The 3-Needle Bind-off is a popular method for joining live stitches. Unlike Kitchener Stitch, it isn’t invisible, but is fairly unnoticeable if the bind-off is worked with the right sides of the work together.
Personally, I like to work this technique with the wrong sides of the work together, so that it becomes a feature of your knitting – it creates a strong, structured ridge that can look very effective and add additional detail to a piece.
This bind-off is commonly used for seams where extra support is needed, for instance shoulder seams, where its bulk helps give a garment shape and prolongs the life of the seam.
To do this bind-off, you will need a spare needle, ideally slightly larger than the working needles, and some waste yarn, which would normally be the tail recently cut after knitting has finished. The amount of yarn needed will vary depending on your project, and three times the length of the seam to be joined is a good estimate.
Because you are working a knit two together and a cast-off in one go, your work can get a bit tight, and a tight seam doesn’t have much flexibility. This is why it is recommended that the third needle be a slightly larger gauge than the working needles.
In this example shown here, the 3-Needle bind-off is being worked as a decorative seam as used in my Lenina pattern, so the wrong sides of the work are together. Also, the stitches on the back needle have been released from a provisional cast-on. For a less visible seam, place the right sides of the work together before joining.
1) Using the spare needle, insert in knitwise into the first stitch on the front needle and the first stitch on the back needle.
2) Wrap the yarn around the spare needle
3) and pull it through both stitches, knitting them together (knit two together)
4) Insert the needle again into the next stitch on both the front needle and the back needle, the same as you did in step 1.
5) Knit these 2 stitches together, the same as you did in step 2. There are now 2 stitches on the spare needle.
6) Using one of the needles in your left hand, lift the first/lower stitch on the spare needle over the second/upper stitch and slip it off the needle, exactly the same as you would when you are casting off.
7) Now repeat from step 4 until all stitches have been cast off, and then thread yarn through the remaining stitch on the spare needle to finish.
You might want to give your bind-off edge a little tug, just to help the stitches settle and neaten them out.
As always, if you have a question about this technique or need some help with it, leave a comment below! I’m afraid I’m unable to offer help via email or private message, but you’re welcome to post in our forums.
The photos in this post were updated on 29 January, 2021.