3-Needle Bind Off Knitting Tutorial

Join 2 layers of knit fabric while binding off at the same time, and all without any sewing! The 3-needle bind off combines 2 sets of live stitches together, leaving a decorative ridge.

How to Knit the 3 Needle Bind Off - Tutorial on Stitches n Scraps

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When Can I Use a 3-Needle Bind Off?

You can use this bind off any time you want to join two layers of live stitches together. It’s a very strong seam, and not overly bulky, but it does create a raised ridge.

Finished seam at bottom of bag

This means it’s great for things like bags, cowls, and shoulder seams on sweaters. It’s not a great choice for things like sock toes, where the ridge might be uncomfortable. For those situations, I prefer grafting / Kitchener stitch.

The 3rd Needle

For a 3-needle bind off, you need…well…3 needles. The first two are usually going to be whatever you’ve been knitting with. What about the third? It only ever needs to hold 2 stitches at at time, so any needle will do. Double pointed, straight or circular are all fine. You can even use just the tip from an interchangeable needle set.

3 needles for 3-needle bind off

This needle should be the same size as the needles you’ve been using for your knitting. If you don’t have a third needle in that size, or if you have a tendency to bind off too tightly, you can use a needle that is one size larger.

Working the 3-Needle Bind Off

Setting Up

Make sure you have an even number of stitches. You may need to do a decrease in the previous row to achieve this. Now arrange your stitches on your first 2 needles so that half the stitches are on each needle. We will be working these stitches off in pairs, one from each needle.

split stitches evenly on 2 needles

If you are using circular needles, you can just line up the first few stitches on each needle. You can separate the rest out later, after you’ve bound off enough to give you some space.

Working from circulars

Your third needle is your working needle. Hold this in your dominant hand. Your other two needles, with all the stitches on them, are your non-working needles. Hold these in your non-dominant hand.

Binding Off

Insert your working needle, as if to knit, through the first stitch on each needle. Knit these 2 stitches together. Repeat this for the next pair of stitches.

Knit through a pair of stitches

You now have 2 stitches on your working needle. Using the tip of one of your non-working needles, pass the back stitch over the front one. This step is just like a traditional / simple bind off. You have now joined and bound off 1 pair of stitches.

Pass first stitch over 2nd

Knit the next pair of stitches together, so that you again have 2 stitches on your working needle. Once again, pass the back stitch over the front one, and you have bound off another pair.

Continue this until no stitches remain on the non-working needles, and you have only 1 stitch on the working needle. Cut your yarn, leaving a tail to weave in later, and pull up on the working stitch until the tail comes through.

Fasten off final stitch

Cleaning Up

You may notice the last pair of stitches in your 3-Needle bind off are looser than the others. That happens because this kind of bind off tends to push any excess yarn forward to the next pair of stitches as you go. With nowhere to go when you’re done, all that excess yarn ends up in the last two stitches.

Loose tension at the end

Stretch out your work to ease some of this tension back into the rest of the seam. Blocking will also help. If all else fails, you can hide this extra bit of yarn when you weave in your end. Push it to the wrong side of your work, and sew over it to hold it in place.

Try It Yourself!

Use this bind off to finish the Date Night Clutch. The pattern starts at the top of the flap, continuing down into the bag portion. In the end, a 3-needle bind off creates a strong bottom seam.

Date Night Clutch - Free knitting pattern on Stitches n Scraps

3-Needle Bind Off – Video Tutorial

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How to Knit the 3 Needle Bind Off - Tutorial on Stitches n Scraps

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