Pockets! Who doesn’t love pockets? I recall many window- and online-shopping occasions of finding a cute dress and then being delighted upon learning that it has pockets. It’s always a fun surprise when a garment has functional pockets that work really well with the design. On the flip side, I think the idea of knitted pockets in a sweater pattern can be a little scary, especially if one has never tried them before. Fortunately, Kiyomi Burgin has come to our pocket rescue in knitscene Winter 2015, where she explains how to finish pockets using her Queen Street Sweater from the same issue. No need to fear, pocket-knitters!
Finishing Those Pockets
and Gaining the Confidence to Finish Anything
This might sound familiar: You’ve spent hours, possibly weeks, or even months, inching through complicated colorwork charts, meticulously counting stitches over rows of intricate lace or diligently stitching up miles of stockinette stitch. And it’s finally done. Except for one final step—FINISHING!
The number of times I’ve heard of knitters abandoning their beautiful hard work at the finishing stage makes me sad. How can it be they would rather give up than face the final seams, pick up a neckline, set in a sleeve, or complete a pocket?!
Don’t give it up—instead, arm yourself with the right resources, tools, and mindset, and you will discover finishing is not difficult or painful. When the metamorphosis of your time, energy, and gorgeous yarn results in beautiful form, well, it’s nothing short of wondrous.
The Queen Street Sweater is a very simple design, so do not be intimidated by the pockets. The goal of this tutorial is to provide the techniques to complete the slit pockets so they will fold effortlessly into the garment, giving your pullover a clean finish, and make all that stockinette stitch worthwhile. These techniques can be used for other knit projects as well.
Before you get started, block the front piece of your project so that everything is flat and is easy to see (Figure 1). Although this is optional, I highly recommend it. Find a well-lit, flat work surface, and let’s get started!
NOTE: All instructions are for the left pocket. I have used a plain yarn for some steps here to clearly show techniques.
STEP 1: PICK UP THE STITCHES
For this step, you will first be picking up stitches along the cast-on edge of the upper pocket flap. This area will be visible if the pocket is open or gapes a bit while wearing, so you want to create the illusion that it is a continuous piece of knitting and that there is no cast-on edge. With right side facing, insert the needle tip into the “V” of each stitch just below the cast-on edge and pull yarn through (Figure 2 and 2a). Repeat this in every stitch along cast-on edge until you reach the corner gap.
Now you will be picking up stitches along the side (selvedge edge) of the lower pocket flap. Skip over the corner gap (don’t worry, it will close once you start knitting) and pick up stitches in the spaces between the purl bars one stitch from the edge. I recommend picking up three stitches for every four rows. Once all stitches have been picked up, knit your pocket flap to its required depth.
STEP 2: CLOSE THAT BOTTOM
After you’ve knitted enough rows for the depth of your pocket, turn your work to the wrong side as carefully as you can (since you still have live stitches on your needles; you don’t want to lose any at this step).
Now it’s time to do a three-needle bind-off. Arrange your stitches so there is an even number at each end of your circular needle. If you find straight or double-pointed needles easier to manage, you can change needles. Now you’re ready to work the three-needle bind-off (Figure 3). See how it’s done at www.knittingdaily.com/Glossary.
If a three-needle bind-off isn’t appealing, skip the previous step, and bind off all stitches as usual, then whipstitch the bottom closed. Alternatively, graft the live stitches using Kitchener stitch to close the bottom. Do this with the right side of the work facing.
STEP 3: SEW UP THE SIDE OPENING
Thread a long piece of yarn onto a tapestry needle and, with the right side facing and starting at the pocket flap bottom, sew the remaining side of pocket closed using mattress stitch. Mattress stitch is my favorite! It creates a beautiful invisible seam and isn’t hard to do. See more detailed instructions at www.knittingdaily.com/Glossary.
At first you will be sewing row to row, then it will change to bound-off stitches to rows. For the latter, insert needle behind “V” of stitch just below bound-off edge. On the other side, alternate between picking up one or two bars (Figure 4). Don’t pull too tight! When using single-ply yarns such as Noro Silk Garden Solo, you might want to add extra twist to the yarn by rolling the threaded tapestry needle in your hands in the direction that the yarn is spun. This will give the yarn a bit more strength for seaming.
STEP 4: ONE LAST STEP
Tuck pocket to the wrong side of work, weave in any ends, and let out a big sigh with relief because your first slit pocket is done (Figures 5 and 6)! Congratulate yourself and know that you are a superstar knitter. Your knitting and non-knitting friends alike are sure to be impressed by those pockets. And if your finishing job isn’t quite as perfect as imagined, no worries. As much as I’m a stickler for finishing, I still believe that slight imperfections are what make handmade garments special and unique. Washing and blocking your sweater again will help even out stitches. Also, textural yarns such as Noro Silk Garden Solo are very forgiving since they camouflage any little mishaps. ❤
Kiyomi Burgin lives in Toronto, Canada, where she helps knitters find yarns and figure out techniques at Romni Wools. Keep up with Kiyomi and all her artistic pursuits at www.kiyomiburgin.com.
Thanks for that awesome pocket tutorial, Kiyomi!
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Knitscene Winter 2015 Print Issue; Free Knitting Pattern with Purchase
The design of this sweater is the ultimate combination of clever construction and easy knitting.