How to work a three needle bind off

Learn how to work a 3-needle bind-off to add a hem to any top-down sweater. Specifically in Cocoknits Method patterns, this technique is used in Renee to create a drawstring casing. Instead of binding off as usual and sewing a hem or two pieces together, learn how to bind off two sets of stitches together to create a hemmed edge.

Instructions

Pick up Stitches

Pick up a row of stitches from a purl row with a skinny needle. Look for the U or smile purl stitch and pick that up (from the top or bottom). Then pick them each up across the entire purl row and treat them like live stitches.

Fold the Hem

Take the live stitches from the bottom of the garment and fold them up. The two needles with stitches on them should now be next to each other ready for binding off.

Work the 3-Needle Bind off (BO)

Use working needle for BO. You will essentially knit-2-together, but the 2 stitches are on the front and back needles, instead of next to each other on the same needle. Slip needle into stitch on front needle as if to knit, then slip needle into stitch on back needle as if to knit. Wrap yarn and pull through both stitches and take them both off the needles. (repeat)

When you have two stitches on your working needle (usually right needle), you slip the first stitch over the second. This is your first stitch bound off.

Exposed Hem vs. Hidden Hem

This tutorial video shows the hem exposed, with the seam on the front, as it is designed in the Cocoknits Method pattern Renee. If you would prefer the hem seam on the inside of the garment, then do the same exact thing except work it on the wrong side of your work. That will make the seam show on the back, creating a hidden hem. This can also be used for two sets of live stitches, rather than picking up stitches from a purl row.

How to work a three needle bind off

How to work a three needle bind off

Quite a few Kelbourne Woolens patterns utilize a 3-Needle Bind-Off – it is a wonderful way to work a secure, yet not-bulky shoulder seam or finish off a cowl knit horizontally. In contrast to the kitchener stitch, the bind-off row creates a stable seam, but it is not as bulky or prone to issues as a seamed edge. Below is a tutorial for you to reference when working this lovely finish!

Note: For this tutorial, we are utilizing three different colors so you can clearly see both sets of stitches and the bind off row. In your actual work, you most likely will be binding off matching pieces of fabric. If you end one piece working a right side row, you should be able to use the yarn attached to the work for your bind off. Additionally, it is necessary to have the same number of stitches on each piece in order to bind off evenly.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 1 / To work the 3-Needle Bind Off on the inside of the work, so it cannot be seen from the right-side, you will want to hold your pieces with right sides together with both needle points facing to the right. If you are familiar with sewing, this is the same concept if you were to sew a seam with right-sides of the fabric facing.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 2 / Using a spare double pointed needle of the same size, insert the double pointed needle into the first stitch on both needles as if to knit. You will be treating both pieces of fabric as if they are one.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 3 / Knit the stitches together as one, slide both stitches off of your left hand needle.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 4 / Knit the next stitch on each left hand needle together as one. Slide both stitches off of your left hand needle. You now have 2 stitches on the right hand needle. Two stitches have been worked off of each left hand needle, for a total of 4 stitches worked.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 5 / Pass the right stitch over the left stitch on the right hand needle as if you are working a traditional bind off. One stitch has been bound off.

How to work a three needle bind off

Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until all stitches have been bound off and you have one stitch remaining on your right hand needle.

How to work a three needle bind off

Fasten off the final stitch and weave in your ends.

How to work a three needle bind off

Even if a pattern does not call for a 3-Needle Bind-Off, 9 times out of 10, you can use this technique when joining two pieces of knit fabric together.

The three-needle bind off is another great way to join two pieces of fabric! And it’s easy to work too.

How to work a three needle bind off

Start with the 2 pieces of knitted fabric that you want to join.

A few things about them:

  • Both pieces should have the same number of stitches.
  • Neither piece should be bound off yet. Instead, both of them should be on a needle with their stitches live (like the below picture).
  • How to work a three needle bind off

Step 1: Face their Right Sides against each other (their Wrong Sides will be on the outside) and place them on top of each other.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 2: Insert a third needle knitwise into the first stitch of the front piece.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 3: Insert that same third needle knitwise into the first stitch of the back piece.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 4: Using the working yarn from the BACK piece*, wind the yarn around the third needle and knit both stitches.

How to work a three needle bind off

Just like in regular knitting, move those two stitches off of both left needles.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 5: Repeat Steps 2 through 4. There are now 2 stitches on the right needle.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 6: Just like in a regular bind off, working on the right needle, pass the stitch further on the right over the stitch to its left. One stitch bound off.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 7: Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until there is just one stitch remaining on the right needle and all stitches have been worked on both left needles.

How to work a three needle bind off

Step 8: Cut the working yarn and pull it through that final stitch. You’re done!

How to work a three needle bind off

How to work a three needle bind off

Here it is all done. If we used the same color yarn it would be barely visible.
How to work a three needle bind off

Here’s what it looks like on the WS.

