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September 15, 2009 / KristenMakes

…An Afterthought Pocket

OK, OK so I’ve been missing from this blog for awhile.  But I’ve still been knitting!  …and I’ve still been blogging.  FOR SHAME!  I’ve been spending my time on a-nother blog?  How dare I?  Well it is withing good reason, I promise.  My husband and I just moved to Scotland, and now that we are finally settling in and getting time to explore, we required a secondary blog with which to keep our friends and family in tune to our frolicks.  Enter, The Daily Scotch.   Beware of the shameless plug for my other blog, that is somehow, NOT about knitting.  Anyway, that has kept me pretty busy, oh, along with the actual moving process and getting to go all about Edinburgh, Scotland to discover new fun things!  So, that pathetic excuse aside, knitterly friends, I am back, and with a pretty good post…  my first HOW-TO!  Wish me luck, and please don’t hate me if my instructions lead you astray, be forwarned this is my first time.

Well, I’ve been working on the Jarrett sweater for TEO from one of my pattern books, Vintage Knits.


Its coming along wonderfully, in fact, by all accounts it is finished. But we (TEO & I) looked at it and though it needed something more. POCKETS! I think patch pockets are great and easy to add after the fact, but I wanted something a little more official-looking; something that said, “I intende for and knitted this pocket from the very beginning” not, “I obviously added this thing afterwards.” I recalled reading from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears  about her so-called, “Afterthought Pocket” which is exactly for these situations. You have a finished garment, decide that you desire an official-looking pocket, and with a little calculated snipping, unraveling, picking-up, and knitting… voila! Pocket!

Rather than getting it wrong and ruining Trent’s perfect, practically finished sweater I thought, rather test this trick out first. And, I had the brilliant idea of photo-documenting if for anyone who cares to see (a remarkable few, I’m sure). If you are going to attempt this, (A) read Elizabeth Zimmerman’s version FIRST. Mine is just meant to show photos, not improve upon her way because it is her way and she explains it loads better than I. (B) Read and comprehend all the steps and images first, so that you get the overall concept of what you are doing.

 Step 1:        

I knitted a stockinette square with a garter border. I marked out, based on gauge and my desired pocket’s size, marked out where I wanted it to be. The top of my pocket, I decided, was to have a rib border which I planned to pick up and knit after the pocket’s completion. Therefore, I marked out where the rib was going to start, and where the rib was going to end (end meaning the bottom of the rib border) was to be where the actual pocket top began. This is important because that was where I am to make my snip for step two. Remember, if you are going to have a pocket on both sides of a sweater, measure the same on both sides, so that they are even.

  CIMG9812 CIMG9815

Step 2:

Hold your breath, because you will be SNIPPING into your sweater, but it will be OK. Measure the very center of where the actual pocket-bag begins (not where the top of the rib band will be if you desire to have one). My pocket is 10 stitches wide so measuring out the row I wanted to begin the pocket, I located between stitches 5 and 6 of the row, and snipped.


Step 3:

Unravel the yarn to the left and the right. You will want to unravel however many stitches wide you want your pocket to be, so that will be one half of the stitches on the left of the snip, and the other half of the stitches on the other side of the snip. You will have live stitches on the row above AND below the row you unraveled. I have a 10-stitch wide pocket, so I have 10 stitches above and 10 below (therefore 20 live stitches total). Pick up those stitches. EZ recommends sock needles but since my yarn was so bulky, I just used size 10 double pointed needles. She says to use 2 needles to pick up the stitches on the top, and 1 needle to pick up the stitches on the bottom. From this point on you will basically be knitting the pocket-bag around.


CIMG9822 CIMG9823


Step 4:

Start with the stitches on the bottom and PURL them, so as to create a “good sharp fold-line” for the pocket edge. When you move around to the stitches on the top needles, knit them, and continue to knit the remainder of the pocket-bag. No more purling. Soon you will have the beginnings of a little pocket that looks like it has been turned out. Continue knitting thus, until your pocket has achieved its desired depth.


CIMG9827 CIMG9828

Step 5:

At this point you can sew the pocket closed but I really like the 3 needle bind off. So I turned the pocket to the inside and bound off using that technique. In the pictures, I purled the bind off rather than knitting, but knitting your 3-needle bind off (I later realized) is fine and in my opinion, preferable. Sew down the bottom of the pocket and weave in any ends. I used my ends to neaten up the top edge of my pocket.

CIMG9832 CIMG9833

CIMG9837 CIMG9834 

Step 6:

If you do not want a rib edge, you are finished, turn it over and admire your handiwork!

CIMG9831 CIMG9836


However, if you, like me, need a border, pick up those stitches (I did a knit 1 purl 1 rib) and knit your border back and forth to its desired length. Sew it down, weave in the ends, and call it a pocket!





Now wish me luck, for I am about to attempt this on the real thing!  Off you go!



Leave a Comment
  1. Mom / Sep 15 2009 8:03 pm

    I am SO impressed with your work. IF I ever knitted a sweater, there’s no way I’d take scissors to it!
    Mom O

  2. Mom / Sep 15 2009 8:27 pm

    Good luck with the real deal! I hope you post the finished product! Sounds very complicated and that snipping thing is scary!!!


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