Icelandic Bind-Off: The Best Easy Bind-Off for Garter Stitch

Garter-Stitch Bind-Off SamplerGarter stitch may well be the perfect knitted fabric. Anyone can do it, it can help you meet handsome strangers, and looks great coming and going.

But let’s face it — on garter stitch, a regular bind-off never seems to cut it.

The fabric spreads out more than Stockinette stitch, but doesn’t bounce back in like ribbing, plus you’ve got those horizontal bumps to try to match.

A regular bind-off just makes a pulled-in, inflexible edge. Ick!

Now, with more than 40 perfect bind-offs at my disposal, I set out to find THE bind-off that I would use on every Garter-stitch project from now on.

I decided the ideal bind-off would be:

. . . .— stretchy but not too stretchy
. . . .— a good match to the horizontal bumps
. . . .— fast and easy

I picked the three bind-offs out of my upcoming ebook that I thought would work the best. They are shown at left.

All three turned out to be great choices!
Picking a Winner
I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite from among my top three choices. I know that for any project over 60 stitches wide, I would choose the fastest one: the Icelandic bind-off, which is what I’m going to teach you today.

The Icelandic bind-off (shown at left) is faster because it is done “on the needles” as opposed to sewn with a tapestry needle.

For any long-edged Garter-stitch project like the Color Affection shawl that’s so popular on Ravelry (pictured below), I recommend this excellent bind-off.

It matches the fabric almost perfectly, and is strong, stretchy, and sturdy — just what the doctor ordered.

For Long Swaths of Garter Stitch, The Icelandic Bind-Off Is Perfect

Color Affection Shawl by Veera Välimäki

See for yourself! I’ll teach you the quick and easy Icelandic Bind-Off below, and you can try it on a swatch of Garter stitch and see what you think.

The Runner-Up

For a narrow project (less than 50 stitches or so), I recommend the Latvian bind-off. An easy sewn bind-off, it makes a soft and stretchy line of V’s on the right side (and matches the Long-Tail cast-on).

Latvian Bind-OffRunner Up: The Latvian Bind-Off
A smooth and stretchy sewn bind-off. Find it in I Love Bind-Offs, coming March 8th.

On the other side of the garter stitch, it blends in completely. It’s also super stretchy. And, if you get a rhythm going, it can be relatively fast for a sewn bind-off.

A Perfect Match

My third choice for Garter-stitch bind-off is the EZ sewn bind-off, which matches the Garter stitch fabric and stretchiness the best of all three choices.

EZ Sewn Bind-OffThird Place: EZ Sewn Bind-Off
A perfectly-matching bind-off for beginners, coming March 8th in I Love Bind-Offs.

The only drawback is that it’s a little slow (because it’s a sewn bind-off) and it’s not as easy to get into a rhythm as on the Latvian bind-off. It may also be hard to get your tension perfect right off the bat.

Try It For Yourself

The best way to see what bind-off is your favorite is to do a sampler and try all three. In my upcoming ebook, I Love Bind-Offs, I give you directions for how to make samplers for each category of bind-off, so you can learn and compare many bind-offs at once.

Today I’m going to teach you the Icelandic Bind-Off.
You’ll have to wait to buy the ebook to learn the other two!
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Learn the Icelandic Bind-Off
icon-intermediateicon-fasticon-stretchy

Icelandic Bind-OffThis is a medium-speed, stretchy bind-off that’s good for intermediate knitters. It’s one of the stretchiest of the standard bind-offs. Amazing for garter stitch, as discussed above.

Tip: You can use the Icelandic Bind-off on any fabric, not just Garter stitch. Try it on Stockinette – it will make a pretty little rolled edge.

Scroll down to see a video, step-by-step photo instructions, tips and tricks, and an animated demo. Enjoy learning this new technique using whatever style of instructions suits you best.

Icelandic Bind-Off: Video

garter stitch bind-off icelandic bind-off video

Tip – many readers have asked what needles I’m using in the video and photos. I’m using my favorites: Signature Needle Arts needles, which I’ve collected over many birthdays. Make sure to get the Stiletto Tip.

