knitting, techniques

“Long Tail” Bind Off

Ack, my internet connection went down for a couple of days. After the cable company tech said there was nothing more he could do for me to correct the problem and that I will have to take my computer in to be checked, my husband was able to get it back online. The mysteries of computers … . Oh, and aren’t husbands great?!

As promised, I’ll detail how I make a bind off look just like a long tail cast on. I examined my cast on edge carefully and picked it apart. This is what I came up with. At the time I hadn’t come across this bind off in some of the current basic reference books. I suppose you could say that I “unvented” it because since then, I’ve found it in June Hemmons Hiatt’s The Principles of Knitting: Methods and Techniques of Hand Knitting
(sadly out of print) and Montse Stanley’s Knitter’s Handbook : A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles and Techniques of Handknitting which are both excellent resources to have in your library.

I’m using contrasting coloured yarns for the purpose of illustration.

longtail BO 1

Start by cutting your working yarn and leaving a long tail—about 3 ½  to 4 times longer than the width of the knitting. Thread it onto a blunt-tipped tapestry needle.

long tail BO 2

Insert the tapestry needle into the second stitch on your left-hand knitting needle as if to knit and pull the yarn through.

long tail BO 3

Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch as if to purl and pull the yarn through. Drop the first stitch off the knitting needle. Take care not to pull too tightly—this is how you control the tension of your bound-off edge.

long tail BO 4 long tail BO 5

Repeat the last two steps until you’ve bound off all your stitches.


These two photos compare both the cast-on and bound-off edges on both sides of the work. They look the same. (Click any photos to enlarge.)

Tangled sleeves

The sleeve for my cardigan is now finished, using this bind off method. Can you tell which sleeve has the cast on  edge and which has the bind off edge? I would consider the surgery and unqualified success!

4 thoughts on ““Long Tail” Bind Off”

  1. I was a little confused by this one. When you say, “Pull the yarn through,” do you mean:
    1. Pull it forward like a knitting stitch, a loop? or
    2. Pull it through like sewing, where the needle passes from one side of the fabric to the other, pulling the rest of the yarn behind it?

    I think it must be the second one, but it might be helpful to others (non-pros, like me) to add a word or two to clear that up. Thanks so much! I love long-tail cast-on, and this will be a great matching finish.

    1. Good question. It’s option #2. Pull the whole length of the yarn through the stitch as if you’re sewing. You don’t want to end up with a loop like a knitted stitch.

  2. I am SO glad I came across your site this is exactly what I was looking for to finish the baby blanket I am working on… Thank you very much and I will be bookmarking your site to catch up on any other knitting tips you have 🙂

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