Every now and then, you want an after-thought sort of pocket to slip quietly into the side seam of a sweater. It's not what I would do were I planning a pocketed garment from the outset, but when you've gotten your sweater all knit up, and suddenly realize that what you really want is for there to be pockets.
There are a couple of ways to do it. But the best way happens before you sew the side seams.
You could just knit a square, and then sew it in ... bottom edge along the top of the ribbing, one side in the appropriate place on the sweater front, and then the other side craftily into the side seam. But that's a pocket that will pull against the smooth line of the front of the sweater. It'll be obvious.
Nobody wants an obvious pocket. If I wanted an obvious pocket, I'd just sew a patch pocket on the front and be done with it. (Heck, I could be almost subtle and knit up a patch that had the same cable pattern as the front, and sew that on -- it might even look like I meant it). But I don't want a patch pocket.
I want a subtle pocket. And if you're reading this tutorial, you probably want a classy pocket too.
That means we'll be knitting the whole pocket, and slipping it into the side seam (why else did I forgo finishing the sewing up on the sides??). This means that where the pocket sits, there will be three layers of fabric, not just two.
Now, I could just knit a big rectangle, fold it in half and sew up two of the edges and then insert the last open side into the side of my sweater. But the fold won't be a strong as a cast on edge, and will b bulkier than you want it to be. Not only that, but it makes for one extra bit of seam to sew.
Besides, it's not classy. And since my public not only deserves classy, but has asked for a bit of double knitting, I'll double knit this one.
Step one... cast on for the pocket. Me, I cast on forty stitches. It was pretty arbitrary. (You should figure out how wide you want the pocket to be, and using your gauge (which by the time you're ready to sew things up, you should be able to determine by now), determine the right number of stitches.
Step two, work the set up row by purling into the front and back of every stitch. (whoof, 80 stitches!)
Step three, start the double knitting....
Now, there are two ways to do double knitting too. One uses one strand of yarn, the other uses two strands.
The simplest way to do it for this pocket uses one strand. And frankly, there are no benefits to using a second strand, because doing so creates an added complication to keeping one side closed. Thus... for this lesson, we're using one strand of yarn.
So I've got a bunch of stitches on the needle... Half of them will be "front" stitches, and the other half will be "back" stitches.
For the "right side" row, I'm going to knit the front stitches only, and then on the "wrong side" row, I'll work only the back stitches. To get that done, it will go like this:
Row 1: (sl 1 with yarn in front, knit one) repeat. (That slips the back stitches, and works the front stitches, making sure that the yarn runs between the layers of the fabric)
Row two will be equally simple... but you have to decide whether you want a purl side showing or a knit side showing on the back. For a knit side showing, just repeat Row 1! (How easy is that?)
For a purl side showing do this:
Row 2: (sl 1 with yarn in front, purl one) repeat (This time, it slips the front stitches, and works the back stitches, leaving you with a fabric that is double thickness, but invisibly so, since looks like a regular stockinette fabric.)
There, that wasn't so hard, was it?
But wait! If we do it this way, we'll have a lovely double thick piece of fabric -- with two closed sides! That's fine if want to stuff it for a pillow or something, but for a pocket you'd have to turn the piece on it's side, and use what is now the top as the side of the pocket into which one slips ones hand. But what if you wanted the SIDE to be the entrance to the pocket? A side entrance would give you a nice firm bottom edge. (Not to mention a one-to-one ratio for sewing up the seam. I like one-to-one ratios.).' So... I at least want one side of this square to be open while the other side is closed. There is a way to do that.
Let's go with the knit side out option for both sides. Rows 1 and 2 stay the same. Rows 3 and 4 have to be different.
Row 1: (sl 1 with yarn in front, knit one) repeat.
Row 2: (sl 1 with yarn in front, knit one) repeat. (or, if you're going for the purl look, sl1, p1)
Row 3: (p1, sl 1 with yarn in back) repeat. (or, if you're going for the purl look, k1, sl1)
Row 4: (p1, sl 1 with yarn in back) repeat.
Repeat these four rows (being careful to hold the yarn so that it will run between the fabrics you're making) until your pocket is large enough and you'll have the open side to work with..
As we progress, we soon discover some of the fun of double-knitting. Here we see the point when we can truly tell that we've actually made a double layer of fabric. At this point, a tube....
It's big enough to put my finger in...
So, soon, after perhaps another inch of double-knitting, we come to the point where we wonder whether doing things this way is any thing more than a parlor trick. And frankly, at this point for this type of pocket -- no, it's not. For other types of pockets.... it is worth it. But for this one... not so much.
Now, the double knitting has not been a total waste of time. The value here comes with the firm start we got with casting on and then increasing to the full needed width. But since the benefit of that firm edging has been accomplished, there's not a whole lot of benefit for the continued fiddliness of double-knitting. So we'll cheat for a faster pocket completion.
When you hit this point, you can do what I do .... I'll work one row by working one stitch, and just slipping the next one off the needle ....