Icelandic Bind-Off: Step-by-Step Instructions

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2

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7

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With R needle, reach through 1st st purlwise.

Catch front loop of 2nd st.

Draw 2nd st through 1st st.

Wrap your yarn to knit. Pull yarn through.

Complete the K stitch.

Move st back to L needle.

Repeat steps 1-6 across row.

Cut yarn and pull through last st.


Icelandic Bind-Off Step-by-Step Instructions


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Icelandic Bind-Off: Tips and Tricks

One thing to help you do this bind-off faster is to get into a rhythm.

Don’t be afraid to stretch the stitches as you do them so that you can get into a rhythm and make sure that the bind-off comes out nice and even. If your tension varies a lot you’ll notice the bind-off won’t look as nice.

To go faster: when you put the stitch back on the left needle, leave the right needle-tip inserted in the stitch.

You will already be in position to catch the front loop of the second stitch and start the movement again.

Icelandic Bind-Off Tip 1

Also, make sure to push each completed stitch onto the barrel of the R needle, even if only briefly, before you pass it back to the left-hand needle.

This will keep the stitches from getting too tight.

Icelandic Bind-Off Tip 2

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Icelandic Bind-Off: Animated Demo
Icelandic Bind-Off - Animated GIF

This Tutorial Is Part Of “I Love Bind-Offs” — Available Now!

I Love Bind-Offs Ebook Cover

Rated 5 Stars on About.com! Learn More

Related Posts:

Leave A Comment

What’s the last project that you did in Garter stitch? Were you happy with the bind-off you used? Can you suggest anything to our readers?

Or were you, like me, doomed to never be happy with your Garter-stitch bind-offs (until now!)?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

About Liat Gat - Founder

Liat is the founder and video knitting expert at KNITFreedom. If you liked this article, you'll love the tips you learn from her FREE video newsletter. Get it now by subscribing here.
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94 Responses to Icelandic Bind-Off: The Best Easy Bind-Off for Garter Stitch

  1. Vicki says:

    I really like the flow of this bind-off – no stopping to pull the second stitch over the first one. I’ll have to remember this one. Kind of reminds me of the Portuguese bind-off.

  2. Nuala says:

    Liat I could just hug you! This is just perfect as now I know what I’m doing for my Color Affection. Thank you so so much, you’re a star!

    • Liat Gat says:

      Nuala, it was YOUR comment on last week’s post that made me realize I had to create this garter-stitch bind-off post for my readers. Binding off on garter stitch is undeniably a problem, and I decided to solve it forever. So your smart question has helped thousands of people! Thanks again for being part of this community. :)

      • Nuala says:

        Wow, thanks Liat! Well I guess lots of us wonder the same thing and your lovely clear instructions (you actually make it seem easy!) will definitely help thousands of people. If you don’t mind, I’ll link to it on my Color Affection project page. I’m also in the Knit Freedom Rav group so I’ll post how it turned out.

  3. Nancy Noel says:

    How do I buy your book?

    Luv the way Liat teaches.

    • Liat Gat says:

      Thank you Nancy! I’ll send you an email on March 8th, the day the ebook is available, with a link and a special discount code for you to use that weekend only.

      • Merrilou says:

        Liat, can we read your new book on Kindle? And will I be able to gift one to my sister for her birthday in her Kindle?
        Merrilou

        • Liat Gat says:

          Hi Merrilou, if you and your sister have Kindle Fires, then you will both be able to watch the classes on them.

          If you have the more basic e-readers, it won’t be possible to access the ebooks on Kindle — yet. I do hope to make special Kindle-formatted books for all my classes, especially now that I am putting in the step-by-step photos (before, when it was just video, it wasn’t really worth it, because you wouldn’t be able to watch the videos anyway).

          So for the future, I will say yes, but for the launch, I have to say no, nothing special for Kindle will be ready. I’m so sorry! But I’m glad you commented because I think it’s a great suggestion and will try to make it happen soon.

  4. Judith Schmitz says:

    I have not yet tried the bind off, but would like to be able to duplicate the blue/gray striped shawl, it is beautiful. If the pattern is available please let me know where/how to obtain it.

