Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn CrawlΒ is on through Sunday, September 25.

Conflict, Conflict

Dear Kay,
Motoring away on this Diminishing Rib Cardigan. I still have concerns about the way the neckline is going to behave, but I’m so far GONE that I can’t stop. See?
Foldy, curly. This is going to be a mighty challenge to my blocking skills. It’ll work out, one way or another. Staples and hot glue remain options.
Working this yarn, made from the wool of a Pennsylvania sheep named Padmae along with some mohair from an unnamed goat, is like having Padmae in the room with me, and I mean that in a positive way. I like sheep! Padmae is shedding all over the place. Padmae is leaving little bits of “vegetable matter” on my furniture. And I continue to be totally confounded about the color of this stuff–my last photos made the yarn look a lot browner than it appears to my eye.
This looks fundamentally gray to me. Maybe there’s something wrong with my eye???
When I arrived at the bottom edge of the Big Part of this sweater, I was instructed to do a tubular bind off. I’ve never done one before, and it seemed like a thrilling and fun thing to do. The Interweave Knits instructions seemed too abbreviated for me; I wanted a luxurious, full-out wallow in the process of working this bind-off. I followed Techknitter’s brilliant how-to. (Techknitter, you should get a Pulitzer AND a Nobel Peace Prize for the instruction you have so generously provided to the universe.)
The basic idea with a tubular bind-off is to create an edge that extends a rib pattern to a stretchy, elegant conclusion. In fact, it’s like working a giant Kitchener sock toe, all the way across the bottom. I have no fear of Kitchener, and I thought it would be jolly fun to work such an epic sock toe.
I did as I was told and divided the stitches onto two needles to prepare to Kitchener:
I threaded up a tapestry needle with a length of yarn four times as long as the edge of the sweater. And it was right then that I decided that a tubular bind-off–pulling 12 feet of yarn through every single stitch of the Kitchener grafting route–was going to drive me nuts, totally nuts. The length of yarn was an instant, constant mess.
So I diverted into the stretchy bind-off that we seem to like a lot these days: *k2 tog, place the new stitch back on the left needle, repeat from * until you run out of stitches.
It works well enough, but in my late-night frenzy to finish the Big Part I forgot that I had worked two rows of k1, p1 rib to set up the tubular cast-off that I ended up not using. So it looks sort of odd down there.
What do you all think? Should I rip back the cast-off and those two k1, p1 rows and redo the edge so that the last rows are in the correct 3 x 1 rib pattern? I think I would like it better that way. I feel sort of bad about ditching the tubular bind-off, but not as bad as I did while yanking that yarn through that doomed Kitchener stitch. Other bind-off suggestions are welcome!
Twist Is UP
If you haven’t had a chance to see the new issue of Twist Collective, get over there immediately. The wraps and shawls had me doing some serious stash evaluation this weekend, looking for laceweights. Susanna IC’s Abrazo is a snack-sized sort of wrap, and Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark’s Lena uses one of those hypnotically simple lace patterns that I adore.
And don’t miss the piece about Susette Newberry’s incredible knitted alphabet project. I’ve been following it online at her blog, Knitted Letters: A to Z, but Lela Nargi’s piece is well done, an excerpt from her forthcoming book, The Greatest Knitting of All Time.




  1. I think you should rip out those two rows and redo the bindoff. It looks like it flares out the way it is now.

  2. If you’re not happy with it, you should rip and redo. Otherwise, it’ll be like the Telltale Heart of ribbing, and I can’t imagine your family or anyone else really wants to see you take that particular road to Crazytown.

  3. As you’re asking…and as I’m a bit of a procrastinator…I would leave your cardi for a couple of days and then go back to it with fresh eyes. I’m not a technical person so can’t advise on the bind-off. In fact, I’m off to techknitter as it sounds like a place I need to visit. Love the blog (and your books).

  4. Unlike the previous pix, these pictures show the sweater as gray– definitely gray. Speaking of “definitely”, you should definitely redo the bindoff edge if it will bother YOU. It looks pretty neat to me, and it suits the sweater’s theme of shifting rib patterns, but if you don’t like it, out it goes.

  5. Will you document your blocking process? I feel like I block wrong. πŸ™

  6. The edge doesn’t look bad in the picture, but if you know it will drive you crazy, frog it!
    My favorite stretch bind off is knit 1, put stitch back on left needle, knit the second stitch on left needle through the first stitch. I don’t have an illustration or demo, but I got it from a shawl book (Three Cornered & Long Shawls?). If I keep my tension right, it’s a very stretchy bind off. I’m not sure if you could do it alternating knit/purl for the ribbing? Good luck.

