Three Needle Bind Off: What is it? When to use it.

Most knitters have strong feelings toward seaming their work. Much like weaving in ends, seaming your work usually happens toward the end of a project and this elicits different feelings in different crafters.

Personally, I’m in the group that prefers not to have to work very many seams or weave in many ends. Because of my proclivity to seamless knits, I tend to use the Three Needle Bind Off is a method of creating a neat seam as you bind off your work, so there is no sewing of the seam!

Now, if you are one of the knitters that enjoys seaming your work (like my mom), knowing how and when to use a Three Needle Bind Off can help make your finished objects have a beautiful and precisely finished seam.


For this example, I’m using Red Heart With Love Yarn in Mallard and a size 9, 16″ circular needle.  You will also need at least one more size 9 needle, I would recommend novice knitters use 3 needles, but more experienced knitters will be able to bind off from the 16-inch circular needle using just one DPN (as the right-hand needle).

To get to the point where you bind off, I’ve used the Handy Business Card Case instructions for the first 15 rows:

Cast on 5 sts.
Row 1 (Wrong Side): Working back and forth in rows, purl.
Row 2: K1, k1-f/b, k1, k1-f/b, k1 – 7 sts.
Row 3: Purl.
Row 4: K1, k1-f/b, k3, k1-f/b, k1 – 9 sts.
Row 5: Purl.
Row 6: K1, k1-f/b, k1, cast off 3 sts, k1-f/b, k1 –8 sts.
Row 7:P4, cast on 3 sts, p4 – 11 sts.
Row 8:K1, k1-f/b, k7, k1-f/b, k1 – 13 sts.
Row 9:Purl.
Row 10:K1, k1-f/b, k9, k1-f/b, k1 – 15 sts.
Row 11:Purl.
Row 12:K1, k1-f/b, k11, k1-f/b, k1 – 17 sts.
Row 13:Purl.
Row 14:K1, k1-f/b, k13, k1-f/b, k1 – 19 sts.
Row 15:Purl.

Continue increasing until you have 23 stitches on your needle (using more stitches should allow you to work the entire project on the 16 inch circular):

Row 16:K1, k1-f/b, k15, k1-f/b, k1 – 21 sts.
Row 17:Purl.
Row 18:K1, k1-f/b, k17, k1-f/b, k1 – 23 sts.
Row 19:Purl.

Row 20 will be the round where you cast on (using the backward loop method), place a marker, and join to work in the round (being careful not to twist your work).

Work in the round until the knit envelope is as long as you would like it.  Mine measures 7 1/4″ from the cast on point.  Because we are ADDING a Three Needle Bind Off to this pattern, we do have to do a little extra work to get the right side to look precisely finished.  After your work is the length that you want you will need to work an additional 23 stitches.  We will do this so that the “V’s” show in the front of the work and the “bumps” are on the back of the envelope.

At this point, you will separate your stitches so that you can knit the front and back stitches together.  Beginners should put 23 stitches on 2 DPNs and more advanced knitters can use both sides of the circular needle:

Now, using another DPN, go through the back of both of the loops on the left-hand needles:






Next you will catch your yarn around the back and bring it through both of the loops on the 2 left-hand needles:

Then you will take both of the loops off of the left-hand needle, resulting in one stitch on the right-hand needle:

Repeat these steps so that you have 2 stitches on the right-hand needle:

Next, as with a normal Bind Off, you pass the first stitch on the right-hand needle over the 2nd stitch:

Repeat these steps across the row:

Until you come to the final stitch on the right-hand needle:

Cut your yarn and thread the tail through the last stitch.

To finish this envelope, just weave in the ends and sew on a 2″ button. Voilà!

A couple of things to keep in mind if you are ADDING a Three Needle Bind Off to a pattern that does not give you explicit instructions to use it:

  • To keep the “V’s” on the right side of your work and the “bumps” on the “back” of the work, make sure you start the 3 needle bind off with the right side facing you.
  • A Three Needle Bind Off is best used to close 2 sets of “live stitches” such as the front and back of a pillow worked in the round, a sock seam, or as the bottom of an enclosure like an envelope or the hot water bottle cozy.