Not all bind offs are alike!
All good things must come to an end in knitting. What I mean is that at some point you will have to bind off your knitting to finish your garment/object. If you are new to knitting you may be under the impression that there is only one way to do this! For a long time, that’s what I thought, until I needed something different.
The standard bind off is easy, knit 2 stitches, pass first knitted stitch over the second. Knit one more stitch and pass the first stitch over it. Keep going until you run out of stitches!
This works, but what if you find that this produces a row so tight that you can’t get your hat/sock/sweater over your body?!! That was the first time I looked for something different. For this problem you can always try binding off with a larger size needle, but that may not be enough especially for some wraps/shawls. That’s when I discovered Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off. It’s amazing how much stretchier this bind off is.
Here is how it is done: Knit first stitch, do a backwards yarn over, (that means bring yarn from back to front over the needle), then knit one stitch. You know have what looks like 3 stitches on your right hand needle. Take the first and second stitch( the yarn over) and bring it over the last stitch you knit. Repeat starting with the yarn over and voila!, a stretchy bind off is done.
Once you start looking at different bind-offs you will be surprised at how many there are.
Another popular one is the tubular or invisible ribbed bind-off. This one is good for 1X1 ribbinh. You can always bind off ribbing in pattern, that means alternating knits and purls according to your ribbing as you bind off in the standard way. But for a truly invisible bind off you may want to try a tapestry needle! Sounds like a lot of work, but for some garments it may be worth the effort.
Here is how it is done: Working from right to left, insert the tapestry needle purlwise through the first knit stitch, pull the yarn through and bring the tapestry needle behind the knit stitch and insert it knitwise into the purl stitch. All stitches remain on the needle until you take a second pass. Use the tapestry needle to pull the yarn knitwise through the first stitch and pull it off the needle. Then pull the yarn purlwise through the second stitch and take it off the needle.
For pictures of this method, I recommend this link to the Shibui website.
The best book I am aware of to delve deeper into cast ons and bind offs is a book by that name by Leslie Ann Bestor. It is probably one of the most useful books in my library.