Perfect finishing techniques – part 6

In part six of our masterclass series from Judy Furlong, we will look at the sixth stage of giving your knitting project a professional finish: Three-Needle Cast-Off.

 three-needle cast-off.

Previously we looked at stages one to five of giving your knitting projects a perfect finish: 

1. Preparation

2. Tidy up 

3. Block 

4. Interim making up – false grafting version 1

5. Interim making up – false grafting version 2


This is the shoulder join I find most universally useful. The method shown here is for creating perfect matching stripes, but the cast-off is the same even if working with one colour only – just ignore the references to colour changes.

As shown above, slip second set of sts onto a spare needle, hold both pieces with RS together, needle tips aligned and facing to the right.

Perfect finish stage 6 pic2With a third needle, and appropriate shade of yarn, knit together the first sts from the front and back needle.

Knit together the second sts. 

Perfect finish stage 6 pic 4Bring 1st st on RH needle over the second st to cast off in the usual way.

Perfect finish stage 6 pic 5Continue until all sts are cast off, remembering to change yarns as required.

If the shoulders are shaped, it is necessary to adjust the pattern to work short rows rather than cast off over a number of rows. If for example, the instructions for the back of a basic cardigan say ìcast off 5 sts every row four timesî, instead, work short rows as follows:

Row 1 (RS): Knit to last 5 sts, wrap next st, turn. Row 2 (WS): Purl to last 5 sts, wrap next st, turn.

Row 3: Knit to last 10 sts (this includes the 5 that were left last time), wrp1, turn Row 4: Purl to last 10 sts, wrp1, turn. Slip these shoulder sts (10 sts either side in this case) onto waste yarn until you are ready to join the shoulders. At this point slip the sts back onto the needles and work a three-needle cast-off until the first set of wrapped sts.

The bars from the wraps must also be worked or they will show on the RS.

Perfect finish stage 6 pic 6Pick up the bar made by the wrap and slip it onto needle.


Perfect finish stage 6 pic 7Insert RH needle tip through both loops on the front needle and then into bar of piece on second (back) needle.

Perfect finish stage 6 pic 8Knit all four loops together.


Picking up sts around a neck can be another danger area. Going back to a basic cardigan example, let’s assume the front band was knitted along with the body, so slip these sts back on to a RH needle. Rejoin yarn and pick up sts around the neck.

We have already talked about back neck sts in stage one of this masterclass series. If you elected to keep them ‘live’ and are now regretting it as you watch your cardigan being stretched and pulled out of shape, a hand-stitched piece of soft tape, spanning the neck edge between the ends of the two shoulder seams, should sort the problem.

Next week we will look at stage seven of creating a perfect finish: Final Make Up, including a step-by-step guide to mattress stitch version 1.

The final post in this masterclass will be stage 8: Check, Neaten and Press

Knitting expert Judy FurlongAbout our expert

Judy Furlong is a widely respected knitwear designer, known for the tailored finishing on her garments and her fine eye for detail. She regularly writes masterclasses and patterns for The Knitter.