  7. I think it looks OK as is, but I still think you should rip and redo. It will bother you forever if you don’t.

  8. You could still do the tubular bind off. Just use shorter lengths of yarn (as you should with any long graft) and hide the ends in the tubular bind off when you are done.

  9. I think I would die before I ripped out that hem, but that’s me! if it bothers you, that’s a different thing. On the other hand, if you manage to conquer the foldy bendy top okay, who will notice the hem, says I? draw attention to your face, and that will save the day…

  10. If you don’t fix it you will never wear it. I am currently enamored with Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretch Bind-off, which is meant for toe-up socks, but would work here because it hinges along with the ribbing. And it’s dead easy.

  11. this is the other bestest thing i love about your blog….the first being – natch – how wacko you can be….and now, a stimulating techy discussion.
    first – i learned two new bind offs with todays’ post – never knew about stretchy bind offs before, and will definitely try them – thanks for that.
    then i’d vote for doing it as the pattern suggests, at least the first time i knit it. for moi, it’s like preparing a new recipe – i follow it exactly as written the first time, and then tweak after that if i deem it appropriate. kinda like paying homage to its creator’s intent?
    lastly, to me, 12 yards does not a skein make. suck it up! (meant nicely)

  12. If you can frog the last 2 rows AND pick up all the stitches, then I’d say do it and re-do the hem with your stretchy bind off. That yarn, with that mohair, lovely as it seems, looks like it might be difficult to frog and re-do. Good luck!

  13. I’m with Paula–do the tubular bind off with shorter pieces, but I would spit-slice (or Russian join)the pieces together –no ends to weave in and less likelihood of a Kitchener “mishap” with something slipping.

  14. I would go back and do the tubular bind off. Spit splice shorter lengths of Padmae together as needed.

  15. I agree with your comment about TechKnitter! Her web site is brilliant and I think that all of that info would make a fabulous book.
    I also vote for the tubular bind off with spit splicing of the shorter pieces. I’m sure that Padmae would spit splice like a dream.

  16. I also vote to do the tubular bind off with shorter more manageable sewing lengths. I would try spit splicing to attach the new length but if that doesn’t work well with the sewing, just hide the ends in the tube. There will be less unraveling if you do the tubular bind off and you will be proud of yourself and therefore will love the bind off. So get to that huge Kitchenering toe.

  17. Maybe you could try an i-cord bind off instead which would look similar to the tubular bind off but would (to my mind) be simpler to execute. I-cord bind off would also look good around the collar… Any way you slice it, it’s gorgeous yarn – must be lovely to work with!

  18. Maybe you could try an i-cord bind off instead which would look similar to the tubular bind off but would (to my mind) be simpler to execute. I-cord bind off would also look good around the collar… Any way you slice it, it’s gorgeous yarn – must be lovely to work with!

  19. I LOVE the tubular bind off for socks (toe-up) and for Noro-type ribbed scarves and for necklines. It looks fabulous. But for a hem, it can flare a bit. Did you knit the last two rows on smaller needles? Like 2 sizes smaller? If not, you may end up with a bit of a ruffle. I would still do the bind-off – but while you’re ripping, go back a couple of rows and use the smaller needles.

  20. I’d say rip it, except that it has mohair in it which can make it not a lot of fun. Just saying. Oh and thanks for choosing my question for twist. I did finally figure out how to do nupps in the round. Check out the Snow Queen Shawl by BadCat Designs as this is the one I am working on. πŸ™‚ Love Susanna IC’s shawls in twist as well. Happy Knitting.

  21. I am totally full of green eyed envy over his cardigan – it is just gorgeous. Yes the edge flares a little now – but once you have worn it and it has stretched to fit your body, to be honest I doubt very much that anyone would notice. However, it does depend on how much of a perfectionist you are….will it bug you forever? I mean this cardigan you have just got to love wearing….if not please send it over to Switzerland and I will give it a good home!!!

  22. If you are not happy with the way the bind off looks, frog it. I knit a shawl once and did not like the bind off at all. Took it to my LYS and was shown a different, stretchy bind off. I tinked my original and used the alternative bind off and am very happy with the finished shawl. Warning–mohair does not like to be tinked or frogged. My yarn was Silk Rhapsody and it took me days to rip it out. Trick was to work on it for short periods of time to avoid total frustration. Love your sweater and think it looks great as is, but if your not happy with it, take the time to redo it. Your happiness with the finished product will be worth fighting (gently) with the mohair.

  23. I think there’s no more charming bind-off than the tubular one — but I’ve never done it in such fuzzy yarn — I’d take the advice of the short piece/splice brigade & try again.