  5. Lisa Lord says:

    This bind off is great. I’ve not seen this one before. Can’t wait to give it a try. Your careful and thorough presentation of techniques is second to none. Thank you so much. You’re the best!

  6. Lise Dostie says:

    I am enjoying your detailed instructions. Eventhough I have been knitting forever, I am still learning. They are great. Thank you

  7. Frostie5 says:

    Didn’t take long to get into this cast-off and it looks great. However, it doesn’t flow as well if you’re an English/American style knitter. I really must try the continental style!

  8. Joan says:

    Love your thorough instruction on all your videos!
    You make it seem as if you are sitting right next to me showing me how to work my needlework knits!
    Thank you for this bind off I can’t wait to try on edge of hats or cowls etc! Much appreciation

  9. Nancy Sturm says:

    Hmm. This bind off is essentially a conventional bind off done in a smoother, more efficient way, but all the same steps are there. Each stitch (except the very first) gets knitted, and each stitch gets pulled over the previous stitch (that’s what happens when you reach in through the first stitch to work the second one.) So why is it so much better for garter stitch than a conventional bind off?

    • Liat Gat says:

      I don’t know! Try it and see. Knit a swatch of garter stitch, bind off half of it with the Standard bind-off and the other half with the Icelandic bind-off. It looks and behaves a lot differently.

  10. Jo Schwartz says:

    What a great teacher! The animated demo is perfect to take a quick peek back as a refresher. (I never seem to remember the different cast on and bind off methods when I need them!) Thank you!

  11. Diana0324 says:

    Hi Liat:
    I love the way you teach, is very clear, and everyone can follow your instructions. I’ve been waiting to buy the Signature Needle Arts needles, and I’ll follow your example and buy them for my birthday, but I want to know what do you recommend, straights or circular, fixed or interchangeable? And what sizes do you recommend to buy first? I have several needles, and try to buy them circular, fixed, and in very long cable like 40 or 47″ long. Please tell me I want to buy wisely. Thank you!

    • Liat Gat says:

      Diana, even better than buying them for your birthday, have someone ELSE buy them for you for your birthday! My best friend and I do this for each other each year.

      I’ve never tried their circular needles, since I already had a full set of Addi Turbos before the Signature circulars came out. So I can’t advise you on that point. But if you are going to buy circulars, I think you have the right idea. I’d do fixed, 47″ long.

      When I bought my straight needles, I started with US size 7 and added US sizes 8, 10, 5, and 9, in that order (I just bought the 9’s last month. They’ll make an appearance in Friday’s tutorial — “5 Fixes for a Too-Tight Bind-Off”).

      For circular needles, I find that I use sizes 7, 5, 8, 10, and, of course, 2 (for socks).

      I hope this helps!

      • Diana0324 says:

        Thank you so much!! I’ll follow your advise, I’m thinking in a couple of people that could buy them for me! You are the best teacher!! God bless you.

  12. Vickie says:

    A great bind off! Your videos and instructions are always so clear and understandable. Can’t wait for the book to come out. Thanks.

  13. Sonya Federman says:

    It looks like a great bind off. I love learning new tricks in knitting (and crochet).

  14. Mary says:

    I recently made a Color Affection… I used the lace bindoff K1/K2tog tbl… it was fine, maybe a little stretched out and used a lot of yarn (I ran out with 14 stitches left to go!) I really like the look of this Icelandic Bind-Off!

  15. Juice says:

    Easy, simple and just perfect…thx a bunch, again

  16. Joan Trautwein says:

    Actually, I never knew that there were so many bind-offs until the past few years. Now that I’m aware, I am not satisfied with my old standard bind-off especially with garter stitch. My edges are mostly ribbing and lately seed stitch for the bottom edges of top down knitting, so you know I am looking forward to your new book.

  17. Janice Shepherd says:

    I LOVE your tutorials! I am excited about your new book and anxiously awaiting the release.
    Wonder if anyone else has experienced this: your newsletter links will not open in either my android phone or on my laptop. I get a message that the website is not available. Common? Or is it just my setup?

    • Liat Gat says:

      Janice, thanks so much for your comment! About the newsletter links being broken, the big site that we use for our newsletter signups totally crashed yesterday! They are still repairing it today. So things should be up and running properly soon.

