place the remaining stitch back onto your left-hand needle, being careful not to twist it.
Use the cable cast-on method to cast on three stitches. This method does use more yarn than normal, due to the extra stitches you are making for each picot point.
Now cast off five stitches, using the standard knitted cast-off. This will give you your first picot point. Repeat steps 2 to 4 until your last stitch, which you fasten off as normal.
As you progress you’ll get into a rhythm of casting on and casting off, making this method quicker than you’d expect. You can vary it too, by casting on and off different numbers of stitches – just swatch first!
With ‘live’ stitches on two needles, hold your two pieces of finished work with right sides together, both needle tips pointing right.
With a third needle (hence the name), knit the first two stitches together (one from each needle) and slip them onto your right-hand needle.
Make sure that you don’t knit these stitches together too tightly. The three- needle cast-off gives a very firm finish, but if you start knitting tightly it will pull in and your shoulders will end up looking bunched.
Knit the second pair of stitches together in the same way. You should now have two stitches on your right-hand needle.
Just as with a standard cast-off, pass the first stitch over the second and slip it off the right-hand needle. Ensure you don’t pull up the remaining stitch on the right-hand needle tightly – keep it loose for an even finish.
Repeat steps 1 to 4 until you have worked all your stitches and only one remains on your right-hand needle. Break your yarn and fasten off the remaining stitch. Now flip over your work and admire your neat join!
Knit the first two stitches, one at a time, onto your right-hand needle, using a normal amount of tension.
Use your left-hand needle to pass the first stitch on the needle over the second stitch, but don’t drop it! Leave it on the left-hand needle for the next step.
This bit is slightly fiddly – use the right- hand needle to knit into the front of the next stitch on the left-hand needle. (Ignore the one you’ve just put back onto it).
Pull the yarn through just as if you were knitting a stitch normally. You will now have two stitches on your right-hand needle again.
Repeat steps 2 to 4 and you will end up with a cast-off edge which looks just like that achieved with a standard knitted cast-off, but with far more stretch in it.
If you are looking for more ways to expand you knitting skills, skill up your blocking with our guide showing how to block your knitting to make it look its best, or treat yourself to a new knitting treat with our pick of the best knitting kits.
Knitting patterns for beginners
Ready to cast on your first project? We have lots of free beginner knitting patterns for you to choose from!