  24. A Sheep called Padmae… Don’t know how familiar you are with Tibetan Buddhism, but “Padmae” is a Sanskrit word embedded in what is known as the sacred mantra of Tibet: “Om Mani Padmae Hum” Directly translated, it means “the jewel is in the lotus”. Of course that’s all symbolic. The “jewel” is the ‘jewel’ of consciousness (read: enlightenment) and the “lotus” (padmae) is compassion/openheartedness. Once you understand these clues, the deeper translation becomes “the path to enlightenment is through an open heart”. Lovely, don’t you think? No wonder it’s the sacred mantra of Tibet! So your beautiful sweater with wool provided by a sheep named “padme”. May you wear it in health and happiness – no matter the bind-off. May it inspire you to extend compassion to fellow travellers on Planet Earth. It’s looking beautiful. : ) Warmly, Maura from T.O.

  25. Yep, a small frogging is in your future — so you can be really happy. And I HEARTILY recommend Jeny’s Super Stretchy Bind Off as a very good alternative the the tubular. Since I learned it I have used it over and over and I love it! Here’s a url… http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall09/FEATjssbo.php

  26. Techknitter should get all those awards and more!
    I think the sweater looks fine as is. I can’t really see where the weirdness is that you speak of. So alls well in my eyes. πŸ™‚

  27. if ripping out will win you a pulitzer prize
    by all means do so

  28. Since you’re already a little concerned about the potentially rolly neck, I vote for ripping back the bottom two rows and re-doing the bind off. No project should produce anxiety from top AND bottom.

  29. The twist collective site has me in tears for excellent inspired knitting! I’ve been waiting to find a site with style!! Thanks for the link!

  30. Rip out those two rows, and then cast off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. It’s my new favorite – MUCH stretchier than any other I’ve found. Also heartily endorsed by Cat Bordhi, the head geek of all knitting techniques.
    Here’s a link: http://curiousknitter.blogspot.com/2009/09/jeny-surprisingly-stretchy-bind-off.html

  31. Take out the bind off – you know it will bug you the way it is now! – and then take a reasonable length of yarn and kitchener front and back together until you nearly run out of yarn, then *split splice on a new reasonable length of yarn, splicing the plies separately* and repeat until finished. Easy peasy, works fine with all non-superwash wool, and you will be thrilled by, instead of bugged by, the lower edge!

  32. Definitely rip out and redo. Do the tubular bindoff. Use 1/4 the yarn suggested. When you run out, take new strand. Repeat. When you are finished, a bit of duplicate stitch on the inside takes care of those extra ends.

  33. I actually think it looks fine because of the different ribbing further up, but I think you should let it sit a day or two to decide. If you won’t wear it, you should rip it–but I would probably decide to wear it. Nobody will know but all of us!!

  34. I would have to rip it out — but that’s just me. I would recommend Jenny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off. Cat Bordhi has an excellent video how-to and it’s a super easy thing to do. Works great if you want some stretch.

  35. Have you tried Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off from Cat Bordhi’s Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters? Ditto the above. It works great.

  36. I found I had to creatively rip out the original tubular cast-ON at the neck, pick the stitches back up, do a decrease (within the neckline ribbing– sounds funky but looks fine) at the top of each of the raglan decreases on the back, and then do the tubular cast-OFF to finish the neck. The tubular cast-off is easier to get tighter and neater than the cast-on. The decreases in the neckline ribbing pulled things in just enough to get rid of the floppiness. And then, blocking is magic. I love this sweater and wear it all the time!

  37. When I have to do a sewn-type bind off with a threaded yarn needle and an insanely long strand of yarn, I find it works well to simply double, triple, or quadruple the majority of the yarn (except a length right next to your knitting that will actually be worked into the stitches.) Once you double/whatever your strand of yarn you just thread it all through your yarn needle and work as usual, giving yourself more single thickness length as you go. I’ve done this on several large bind offs and it works well and decreases the crazy.

  38. It amazes me that you can just crank out these amazing sweaters! I’ve been working on the same sweater for 5 years!!!! One day . . .

  39. Concerning the curly neckline – have you considered working a few rows of crochet to stabilize it? 2 rows of sc – one facing the front and turn and do the second – then a row of reverse sc might just do the trick. Use a hook that is a little smaller than the knitting needles – this has worked for me in the past & crochet is a great compliment to any knitted garment! Just a thought!

  40. So, Lucy Neatby’s modified conventional bind-off is quite similar to your favorite and so fast to do. You never pull the needle from the stitch that you are placing back on the left hand needle – just knit right through the next stitch in one slick motion. I bet you are aware of it already; consider this a (very) friendly reminder.


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