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Tuesday, 11 August 2015



Pockets are easy to knit, but it all starts to get a little more complicated if you want them to look as if they are almost organic, as if they have just grown easily on the garment.

Attention to detail becomes important when deciding where to place the pocket, how to attach it and, if there is a lining, how to make it invisible. A lining should be mysterious, it should never be evident on the right side of the garment.

When using a knitting pattern, the directions for the pockets are there for you. If you have knitted a garment of your own design, you have decide what to do and how to make it look good. Either way, there is an inbuilt helper. The rows and lines of stitches form a grid, and that is a graph that you can easily follow. You don’t have to measure, just count the stitches and rows.

Some pockets are knitted as a part of the garment, others are knitted separately and attached afterwards. The positioning is important.

Pockets are usually set near the side seam, or right on, or even over, the side seam. They are placed above the hem band or at a distance longer than the depth of the pocket from the hem. The top of the pocket should be in a natural position in relation to where your hands would be comfortable when you put them into the pocket. Too high feels and looks wrong, too low only suits orangutans.

Sometimes pockets are a design feature on the top of the garment, and these also have to be placed in a functional position. Make sure that the pocket is a reasonable distance from the shoulder, and keep in mind what will be under the pocket when you set the position. Large breasted ladies need very carefully placed pockets so that no extra size is added, and make sure that the pockets don’t land on an unfortunate spot.

Keep pockets in good proportion. On a big garment, a tiny pocket can look just plain silly.

If the pocket has been separately knitted or will be added by being picked up and knitted on, mark out the shape and position of the pocket with contrasting coloured threads or safety pins. Remember when positioning the marking that a stitch on either side of the pocket will disappear when the pocket is stitched in place. Marking will help set the perfect spot, and clearly shows where to work the seams to attach the pocket [pic 1].

1: Mark the size and shape of the pocket exactly where it will be placed.

Make sure that the position matches exactly if there are pockets on each side of a garment. One row or stitch out of balance can show up like a neon light.

The base of a pocket should sit straight on a horizontal row, and the easiest way to make sure of this is to pick up stitches along a row of the garment in the position that you have chosen, and then complete the pocket [pic 2].

2: Pick up stitches along a horizontal row for the start of a patch pocket.

On the second row of knitting, increase one stitch on the first stitch and second last stitch. These stitches allow for the stitch that form the seams on each side [pic 3].

3: The increase stitch marks the corner of the pocket. The first stitch on each side of the pocket has disappeared into the seam.

Join the connecting threads between the first and second stitches from each side of the pocket to the matching rows of the closest vertical lines on each side of the pocket [pic 4].

4: Attaching the pocket.

If you have left long ends when picking up the stitches and casting off the top of the pocket, they are in the right place to use for attaching the pocket. Join from the base of the pocket to the top, and then, making sure that the top starts on the correct row, work the second side seam to the base of the pocket [pic 5].

5: The pocket in place: the horizontal and vertical rows have been followed for the seams and the pocket is perfectly straight.

When the pocket is a separately knitted patch, it is worked in almost the same way as a knitted on pocket. Remember when marking out the shape that a stitch on each side of the pocket will disappear into the seam [pic 6].

6: The end stitches have been taken up by the seam inside the pocket.

Starting at the top of the pocket, join row to row to the bottom of the pocket, then match stitch to stitch across the base row, then row to row from the base to the top of the second side of the pocket [pic 7].

7: Matching stitch to stitch along a horizontal row at the base of a separately knitted patch pocket.

To work a horizontal set-in pocket, knit to the position of the pocket top. Place the knitted stitches on a stitch holder, and, with a new end, knit the required number of stitches for the width of the pocket. Then place the remaining stitches on another stitch holder [pic 8].

8: Keeping unused stitches on stitch holders, work the pocket lining.

Knit the pocket lining, which should be twice the length needed for the depth of the pocket, finishing at the end nearest to the first stitch holder. After checking to make sure that the depth when doubled back is enough to accommodate a hand, transfer the stitches on the first stitch holder to a needle. Knit these stitches, then add the stitches on the second stitch holder. Finish the row and complete the front piece of the garment [pic 9].

9: Tuck the pocket lining in, and knit across all stitches after the lining has been completed.

On the wrong side, stitch each side of the lining together, making the seam as flat as possible to avoid any extra bulk [pic 10].

10: With the lining folded in half, overstitch each side so that the seam is as flat as possible.

A knitted band on the top of the pocket is not essential, but it will make a firm edge and will hide any lining. Pick up stitches along the turn-back edge on the right side and then knit the required number of rows. Cast off evenly and firmly, and stitch in place on each side [pic 11,12,13].

11: (left) Pick up stitches along pocket edge.
12: (right) The finished band.

13: The pocket lining in place on the inside of the garment.

This way of making a lining adds two extra layers of fabric, a bulky lump that is hard to hide. If the yarn for the garment used is very thick, find a fine yarn in a similar colour and use that for the lining. Knit the lining on the same size needles, even though the fabric will be more flimsy. That doesn’t matter, in fact it is an advantage. A knitted band on the top of the pocket will hide the difference in yarn or colour [pic 14].

14: Using a finer yarn for the lining is an advantage because it ensures that the lining will not show on the right side.

On the wrong side, hold the lining away from the garment and iron it separately. Try to flatten it to get rid of bulk [pic 15].

15: Holding the lining away from the garment, iron very heavily to flatten it as much as possible. (This is the only time I would recommend manhandling a piece of knitting!)

Never iron the three layers on the right side because that will make the lining shape stand out on the right side.

Another way to make a horizontal pocket is to make a long buttonhole slit where the top of the pocket will be, and then knit the lining separately and stitch it in place. This will produce exactly the same sort of pocket, but is extra effort for no real reason.

A vertical set-in pocket must be carefully placed. Knit to the start of the bottom of the pocket, leaving the remaining stitches at the end of the needle, and then work short rows until you have reached the top of the pocket [pic 16].

16: Keeping stitches on the ends of the needles, work short rows on one side of the vertical slip pocket.

Finish on a right side row and leave the stitches at the end of the right needle. Using a new end, work the same number of rows, minus one, on the stitches originally on the left needle [pic 17].

17: Starting with a new end, leaving the completed side at the end of the needle, pick up and work the required number of rows on the second side. Finish with a wrong side row. Then knit across all the stitches and complete the piece.

Continuing from the first finished side, work across the remaining stitches and complete the front piece.

Pick up the stitches along the side of the pocket slit to work a band [pic 18].

18: The band picked up and knitted on the side of the pocket slit will cover any lining seam when stitched in place.

Attach the band neatly at each end, and then knit a pocket lining and stitch it in place. Unless the fabric of the garment is VERY thick, don’t try to attach the lining at the top because any stitching will show on the right side. The lining just has to hang inside. The band at the side of the slit will cover where the lining is joined.

Some knitters knit a one layer lining and stitch it into place on the wrong side. However carefully this is done, the line of stitching will still show on the right side. In this case., treat it as a feature.

A pocket set into the side seam is worked in the same way, except that the slit doesn’t have to be knitted, it is just a section of the side seam.

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