How to work a three needle bind off

The 3 Needle Bind off stretches a bit but it does add some structure as well. And that structure means that it’s not as stretchy (and makes it a great candidate for shoulder seems).

How to work a three needle bind off

* Note: We used a contrasting yarn for the bind off just to make it easier for you to see it, but if we used the same yarn it would be barely visible.

How to work a three needle bind off

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Stay tuned for this knitting demonstration video. This three needle bind off technique produces a very neat, flexible shoulder seam – and, no sewing is required. Begin by moving the shoulder stitches from their stitch holders to appropriately sized needles.

I like to use double-point knitting needles for this, but it’s not necessary. If you are using regular straight knitting needles, just make sure that, when right sides are placed together, the knitting needles are pointing in the same direction. If you don’t have three needles of the same size, and your pattern is knit with size 8’s, you could hold the stitches on the 8’s and bind off with a 9. Since many knitters have a tendency to bind off too tightly, this will help with that problem as well.

Place the garment pieces right sides together. With a third needle, knit one stitch through the first stitch on both needles. Now repeat, knitting a second stitch through the second stitch on both needles. Pull the first stitch knit over the second stitch, as for a regular bind off, and continue across the row, until all stitches are bound off. You must work with the same number of stitches on each needle.

Hope this knitting instrucional video helps you with your binding off skills.

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Several months ago, we practiced the Reversible Chevron stitch, and in this tutorial, I’m sharing three new things:

On one hand, you’ll learn how to knit the Ribbed Chevron stitch, ideal for scarves, blankets, and rectangular shawls or wraps (both sides look almost identical, and it stays flat! Yay!).

On the other hand, you’ll see what to do to make both extremes of the garment look the same when knitting a stitch that creates picks (or a pointy edge). In other words, how to get symmetry in your Chevron stitches… yeap, it’s possible!

Last, but not least, you’ll learn how to bind off and seam two knitted pieces at the same time, without seaming. This technique is called “3 needles bind off”.

Before we start I’d like you to know that the Ribbed Chevron stitch forms an embossed arrow pattern, practically identical on both sides.

You’ll be delighted to hear that due to the frequent combination of knits and purls, the fabric stays flat… I know, I know, form an orderly queue please ?

However, please note that when you start knitting this stitch, you’ll see sharp picks at the bottom edge (which is totally normal due to the double central decrease).

Interestingly enough, when we finish and bind off, the other extreme (the upper edge) stays completely straight. There will be no picks. We’ll end up with two different edges.

So, what to do to make both extremes of the scarf/blanket look exactly the same?

No, we do not reach for the scissors!

If you want that both edges show the picks, then knit two separate pieces, and join them together later on.

For example: When knitting a scarf, split the length in two, and knit two pieces that have the same measurement (let’s say 31 in / 80 cm each). And don’t bind off; leave the stitches “live” in each part.

To join them, try the Grafting technique that we’ve done for the Spiral Hat (sewing up both sides using a tapestry or darning needle).

However, you can also use another technique (I explain it in the video tutorial), which consists of using a third needle of the same size, to connect them knitting, not sewing.

This way both extremes of the piece will look identical, and there will be a slight division in the middle.

Ok, it’s time to grab needles + yarn and let’s knit together ?

Abbreviations

RS: Right side of the work

m1R: “Make one right” or Right-leaning increase (take the bar between two stitches with the right-hand needle. Place it onto the left-hand needle from front to back, and knit that stitch through the back loop). We have created one new stitch.

cd: central decrease (slip 2 stitches knitwise at once, knit the next, and pass the slipped stitches over the last one).

P3tog: Purl three stitches together

How to work a three needle bind off

How to knit the Ribbed Chevron stitch

CO multiples of 20 + 1; i.e.: 20 * 2 = 40 + 1 = 41 st.

1º row (RS): *K1, m1R, [K2, P2] twice, cd, [P2, K2] twice, m1R*. Repeat from * to *, ending with K1.

2º and every even row: Work each st as it presents (knit the knits; purl the purls).

3º row: *K1, m1R, P1, K2, P2, K2, P1, p3tog, P1, K2, P2, K2, P1, m1R*. Repeat from * to *, ending with K1.

5º row: *K1, m1R, [P2, K2] twice, p3tog, [K2, P2] twice, m1R*. Repeat from * to *, ending with K1.

7º row: *K1, m1R, K1, P2, K2, P2, K1, cd, K1, P2, K2, P2, K1, m1R*. Repeat from * to *, ending with K1.

8º row: As per 2º row.

These 8 rows create the pattern. Repeat them until the desired length is reached. When finished, BO working each stitch as it presents, after a row 7 (this way the upper extreme will show straight).

On the contrary, if you want to get symmetry, do not bind off, and knit a second piece of the same length. To join them, please watch the video tutorial ?

