Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14

We've got another fabulous guest tutorial today for the Summer Sweater Knit Along 2014 from one of my fave designers - the lovely Bristol Ivy!

Bristol's designs speak to my texture loving soul. I love her unique constructions, creative lines and overall aesthetic of her work as a designer. She's a huge source of inspiration for me as a designer and I've been a fan of hers since she started so I'm just over the moon to have Bristol here for our Summer Sweater Knit Along 2014! I knew you would all be just as excited as I am!

Bristol has a written a tutorial for us that is for one of those garment knitting situations that you're always wondering if there was a better way to handle. You know that happy place in a top down sweater that you reach when you get to separate for sleeves? Yep, that wonderful knitting haven where you think "it looks like a sweater" and "now I can try it on" time. You know those stitches you have to put on waste yarn - well Bristol is showing us how to do the Provisional Bind Off in place of just putting those lovely stitches on a scrap yarn to get all distorted. Genius. No distorted stitches and it's much easier to try your garment on. I seriously live for these kinds of things. I'm always researching and trying to learn as a knitter and learning something new like this is food for the soul for me. I encourage you to give it a try! Don't be scared of the word "provisional". It's got a bad rap in the knitting world as being hard and it's really not. Promise.

Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14
Before we jump in the lovely Bristol's birthday is this week! Happy birthday Bristol! In honor of her bday she has a lovely Birthday Sale! Bundle on! Use coupon code "29on28" to get 29% off the patterns listed in the bundle until August 31st.

And now here's Bristol...

Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14

Knitting a top-down sweater can be a fabulous way to get acquainted with sweater knitting.

Seamless, easy to try on and refine the fit of as you go, and a great way to eke out every last inch of your favorite yarn.  What’s not to like? But I’ll admit there was one part of the process that I didn’t love--putting the sleeves on waste yarn after the yoke was complete.  Either my waste yarn was too short and I couldn’t get my arms through, or it was too long and my stitches got distorted.  And what was going on with the stitches at the beginning and ends of each sleeve? It’s like they completely disappear, any extra slack in them getting absorbed into the body stitches on either side.  And, to be completely honest, a huge stumbling block? Hunting down a tapestry needle so I could thread the yarn through in the first place.

The biggest thing that bugged me about this, though, was how badly my sleeve stitches got distorted while they were on their holder.  I never felt like I got an accurate idea of how my sleeves fit, and finessing them back to the original gauge was always such a headache.  With these annoyances in mind, I started brainstorming other ways you could hold the sleeve stitches--something that would still be easy, prevent distortion, protect the integrity of the stitches at each edge, and wouldn’t need a tapestry needle.  Here’s what I came up with: the Provisional Bind-Off!

Just like the Provisional Cast-On Tutorial that Hilary showed you a couple weeks ago, the Provisional Bind-Off holds your stitches ready to work for whenever you need them.  Here, I’m demonstrating on half of a basic top-down raglan shape, worked in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Nest (special thanks to my friend Aimee for being a willing hand model!), but this is relevant to any place where you might hold stitches: underarms, henley plackets, back necks, et cetera.

Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14

STEP ONE \\ With your working yarn, work in pattern as established to the stitches that need to be held.

Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14

STEP TWO \\ Drop your working yarn and pick up your waste yarn (either a spare ball or a length approximately 4 times as long as the fabric being held). (Image 1)

STEP THREE \\ With waste yarn, bind off knitwise all stitches to be held. (Images 2, 3 & 4)

Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14

STEP FOUR \\ After knitting the final stitch, elongate it by pulling more yarn through, then break the waste yarn (you can leave this stitch live as Hilary’s done at the end of her Provisional Cast-On, but I tend to get it caught on things.  Try it and see!). (Image 1)

STEP FIVE \\ When you reach the end of the stitches that need to be held, fold the bound off fabric onto itself to close the gap between the stitches previously worked in your working yarn and the next stitches, and continue on with the next set of pattern instructions in the working yarn, whether that’s casting on stitches to cover the gap, or just continuing directly to the next set of stitches.  In my example, I am working directly with the next set of stitches. (Images 2 & 3)

The Provisional Bind-Off is complete! 

Here you can see the body of my sweater sample is started and the sleeve stitches are held with the Provisional Bind-Off, ready to be unzipped and worked. (Image 4)

Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14

STEP SIX \\ When you’re ready to work the held stitches, slide the tail of the waste yarn back through the previous stitch and through the first live working stitch (shown from the wrong side).

Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14
Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14
Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14

STEP SEVEN \\ Unzip the bind-off stitch by stitch, replacing the stitches on the needle.  You can then proceed with the pattern instructions as written as show above and below.

Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14Provisional Bind Off Tutorial with Guest Bristol Ivy || #sskal14

A couple tips: make sure to use relatively smooth, non-toothy waste yarn.  

For the example shown, to pair with the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter I used Quince & Co.’s Lark, a smooth, worsted-spun 100% wool that I knew wouldn’t grab onto the stitches it held and make it difficult to unravel.  Fibers or yarn types to avoid would be mohair, alpaca, cashmere, boucle, novelty yarn, or anything with a halo that could get tangled in the stitches of the working yarn and make it hard to unravel.

Additionally, be mindful of your bind-off.  

If you know you typically go up or down a needle size when binding off to match your working gauge, do so here as well.

Once you’ve taken these steps to provisionally bind off your stitches to be held, you can try the sweater on and proceed as usual, without worrying about any of your stitches distorting the structure of the bind off.  This will hold your stitches in place and match your working gauge, giving you a much better idea of how the sleeves will fit.  It will also make it easier to recover and work those stitches when you’re ready.  Plus, as a huge bonus, no hunting down that elusive tapestry needle!

So there you have it: the Provisional Bind-Off.  Give it a try next time you have to hold some stitches!

Thanks so much for being on the blog today Bristol! You can find all things Bristol below...

What do you think? Have you tried this method before? Do you adore the Provisional Cast on and Bind off too?