  18. nadine colson says:

    Thank you so much for showing the various bind-offs….really like the tutorials….Also appreciate knowing the best means to use each bind off. Either lace, ribbing or ….Will definitely be buying your e-book when it comes out so that I will have your tutorials handy!! thank you again for giving a perfect finish to our projects

  19. Pat says:

    I have learned soooo much from you and your website ! What a blessing to are to all !

  20. Phyllis Oviatt says:

    You saved me this morning and I thank you! I was just finishing my Color Affection and not looking forward to binding it off. The Icelandic Bind-Off solved my problem and inspired me to try it. WOW!!!… is all I can say. I look forward to all your tutorials; every one has been very useful.

  21. Peggy Watkins says:

    I love this bind-off. So easy and nice and stretchy too. Thank you!

  22. Darcee says:

    Hi! I was just finishing a sweater with a cowl neck in garter stitch and was thinking about bind off….and there was your tutorial. It worked beautifully except at the join (circular). There was a loose stitch between the first and last bind off. Any tips? Thanks so much!

  23. Judi says:

    Glad the site is back up. I, too, could not access the video and step-by-steps.
    Sometimes the animated is enough, but I couldn’t figure it out this time.
    Thank you so much for your very clear, very concise tutorials!
    I extol your virtues nearly every chance I get. :)

  24. Heather Hufton says:

    Lucy Neatbee has a cast off that is almost the same in one of her knitting Essentials DVDs Heather

  25. Margaret Ann says:

    Thank you Liat for your so helpful advice, instructions and interesting stuff. You are my support person and I am enjoying knitting more and more thanks to the confidence I have gained from your website. You are very clever and special and I wish you well in all your endeavours.

  26. Christina says:

    I consider myself an intermediate to advanced knitter but I’ve learned all sorts of things in the last week here. Love this Icelandic cast off and it’s so easy. I also loved your demos last week for how to cast on and off in the round to avoid that weird bump. Your instructions were better than any other demos I’ve seen and the results were much cleaner!

    Thank Liat!

    • Liat Gat says:

      Thank you Christina!

      I’m also an intermediate to advanced knitter, and I wanted to make sure that the bind-offs I was gathering for the upcoming ebook would be revelatory for knitters of ALL levels, not just beginners. I wanted to enjoy the bind-offs too! So I’m glad you’re really “feeling” the tips I’ve chosen to teach on the blog.

      Rest assured, inside the upcoming ebook are tons more techniques that intermediate-to-advanced knitters will LOVE.

  27. Joan says:

    Totally LOVE this bind off! Very easy & looks quite nice! Thank you for this tutorial!

  28. Susan in OK says:

    Thank you for the different bind-offs. I’m definitely going to try them. They seem very awkward to me since I’m a yarn thrower. But I am willing to try to learn new techniques. Thank you.

    • Liat Gat says:

      Good for you, Susan! These bind-offs can be done by any style of knitter. I just wasn’t able to show both ways in the photos, because that would be way too many photos.

  29. zabia says:

    hi,
    I like your self confedence very much and feel I have to make a file named bind offs by you of course to feel ease I won’t miss any thing.

  30. COgle says:

    Have been looking for ways to bind off the toe up 2 at a time socks that I’m making. When I try stretchy bind offs I end up with tops flaring, I tried the first bind off you sent via email and it took longer and used more yarn, and still had some flare at the top. Will the islandic work with 1×1 ribbing? I don’t know if that caused the issue with the first one since after I finished the ribbed cuff, I knit all stitches for 1 row so didn’t have to deal with the purl stitches. (I tend to look for what seems like logical ways to solve problems but they don’t always work)

    • Liat Gat says:

      Hi there,

      Great question! I don’t think the Icelandic Bind-Off will be perfect to bind off toe-up socks. I give you about 12 better options for bind-offs specifically for 1×1 and 2×2 rib in my upcoming ebook, I Love Bind-Offs, available March 8th. If you can wait until then I think you will be very pleased!

      Also, in the ebook, I show photos of how the bind-offs look when used on 1×1 and 2×2 rib, and I NEVER want the bind-offs to flare, so you can rest assured that you’ll choose one that will work very well.

