Three-needle bind-off

How to knit the three-needle bind-off

I really like the three-needle bind off! It’s a technique for joining two pieces at the same time as you bind off all the stitches. What a timesaver!

The seam created is secure and doesn’t add any unnecessary bulk, and it also looks very tidy!

To try this technique you need:

  • two pieces of knitting, still on the needles
  • three needles
  • yarn to bind off with, preferable the working yarn from one of your knitted pieces

Two of the needles are used to hold your knitting, and the third is used for binding off.

When is this method used?

The three-needle bind-off is useful for a lot of projects. Shortly said it can be used every time your need to seam two pieces that have live stitches, or where you can pick up stitches to bind off.

This includes things like:

  • closing the toe on socks
  • knitting pockets
  • seam cowls
  • closing doll pillows, bean bags and other toys
  • shoulder seams on cardigan and sweaters
  • knitting a double brim on hats

How to knit the three-needle bind-off

I used the provisional cast-on (described in this post) when I made my swatch. I’m binding the stitches in the provisional cast-on at the same time as the stitches at the top of my swatch.

I work the bind off with a dark blue yarn, to make it easier to see against the brownish yarn I used for knitting.


This will make a nice seam between the two edges. Since I bind off the two edges of the same piece here, I’m going to end up with a tube. But the procedure for doing this with two pieces of knitting is exactly the same!

How to hold yarn and needles

Hold your knitting with the right sides together and the needles parallel.

Hold the yarn the same way as you usually do. I knit continental so I have the yarn in my left hand.

It doesn’t matter what size of needle you use to hold the stitches. But, for the third needle size is important as this needle has an impact on how tight the seam/bind-off edge is.

So, if you need your bind off to be looser, switch to a larger needle in your right hand. And if it gets to lose, you switch for a smaller size.

You hold the third needle in your right hand.

Step1:

You will be familiar with the steps as they are the same as for a regular bind off, the difference is that you work with one stitch from each needle instead of just one.

Insert your third needle into the first stitches of both needles, wrap the yarn around your needle as if to knit, and knit the two stitches together.

Do this first step two times the first time. Then only once.

Step 2:

When you have two stitches on your needle pass the one you knitted first over the other and off the needle.

Repeat steps one and two until you’re out of stitches. Then cut your yarn and pull it through the last stitch to fasten it off.

This image shows how the three-needle bind-off looks when it’s done. The upper row shows the seam from the wrong side and the image below shows the seam from the right side. I have done the bind-off seam in blue color just to make it easy to see. Done in the same yarn as the knitting, as you would normally do will make it next into invisible.

Tips for a neat three-needle bind-off

  1. Check that you have an equal number of stitches on both needles.
  2. Be sure to have the right tension. If you bind off to tight your seam will pucker and look less neat. And your garment can feel awkward to wear.
  3. If it’s hard to get the yarn through both stitches, you can try to use a crochet hook instead of a third needle

Reading tips:
––> Learn more about binding off your knitting in this post!
––> Plan your knitting like a pro with these Knitting project sheets!