If you've got slippery or uncooperative yarn (unlike my lovely Galway, which is staying right where I put it), you might want to grab a second needle, and instead of slipping the alternate stitches off into the breeze, you can slip them onto the second needle. Work and slip all the way to end of the needle, and you'll find yourself with this:
Next step for the cheat.... put those stitches the other end of your happy circular needle.
If you made a mistake, when you open the tube, you may find something horrid like this:
This kind of mistake is the bad kind. This means that somewhere, I turned around and started working stitches instead of slipping them. If it were two strands going across -- it would mean that I'd forgotten to get the yarn between the two sides when slipping. I could fix that by dropping a stitch down and do a little adjusting. In this case... I have to rip back a couple of rows. Oh well. It gives me a chance to show you what the bad thing looks like.
For the pocket cheat, you just go ahead and work back and forth until your pocket is the size you want it to be.
Piece of cake. With one caveat -- for awhile, you'll work with a little magic-loop action around the end of the pocket...
but eventually it will be easy to skip that part. Before you skip that part, be sure to put a marker in. You'll need to know where the center is because we'll be doing a three-needle bind off from the center.
Continue until your pocket is big enough. For me, that was forty (40) rows.
Then, you have a choice to make. Yes, even before you bind off, you should make this decision.
No matter what we do, the pocket lining is going to show at some point. .. So, do you want the knit side to show?
Or the purl side to show.
I've decided that I want the knit side to show. All that remains is binding off and sewing in the new pocket. (Well, okay, making a second pocket and sewing that one in too, but you won't need to watch me do that one).
Because I chose to have the knit side be the inside (and therefore visible side) of the pocket, I worked one side, (or half way across the pocket, stopping where a marker ought to be if you're cheating), then turned the pocket so that the "right" (or stockinette) sides were together and the "wrong" (or reverse stockinette) sides were showing. Then, from the inner corner, I worked a three needle bind off, ending with the tail at the open side of the pocket. You've seen the three-needle bind off before, so I won't repeat that stuff here.
Here, you see the pocket. I made mine rather trapezoidal, because I'm a tad worried about having enough yarn.
Having decided that I want the knit sides to be the insides of the pockets, this is the way it needs to be once "installed." I will, however, need to turn the pocket inside out for a while to make seaming things easier.
Before we begin sewing, we'll need to mark the spot to put the pocket. Since this is an after thought sort of thing, the easiest way to do it is to put on the sweater (with it's open funny side seams) and figure out where you think it would be most comfortable to have them. Put a marker at the point where you'd like the bottom of the pocket to be.
The next step is a bit tedious, but ... it works and makes sure that both pockets are in the same place, and that they fit properly. Count the number of rows in your pocket. Yes, I know. But do it anyway. Then, count that many rows up from the marker, and mark that spot.
This is where your pocket is going to fit. If you've not already done so, sew your side seam to one of those markers, then grab the pocket. Since we're continuing on with our friend the mattress stitch, we'll want "right" sides facing us. In the case of the pocket, the "right" side is the inside.
Then, instead of sewing the back to the front, sew the front edge of the pocket to the front sweater piece. Here I am a few stitches in, just before I snug up the mattress stitch.
I apologize for the apparent shifting of yarn colors. It's actually all the same sweater, but the sun kept moving as I worked, and the camera settings that were perfect one minute were all wrong four minutes later.
Here I am, half way through sewing the pocket to the front of the sweater. I just love how smoothly a nice mattress stitch seam finishes... don't you.
When you've finished the first side of the pocket, it will look rather like this!
This is where that lovely tail left over from the three-needle bind off comes into play. You'll go back to the top (or bottom I suppose) of the pocket, where you first switched from sewing the back to the front and started sewing the pocket to the front. Once again, bring the yarn through that seam, and insert the needle in the spot where you last came out on the back edge (just before you abandoned the back). Now, continue on, sewing the back of the pocket to the back of the garment.
Then finish sewing the side seam (back to front) as if you'd never paused to play with pockets.
And, voila! you now have a pocket tucked into the side seam of your sweater! Here's an inside view.
Weave in the ends, and pull the pocket back in-side in, and it looks even better...
It's mighty tempting to call it a day at this point, but I urge you not to. The last thing we want is for our lovely wee pocket to start to droop, and then peek out below the ribbing. If we were in the Deep South, we'd call that "trashy". So, we take one extra little step on the inside, and "tack" the upper inside corner of the pocket loosely to the front of the sweater.
Weave in a bit of an end (and if you happened to do that three-needle-bind off from the outside edge in, us that same end here). It needn't be insanely secure, but do bear in mind, this will have to withstand some pulling.
Then, leaving an inch or two of yarn free, catch a stitch or two of the front, as though weaving in the end there. Without cutting the yarn, leave the same amount of yarn loose, and weave the ends into the point of the pocket.
Yes, it looks a little odd on the inside,
But no where near as odd as a pocket point hanging out below your bottom ribbing! And it doesn't show at all from the outside.
(and the lighting in the bathroom? atrocious!) It may take a bit of steaming or blocking to get it just right, but not much. And that, of course, is very yarn dependent.
Voila, I say again. A lovely pocket.
I think I'll keep it.