  31. April says:

    This was so timely Liat. I just finish the first of a pair of slippers all done in garter stitch. I watched the video and decided the Icelandic would be the perfect bindoff. The slippers were done holding two strands together and of course needed to be stretchy to get the foot in. So away I went. It came out perfect.
    Thankyou.

  32. This is so cool. I did not even know that there are so many ways to to bind off. I knit since I was 6 years old. My grandmother taught me how to knit. Sometimes I did not want to knit than what she did is wrap the yarn into a ball but she would include an occasional candy. When I begged for a candy, she told me to knit until one falls out of the unraveled yarn. So I did and learned a lot. I have been watching your little videos since you started. I enjoy every one of them. Occasionally I give it a try. You are very resourceful. Thank you.

    • Liat Gat says:

      Ursula, what a wonderful story! I’m really glad you shared it here. I absolutely love it. Thanks for letting me know you’ve been out there all this time, enjoying my videos. Hugs!

  33. rebecca williams says:

    I think you should show/demonstrate the Icelandic bindoff on a garter sample rather than stockinette, as that is what your header was about!!

    • Liat Gat says:

      I know, Rebecca, I’m sorry! I put up a picture of it, at least. I discovered how good this bind-off was for Garter stitch after I had created the video and tutorial. I’ve been so busy creating 45 tutorials like this one for the upcoming ebook that I didn’t have time to go back and re-record a new video showing this bind-off on Garter stitch.

  34. Charlene says:

    Liat, you are such a great teacher. I don’t often comment, but wanted you to know how much I love your emails and videos. Thank you. Looking forward to you new eBook on bind-offs.

    • Liat Gat says:

      Charlene, your comment means a lot to me. I’m glad to know you’re out there enjoying and benefitting from my tutorials! Thanks for being a loyal student. Hugs!

  35. MeMary77knits says:

    I really like this bind off although I haven’t kicked the “knitting tight” problem making many techniques difficult. But, can’t wait to buy the Bind off eBook.
    Mary

  36. Krys says:

    I watched your video and just had to give it a try; not only does it produce a stretchy bind off but it is easy on the hands and fingers and so very fast. I am interested in ordering your book do you have a shopping area on your website.

    Thanks, Krys

    • Liat Gat says:

      Krys, I’m delighted this bind-off worked as well for you as it did for me. The ebook is going to be available on March 8th – if you’re signed up for the newsletter you’ll get a nice, big discount on launch day.

      You can check out all the video ebooks I have – there are a lot – on my Classes page. Happy knitting!

  37. Csillag says:

    I really like that bind-off especially on the neck of children. Thank you for all those tips.

  38. joann says:

    Love how this looks – and, as always, great instructions. I bought the superstar lessons and am having a great time using your techniques. I’ve been knitting a long time and it’s such fun to still be learning and improving. Look forward to the bind-off book. Thanks a million for what you do.

  39. Madoline Clemmons says:

    I got your email right on time. I was finishing the last couple of rows on a shawl that had strips of patterns in it. It ended with several rows of garter stitch. When I was ready to bind off I just followed your instructions and have a beautiful bound off edge. I even used the tip to just pick up the next stitch as you move the one from R to L. Can’t wait to see what else your new book has.

    • Liat Gat says:

      Yaaay! Madoline, your comment makes me so happy. Woohoo! I’m so glad your shawl turned out perfectly. That makes all this research I’m doing so satisfying.

  40. Francese says:

    Wow! I love that Icelandic bindoff! I intend to learn and use it
    for all my handmade items especially the necklines on tops

  41. mary (molly) protheroe says:

    For me your instruction videos are the best – you always show the possible errors and how to correct them as you go plus using both types of knitting_ Fabulous! I share your instructions with all my friends who knit for charity and they always have positive feedback.Since that first class at STIX Barb and I are hooked (or needled) on your videos – Thanks for making me a knitting star in my group.

  42. Savannagal says:

    Great instructions. Thank you. I only wish I could download the info and images as a PDF for future reference.

