How To...

Published on September 10th, 2014 | by Amy Kaspar


Learn How to Knit the Picot Bind-Off

We love a picot edging! Perfect for giving a flirty edge to your knitting project. Here, Amy Kaspar gives you a step by step guide to casting off picot-style.  

Are you looking to jazz up that rolled or hemmed edge in stocking stitch? Do you want to make a plain shawl pop with little blips of fun on the outer edge? Do you want to make your fingerless mitts one teeny bit more flirty? Then, have I got the bind-off (or “cast off” for English knitters) for you!

A plain bind-off (cast off)  is a great way to finish a piece, but a picot (pronounced PEE-koh or pe-KOH, depending on where you are in the world) bind-off gives you a little bit of flirt and bobble to rustle up an otherwise plain edge. There are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing this bind-off, but more on that later. Ready?

How to do the picot cast-off - LoveKnitting tutorial

Featured shawl pattern is Leventry by Sarah Jordan

All you need to begin is a live stitch row on a pair of needles in an odd (meaning multiple of two plus one) number of stitches. If you have an even number, it is not the end of the world; your final picot will just be one stitch more wee than the rest of them. Use the compatible size of needles for whatever fabric you are making. The picot bind-off is normal stocking stitches, so you do not need a needle size either five sizes larger or smaller… just use what you would normally use.

The picot bind-off - LoveKnitting blog

The basic instructions for this bind-off are as follows:  cast on two stitches, bind off (cast off) four stitches, place that last stitch back on the left needle. Repeat until you are out of stitches to bind off.

The picot bind-off - LoveKnitting blog

To begin, cast on two stitches using the cable cast-on. The cable cast-on involves sticking your right needle between the first and second stitches on the left needle, without actually inserting the needle into a stitch. Wrap the yarn around the needle as if to knit, pull up the loop through the front, and throw it onto the left hand needle in front of the first stitch. Do this a second time, inserting the needle tip between the just-made stitch and the next stitch on the needle. Two stitches increased.

You may have a jumbled mess on your hands; this is normal-looking because the cable cast-on (well, any cast-on) looks a bit wonky unless there are several stitches in a row.

The picot bind-off - LoveKnitting blog

Next step:  bind off (cast off) four stitches. Use the regular over-the-needle bind-off to which you are accustomed, so knit two stitches, and pull the right stitch (as you face it) over the left stitch on the right needle. Knit a third stitch, and pull that right stitch over the left stitch on the right needle. To get four bind-off stitches, you will have knit a total of five stitches and pulled a total of four stitches over on the right needle. That fifth stitch will be left on the needle.

The picot bind-off - LoveKnitting blog

This brings us to step three:  place that last stitch (the fifth one in the bind-off sequence) back on the left needle. Slip it purlwise. There will be a slight gap between that stitch and the next one on the left needle, which is totally normal.

Then, repeat until you are out of stitches to bind off.

The picot bind-off - LoveKnitting blog

Since the picot bind-off requires you to cast on two stitches for every two you are binding off (cast on two, bind off those two plus the next two), you will need quite a bit of extra yarn for this technique. Make sure you budget for this when you are planning how much yarn you will need.

Also, this is one of those techniques that feels like it takes forever, but its beauty is worth it in the end. If you are knitting on a deadline (baby shower, anyone?), then just keep in mind that this bind-off takes way more time than a normal bind-off. The good news is that once you do two or three picots, you will be in a rhythm.

The picot bind-off - LoveKnitting blog

You do not want to pull the stitches tightly as you go, but in between that second and third bind-off stitch, there will be a gap. You can give this one a little bit of a tug, but again, that little hole is in the middle of the picot and nobody will see it. The harder you tug on your yarn, the less the picots will stick out.

The picot bind-off - LoveKnitting blog

Finally, this will not prevent stocking stitch from rolling. It will still need to be blocked, and if you are feeling extra meticulous, you can pin each and every picot so they pop beautifully on the end of your piece. If you want a more rustic and less machine-made look, you can pin your item just below the picots and just let them fly as they may.

The picot bind-off - LoveKnitting blog

This bind-off can work with either a provisional cast-on or picked up stitches, so you can add picots to pretty much anything. Edges of fingerless mitts? Check! Pizzazz on a collar? Check! Hem on a plain skirt? Check!

