Seamless Pockets

A few years ago, before I was married and breeding, I had the opportunity to go to a “knitting camp” run by one of the members of a knitting group I was in. There were several memorable things about knitting camp (the food comes to mind… in a very, very good way), but one knitting-related technique that I picked up there which I use all the time is double-knit pockets. It was taught the second day as a sort of time filler, I think, but I love it.

OK, I’ve said this before: I hate seaming. These pockets are seamless. That’s their main appeal. But they also look really good, and they’re a little bit challenging (therefore fun). The technique we learned that weekend was for pockets with an open top, which I thought was a perfect modification for Gudrun Durham’s Shalder cardigan, which I knitted shortly thereafter (to date my favourite sweater I’ve knitted for myself).

I almost immediately unvented an adaptation to make pockets with a diagonal opening and closed top like you usually find on zip-front hoodies (which I’ll describe in a bit). I closed the top by knitting the front and back stitches together, which is fine, but I always find the top looks a bit loose. While I was looking for other methods to close the top, I came across this video from Lucy Neatby, which deals with seamlessly attaching the sides of some garter stitch edging she’s added to the tops of her pockets. I wish I’d discovered that technique before I knitted my Shalder, but it gave me an idea to close the tops of my hoodie pockets.


Double-knit pockets with diagonal side openings

So, in this post: how to make simulataneous (double-knit) seamless pockets with a diagonal side opening. Then, in my next post: how to close the tops firmly (which I’m going to call chain stitch pocket top closure).

Seamless Pockets for a Hoodie

The idea with double-knit pockets is that you have stitches for the front and back of the pocket interleaved on your needles, but you only work one side at a time (slipping every other stitch with the yarn on the appropriate side so the sides don’t get woven together). It’s not as hard as it sounds: after the first few rows it’s obvious which stitches are which stitches are which. These instructions are for working back and forth, but you can absolutely do these pockets in the round.

  1. Place markers on either side of your pocket.
  2. On an RS row: K to the first marker, sm, (m1,sl1 wyif) to next marker, m1, turn. I find that things get pretty tight, so you might want to go down 2 or 3 needle sizes for this part. Or do your m1’s without twisting. I’ve done both, and I’m not sure which I prefer.
  3. Go back to your gauge needle if you were using a smaller needle. This is where you work the pocket back: (sl1 wyif, p1) to 1 st from marker, sl1 wyif, turn.
  4. Work the pocket front stitches: (k1,sl1 wyif) to 1 st from marker, k1, sm, k to end.
  5. Next row (WS): P to marker, sm, (sl1 wyif, p1) to 1 st from marker, sl1 wyif, sm, p to end.
  6. Next row: K to marker, sm, (k1,sl1 wyif) to 1 st from marker, k1, turn; (sl1 wyif, p1) to 1 st from marker, sl1 wyif, turn; (k1,sl1 wyif) to 1 st from marker, k1, sm, k to end.

Repeat these last two rows until you’re ready to create the side opening, finishing after a WS row. Makes sense? You work two pocket rows for every two garment rows, but both of the pocket front rows are worked before you complete the first garment row.

Now, to create the opening you just have to switch the order up a bit so that the front of the pocket is attached to the garment on one side or the other.

For a left pocket: On the next (RS) row: K to marker, sm, (sl1 wyib, k1) to 1 st from marker, sl1 wyib, turn; (p1, sl1 wyib) to 1 st from marker, p1, turn; (k1, sl1 wyif) to 1 st from marker, k1, sm, k to end.

For a right pocket: On the next (RS) row: K to marker, sm, (k1, sl1 wyif) to 1 st from marker, k1, turn; (p1, sl1 wyib) to 1 st from marker, p1, turn; (sl1 wyib, k1) to 1 st from marker, sl1 wyib, sm, k to end.

WS rows are worked in the same way as the bottom of the pocket in both cases.

This creates a vertical opening. If you want a diagonal instead, you need to rearrange your stitches or use a cable needle so that you can ssk or k2tog near the opening on the pocket front rows worked on the RS (I’d work it so there’s one selvedge stitch at the opening, then the decrease).


A pullover hoodie pocket (open on both sides)

You can knit a pullover hoodie pocket in the same way up to the point where you create the side opening, but because you need to keep both sides open you can’t knit it simultaneously from that point on. I put the pocket front on a separate needle at that point and work it back and forth with decreases at either edge to the length I want using another ball of yarn, then go back to the main garment piece and work it to the same length after. Then you can still use the chain stitch closure method at that point.

Next up: how to (firmly) close the top of a pocket that’s open on one or both sides! But now a baby beckons…


3 thoughts on “Seamless Pockets

  1. Pingback: How to close pocket tops | boyknits

  2. Thanks for the tutorial. I’ve tried it Howe and the double knitting is fused together! Is your pocket decorative or am I doing something wrong? Thanks!


    • Nope, you’ve done something a little off… Did you do the cardigan version or the pullover? Just to be clear, the bottom part (before the decreases) is closed at the edges. But once you get to the diagonals it should stay open at the sides. My mom was struggling a bit with my instructions and I suggested she transfer the 6 stitches at the edge to 2 DPNs (3 front stitches to one, 3 back to the other) when working them so that she could work the decrease on the front without worrying about rearranging stitches. Once you’ve worked the decrease, return the 5 stitches to the right needle (alternating back and front stitches) and keep working across the pocket. This is for the right edge: for the left, do the same thing when you get to 6 stitches from the end of the pocket.

      I might have written clearer instructions for my mom, so if you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me know, I’ll see if I can do better!


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