  43. Iris Stewart says:

    You are a great teacher. Thank you for your news letter and videos. They are very much appreciated. Any chance you will make a hardcopy version of your new book?

  44. ro says:

    icelandic bind-off – cool stitch and rythem

  45. Kelly says:

    i swear I’m gettting so spoiled by your fantastic videos… I have never seen anything else on the web that comes close to the detail, beauty and plain old usefulness of your videos. You’re my knitting hero!

    Thank you so much for this bindoff (and the ebook is AMAZING!!!!) – I’ve been frustrated forever with my garter stitch bindoffs, but I tried this today and it’s just PERFECT

    You rock!

  46. Kamla says:

    I love the way explained in your videos. Keep up the good work for us who are new to knitting.

  47. This is great! So clear, well written and photographed.

  48. Susan says:

    Happy Happy Happy to have found this bind off. So very clean, and the perfect ending to my mindless knit “Jennifer Shawl” with gorgeous Noro yarn. Truly delightful!

    Many Thanks!

    • Eurista says:

      I looked up Jennifer’s shawl on-line, looking for a pattern. The image I saw of this shawl is beautiful. Susan’s comment in October 2014 refers to the pattern as “mindless knit.” Where can I get the pattern for this beautiful shawl?

  49. Karin says:

    I love the look of the Latvian cast off – it may mean I love garter stitch projects more!
    I’m still searching for the best match to the Estonian (Double Start) cast on and would love suggestions. Thank you!

  50. I couldn’t think of a bind-off that matches the Estonian cast-on.

    Your best bet would be to use one of the Stretchy/Ribbing bind-offs in my I Love Bind-Offs course. The most important thing is to find a bind-off that matches the cast-on in terms of stretchiness and sturdiness.

  51. Grace says:

    Dear Liat,
    I was searching a perfect bind-off for an infinity scarf when I discovered your page.
    Your explanation gave me the solution I was looking for.
    Thank you for the great video.
    All the best and happy knitting from Brazil!

  52. Lisa says:

    Can this cool Icelandic bind off be used with 2 x2 ribbing? I can’t seem to find anything on this. Thank you. Love your tutorials!

  53. Rosie says:

    I have been a huge fan of yours for some time now and I tell everyone you are my go to gal when it comes to knitting . I am very interested in your Bind Offs , you show the Latvian bind off and I would love to learn the how to of it . Is it included in this new offer ? .

    • Hi Rosie,
      It’s so great to hear from you! You’ve been one of my sweetest, most dedicated fans since the very beginning, and I’m delighted that you’re still learning things on KnitFreedom.
      To answer your question: yes, the Latvian bind-off is part of the video class I Love Bind-Offs It’s one of the three bind-offs I recommend for garter stitch.
      I hope you give I Love Bind-Offs a try – like all my video classes, it’s guaranteed to please.
      Take care and keep in touch,
      Liat

  54. elizabeth calloway says:

    This was perfect for the neckline of something I made for my son. It really is beautiful. Thanks so much.

    • candy says:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      What garment did you make for your son? Can you link to it on Ravelry? It would be so helpful for others to see it. (And me too!).

      Happy Knitting
      Candy (KnitFreedom Customer Happiness Guru)

  55. I’m working on a top-down sweater done in stockinette stitch. The waist band is in garter stitch. I’ve practiced the Icelandic bind-off and like it, my question is which side of the garment should it be done on? Since the sweater is in stockinette stitch there is a right and wrong side. Thanks in advance.

  56. Candy (KnitFreedom Customer Happiness guru) says:

    Hi Janice,

    Do the bind-off with the right side facing you. Just keep in mind that the edge will roll a bit, since you’ll be doing it on Stockinette stitch.

    Happy Knitting,

  57. Martina says:

    Thank you so much fr the tutorial. I was just looking for a nice bind-off for my “different lines”. I now make the icelandic-bind-off. So happy with it.

  58. Breezed says:

    Some posts will never be outdated. I am so glad I happened upon this today. I am making a shawl/poncho and each end is in garter stitch and I just knew the common bind-off wouldn’t be good for this. This was a little clumsy for me at first to get the tension even but I think I got it now! Definitely will be using this method more often. :) Thank you for sharing.

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