This is the wrong side of the work:

How to work a three needle bind off

Finally, click here to watch the video tutorial

I hope you love it and don’t be afraid to share, if you think one of your friends might like this pattern?

A big hug and happy knitting!

Carolina – So Woolly

PS: If you like the way the fabric ends in point please have a look at the links below for another adorable lace pattern with interesting edges:

“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

The 3 needle bind off is a method of binding off and seaming at the same time. It is often used for shoulder seams, but can be used to bind off and seam any 2 pieces of fabric with live stitches.

Often times, when a pattern calls for binding off each piece separately and then sewing them together, I will substitute the 3 needle bind off.

I like this bind off because it accompishes 2 tasks in one step – very efficient! Besides, who likes seaming? And the seam produced by the 3 needle bind off is usually less bulky compared to binding off each piece separately and grafting or seaming them together.

What It Looks Like

Unlike the Kitchener stitch method of grafting, which produces an invisible seam, this method leaves a distinct seam. It looks like a mattress stitch seam on the right side but is less bulky on the wrong side.

How to work a three needle bind off3 Needle BO on the Right Side of the Fabric How to work a three needle bind off3 Needle BO on the Wrong Side of the Fabric

How to Do the 3 Needle Bind Off

As the name suggests, you need 3 needles to do this bind off. You will have the stitches from one piece of fabric on one needle, the stitches from the other piece of fabric on another needle, and a third empty needle to work wih (the working needle).

Watch this 3-minute video to learn how to do the 3 needle bind off. There are written instructions below the video.

The 3 needle bind off is very similar to a standard bind off, but you will:

  1. Hold the 2 needles with stitches parallel to each other in your left hand, with the working yarn on the back needle (you can do it with the working yarn on the front needle, but it’s easier if it’s on the back one)
  2. With the working needle in your right hand, insert it into the first stitch on one needle, then immediately into the first stitch on the 2nd needle, as if to knit.
  3. Knit those 2 stitches together
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 so that you have 2 stitches on your right needle
  5. Bind off as you would normally
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 until you have one stitch left on your working needle
  7. Cut the yarn and pull the tail through the last stitch

The garment used in this lesson is the Love Is in the Air sleeveless top, one of the many knit alongs in the Knit Along Club.

The Knit Along Club is designed for knitters like you who want to improve their skills. Each knit along includes online written and video tutorials to guide you through every step of the pattern. Click on the graphic below to learn more.

The three-needle bind-off is a great way to cast off live stitches, but it also joins two fabric pieces together.

If you’re looking for the answer to the question what is the three-needle cast-off method, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for my complete guide.

How to work a three needle bind off

Table Of Contents

  • How Do You Bind Off On Circular Needles?
  • What Is The 3 Needle Bind Off?
  • How To Do The 3 Needle Bind Off In Knitting
  • More Uses for the Three-Needle Bind Off
  • Your Questions Answered

How Do You Bind Off On Circular Needles?

Binding off on circular needles is pretty similar to binding off on straight needles. Read my complete guide on how to bind off on circular needles and straight needles here.

What Is The 3 Needle Bind Off?

People use this particular bind off method to join two pieces of knitted fabric, and you end up with two pieces seamed together. The three-needle bind-off creates a line of ‘Vs,’ similar to what the crochet chain stitch looks like.

Here’s an example where you could use the three-needle bind off.

You’ve knitted two swatches on straight needles, and you want to seam them together. You can use the three-needle bind-off to do that instead of sewing them together.

Three Needles Bind Off Garter Stitch (Knit Stitch)

Step #1.

Put the swatches right sides together so that the two needles with the swatches on them are right beside each other. Oh, and remember to get another straight needle. It’s not a three-needle bind-off with just two needles, is it!

Important note: Since this method of binding off results in a bit of a ridge, it’s best to hide it inside the work. You can put the wrong sides together, but the ridge shows on the right side once you have finished.

Remember: You need the same amount of stitches on both of the two needles.

Step #2. ‘Knit 2 Together’.

Right-handed: Insert the right needle into the first stitch on the needle closest to you, knitwise. Then go through the first stitch on the back needle, knitwise. Yarn over, pull through and take the stitch off of the left needle.

Left-handed: Insert the left needle into the first stitch on the needle closest to you, knitwise. Then go through the first stitch on the back needle, knitwise. Yarn over, pull through and take the stitch off of the right needle.

Then, do what you just did again, so that you have ‘knitted two together’ twice. You now have two stitches on your right needle. (left needle if you are left-handed).

Step #3. The bind off.

Right-handed: Take either one of the two needles in your left hand, and bind off one stitch on your right needle by bringing the second stitch over the stitch closest to the tip and off. Now there should be one stitch on your right needle.

