Interpreting Knitting Instructions: Binding Off in the Middle of a Row

In the last post, I mentioned that Knitwear Design Workshop by Shirley Paden is my guide to my latest sweater knitting adventure.

I calculated all the bind-off and decreases for the armholes, neck, and shoulder. At the beginning of the neck shaping, the usual instruction would be:

With RS facing, work 34 stitches in pattern, BO 24 stitches, work remaining 34 stitches in pattern. 68 stitches remain.

diagram of sweater front

Sweater Front Schematic

For this bind off, I’m using the standard bind off:

Step 1 Knit 1 stitch. Name this stitch A.
Step 2 Knit 1 stitch. Name this stitch B.
Step 3 Insert the left needle into stitch A on the right needle.
Step 4 Pull stitch A over stitch B. Stitch A will drop off the needle and stitch B will remain on the right needle.
Step 5 Knit another stitch and repeat Steps 3 and 4.
Continue until desired number of stitches is bound off.

So once the first 34 stitches are knit, when does the binding off start? This may be obvious, but perhaps not if you’ve never done a bind off in the middle of a row before. Here might be a logical choice to a new knitter.

Because the 35th stitch is to be bound off, start the bind off with stitch 35.

How would this work out? Using the bind off instructions above, this would be executed as:

Knit stitch 35, and then pull stitch 34 over stitch 35 and drop stitch 34 off the needle.

Note that stitch 34 went away (it was dropped off the needle.)

Now suppose that the 24 stitches are bound off and the remaining stitches are worked in pattern. If the stitches that are still on the needle are counted, there would be 33 stitches on one side of the bind off and 35 stitches on the other side. Sixty-eight stitches remain, but because these stitches are the pieces that go up on either side of the neck, the stitch numbers should be the same (i.e. 34 stitches on each side.)

To perform the instruction above correctly, 34 stitches would be knit, and then the process of binding off would start with stitches 35 and 36. (i.e. Knit stitch 35, knit stitch 36, pass stitch 35 over stitch 36 and drop stitch 35 off the needle.)

So how’s the sweater coming along? Well, the front and half of the back are now complete. Here’s the top of the sweater front (as shown in the diagram above) in its unblocked glory. The lace ribbing is very stretchy and blocks out nicely.

picture of sweater front

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