There are also several ways to picot bind-off; I wanted to choose one of the easier ones, but if you enjoy this technique, there are plenty of variations on it. You can make the picots larger, you can make bobbles instead of picots (which involves changing the direction of the knitting), or you can even throw a yarnover in there to make that hole you create even larger. The possibilities are endless.

Our video tutorial will guide you through step by step:

Picots are a fun addition to a hemline or edging, and while it may take a bit more time and yarn, the end result will make people think you purchased your knitted item in a boutique. Go ahead… impress your friends!

Want to perfect your knitting skills? Why not explore our Learn to Knit learning hub by clicking here!

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About the Author

Amy lives in Chicago and can either be found knitting, writing about knitting, designing knitted things, or watching professional hockey while knitting. There is also a necessary cup of coffee nearby at all times, Follow her on Twitter @thefiberfriend for more yarny bits.

Last updated: March 23rd, 2018.

23 Responses to Learn How to Knit the Picot Bind-Off

  1. Bonnie Myszka says:

    I love your ideas

  2. Monique says:

    I always read what you write on the love knitting site and you do everything in a nice simple way .knitters are lucky to have you. Once again, well done. Monique

  3. Monique says:

    I always read what you write on the love knitting site and you do everything in a nice simple way, knitters are lucky to have you. Once again, well done. Monique

  4. I’ve crocheted a picot edging but never thought your could cast it off! This is brilliant. Thank you

  5. amanda says:

    would this cast off work for toe up socks, as i always seem to end up casting off too tightly? i will be using it for my fingerless mittens any how, thanks.

    • Amy Kaspar says:

      Miss Amanda…Amy here…I don’t see why you couldn’t use it at the top of a toe-up sock! I would, however, do one row of straight-up stocking stitch between your last rib row and the picot bindoff. This should give you a bit flatter of an edge so your picots don’t get all twisted up.

  6. Caroline Adams says:

    Wow , I am about to do this for a dinosaur fill, and I was a. Little nervous , but now I will have extra conference in doing it

  7. Dana Veach says:

    Anyone who can knit and watch hockey at the same time is an exceptional woman! I’m a life long knitter and an ice hockey fan…but I can only do one or the other at any given time!! That said…this is a lovely little edging, so useful for any number of finishes…thanks for sharing!

  8. Jean Blythe says:

    Very interesting! I want to try this on some fingerless mitts. We all need just a little more fancy in life!

  9. Susan B says:

    Thank you very very much for sharing. Am looking forward to using your picot bind-off as soon as I can. 🙂

  10. Ms Amanda, thank you for showing us how to knit the picot as an edging. I thought it was just used in crocheting. This is another new tip in knitting for me. Again thank you!!

  11. Sally says:

    I love this. I plan on using this bind-off as soon as possible. I just had some hand surgery but will be knitting again in a couple of weeks…..hopefully.

  12. Amy Kaspar says:

    Amy here…so glad you all like it, and I would lvoe to see your finished projects! Feel free to email me at any time. 😉

  13. Jo Black says:

    So So helpful, love your stuff….

  14. Pam says:

    I feel so silly but I can’t figure out how to make this picot edging larger. Can anyone help? Thank you!

    • Amy Kaspar says:

      Miss Pam…Amy here…you can either treat the bind-off like a bobble, or you can increase your number of cast-on stitches. For instance, you can cast on four stitches instead of two, and then bind off six stitches instead of four total. This will give you a more pointy picot. You can also cast on two, knit four and turn work, purl four and turn work, and bind off four. This will give you a more stubby, full picot. Try them both and see which you like better, on a swatch first!

  15. Wendy Norris says:

    Lovely clear instructions. Thank you so much 🙂

  16. Mags says:

    I love your picot bind off, will try it out at next opportunity. Is there a way of casting on in picot as well? Im thinking baby blanket here. A picot edge at top and bottom would be gorgeous.
    Thank you for the great idea.

    • Amy Kaspar says:

      Miss Mags…Amy here…there is a way to picot cast-on. If you search for it, I am sure you can find it…otherwise I will just blog here about it in the next few weeks. Good fortune to you!

  17. Jane Eliza says:

    Thankyou so much for these instructions. I wanted to replace the crochet picot finish for my knitted shawl pattern, and this is perfect. Have only done 4 picots so far, but didn’t want to wait till I’d finished before saying thanks 🙂 🙂

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