Left-handed: Take either one of the two needles in your right hand, and bind off the stitches on your left needle by bringing the second stitch over the stitch closest to the tip and off. Now there should be one stitch on your left needle.

Step #4. Knit 2 Together. (Again).

Do another knit two together. You now have two stitches on your right needle again. (Left needle if you are left-handed).

Step #5. Do another bind off!

Do the same bind off you did in step 3, then follow the 4th step and this step until you have bound off all of your stitches. Then you can cut your yarn, tie off the end, and weave it in. Well done!

Here’s a great tutorial by Purl Soho on youtube.

Three Needles Bind Off Purlwise

You do a similar technique to the knit stitched three-needle bind off.

Instead of putting your needle through the first stitch on the front needle, you bring the yarn to the front, stick the needle purlwise into the first stitch on the back needle, and then into the first stitch on the front needle.

Then you yarn over and ‘purl two together.’ Continue with the bind off sequence above.

How To Do Three Needle Bind Off In The Round

You can do the same bind-off method with a magic loop. Just follow the same sequence above. The only difference is that you end up with the top of the tube closed.

More Uses for the Three Needles Bind Off

You can use the three-needle cast off for all sorts of things that you need to seam closed, sock toes, the tops of hats, amigurumi heads, etc.

Your Questions Answered

How Do You Hold Knitting Needles In The Round?

You hold circular knitting needles like you would when you hold straight needles, like a knife. The only difference between the two is that there is a cord that connects the needles.

Alternative To Three Needle Cast Off

A great bulk-free alternative to the three-needle cast-off is the Kitchener stitch.

Three Needle Bind Off Vs. Kitchener Stitch

The Kitchener stitch is handy, especially when you knit socks. This stitch closes up live stitches, so you don’t have to cast off the stitches, then seam it together with a needle and thread.

Sock knitters use the Kitchener stitch to close off the remaining stitches, thus making the toe.

The biggest difference between the three-needle bind off and the Kitchener stitch is that the former uses three knitting needles, and the latter uses a needle and some thread.

Kitchener stitch is much less bulky than the three-needle bind off.

Hope you found this guide to this way of casting off helpful. This is an essential skill for any knitter!

Something I forgot? Or have a question? Leave a comment at the end.

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How to work a three needle bind off

How to work a three needle bind off

About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, owner and creator of Knit Like Granny. (Yes, I’m a real person 🙂 ) Thanks for being here.

I created Knit Like Granny to help show 1,000,000 people the benefits of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion.

I love knitting and have met so many other fabulous knitters through this site. I enjoy learning and helping others discover the joys of working with yarn.

The 3 needle bind off is a method of binding off and seaming at the same time. It is often used for shoulder seams, but can be used to bind off and seam any 2 pieces of fabric with live stitches.

Often times, when a pattern calls for binding off each piece separately and then sewing them together, I will substitute the 3 needle bind off.

I like this bind off because it accompishes 2 tasks in one step – very efficient! Besides, who likes seaming? And the seam produced by the 3 needle bind off is usually less bulky compared to binding off each piece separately and grafting or seaming them together.

What It Looks Like

Unlike the Kitchener stitch method of grafting, which produces an invisible seam, this method leaves a distinct seam. It looks like a mattress stitch seam on the right side but is less bulky on the wrong side.

3 Needle BO on the Right Side of the Fabric 3 Needle BO on the Wrong Side of the Fabric

How to Do the 3 Needle Bind Off

As the name suggests, you need 3 needles to do this bind off. You will have the stitches from one piece of fabric on one needle, the stitches from the other piece of fabric on another needle, and a third empty needle to work wih (the working needle).

Watch this 3-minute video to learn how to do the 3 needle bind off. There are written instructions below the video.

The 3 needle bind off is very similar to a standard bind off, but you will:

  1. Hold the 2 needles with stitches parallel to each other in your left hand, with the working yarn on the back needle (you can do it with the working yarn on the front needle, but it’s easier if it’s on the back one)
  2. With the working needle in your right hand, insert it into the first stitch on one needle, then immediately into the first stitch on the 2nd needle, as if to knit.
  3. Knit those 2 stitches together
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 so that you have 2 stitches on your right needle
  5. Bind off as you would normally
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 until you have one stitch left on your working needle
  7. Cut the yarn and pull the tail through the last stitch

The garment used in this lesson is the Love Is in the Air sleeveless top, one of the many knit alongs in the Knit Along Club.

The Knit Along Club is designed for knitters like you who want to improve their skills. Each knit along includes online written and video tutorials to guide you through every step of the pattern. Click on the graphic below to learn more.

2 thoughts on “Three Needle Bind Off”

Hi Beth, I saw these pictures of sheep wearing hand knitted sweaters and immediately thought of you and your business. Don’t you think this would be a way of garnering good publicity for your shop, retreats, visitors and town? It would make great pictures for your website, print media and marketing.