Pockets—Part 4 by Suzanne Bryan

Pockets—Part 4 by Suzanne Bryan

This is the fourth article in a series on creating pockets on your projects. The series started with the easiest pockets and will work up to the more advanced pockets.

The first two articles focused on afterthought pockets added to the right side of the fabric. You can find those articles in the Winter 2021–22 Cast On and the Spring 2022 Cast On. The third article focused on an afterthought pocket added to the wrong side of the fabric, and you can find that article in the Summer 2022 Cast On.

Pockets—Part 4 will focus on a planned horizontal inserted pocket, worked on the wrong side with a single-sided lining. At the end of the article, there are directions for creating the sample used in this article if you would like to make a practice swatch.

Pros and Cons of Planned Horizontal Inserted Pockets with Single-Sided Linings


  • If your main project fabric is highly textured or patterned, these pockets are the least likely to interfere with the main fabric design.
  • The single lining is less thick than the double lining discussed in the last issue.
  • The bind off for the pocket top is firm and is less likely to stretch out of shape over time


  • The pocket must be planned.
  • The single lining is not as warm as the previously discussed double lining

Steps for Planned Horizontal Inserted Pockets (Level 2)

  1. During the knitting of the project, the size and placement of the pocket must be planned.
  2. Plan the opening, keeping in mind that you will be adding a few rows above the opening for the ribbing or other pocket top treatment.
  3. Using waste yarn, knit across the area where the pocket opening will be. Slide the waste yarn stitches back to the left needle. Then finish the project.
  4. Block your project.
  5. Create pocket opening by removing the waste yarn.
  6. Work the lining.
  7. Work the pocket upper edging.
  8. Steam block the pocket.

If you want your pocket fabric to match the project fabric, you will want to match the stitch and row gauge.

Adjust for Stitch Equivalency between Project and Lining Fabrics

In most cases, an inserted pocket lining is worked in stockinette stitch. If the project fabric has a different stitch gauge than the pocket lining, you will want to calculate your stitch equivalency. For example, if the project fabric is a cable pattern and has a stitch gauge of 8 stitches to the inch, and your lining fabric has a stitch gauge of 5 stitches to the inch, you will want to compensate for this difference. You can make an adjustment in the first row/round of the lining by working 3 sets of k2tog, evenly distributed in each inch of fabric. This will reduce the 8 stitches/inch of the cable pattern to 5 stitches/inch of the stockinette stitch fabric for the lining. You will need to calculate your own stitch equivalency based on your project fabric and lining fabric stitch gauges.

Working the Planned Horizontal Insert Pocket

This is a photo of the planned horizontal insert pocket with the waste yarn stitches marking the pocket opening. These stitches will be referred to as “waste yarn stitches” throughout, to differentiate them from the “waste yarn” that will be used to temporarily hold the live pocket opening stitches.

Now you are ready to create the pocket opening. You can see the stitches that you worked in the waste yarn. You are now going to place the stitches above and below those stitches on needles or strands of waste yarn. I prefer using double pointed needles for this purpose.

Start with the stitches below the waste yarn stitches and pick up the right leg of each stitch in the row below the waste yarn stitches. Now, with a separate needle or strand of waste yarn on a tapestry needle, pick up the right leg of each stitch above the waste yarn stitches, including one extra stitch at the left edge. For our example here, we will have 18 lower stitches picked up, and 19 upper stitches picked up.

Remove the waste yarn stitches.

Knitting the Pocket Lining

Carefully rearrange the needle holding the upper live stitches so that the points of the needle are on the wrong side of the fabric. In our example here, there are 19 stitches on this needle. Using a separate strand of waste yarn on a tapestry needle, outline the area on the wrong side of the fabric where the lining will be worked. This area should be 19 stitches wide and as deep as you want the finished pocket to be. In the example shown in the photo below, you can see that the waste yarn has been run through every other “smile” down both sides. These “smiles” (the strands between the columns of stitches) will be where you will be attaching the pocket lining sides as you work the lining.

Start the Lining

Using your working yarn, measure out 2 yards of yarn. Do not cut from the ball. This yarn will become the pocket front after you finish the lining.

Using the working yarn, start the lining:
Row 1: Place the live stitches on your working needle. Starting with the tip of the working needle on the left, purl to the end of the row (this will start the reverse stockinette fabric for the pocket lining).
Row 2 and all RS rows: Knit.

Row 3 and all following WS rows: With the tip of the left needle, lift the first smile from bottom to top onto the left needle.

Knit this smile together with the first stitch on the left needle as a k2tog. Knit until 1 stitch remains, then slip this stitch to the right needle as if to knit. With the tip of the left needle, pick up the smile that is on the waste yarn, from top to bottom. Work this smile together with the slipped stitch as an ssk.

Continue working Rows 2 and 3 until you have reached the desired length of the pocket lining. End after a Row 2. Cut the yarn, leaving a tail 12 inches long. Thread the tail onto a tapestry needle.

Now you are ready to graft the lining to the project fabric. You will be grafting purl stitches to purl stitches.

Step 1: With the wrong side facing you and the live stitches on the left needle, take the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the needle as if to knit, leaving the stitch on the left needle, then proceed to the project fabric stitch just above the waste yarn marking thread. With the tapestry needle go up under the smile, then move to the smile just to the left and go down, pulling the tail through.
Step 2: Take the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the left needle as if to purl and allow it to come off the left needle, go through the next stitch on the left needle as if to knit and leave this stitch on the left needle. Pull the tail through.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until all live stitches have been grafted to the project fabric. Weave in the tail.

Now return to the right side of the fabric.

Pull the previously measured-out yarn to the right side of the fabric. Place the lower live stitches on your working needle.

You are now ready to work the pocket top. Note—you have 18 stitches on your needle and if you would like to work a 1×1 ribbing, it is preferable to have an odd number of stitches, to balance the stitches across the row. Therefore, somewhere along this row, substitute a k2tog for one knit stitch.

Start the Pocket Front

Work in K1P1 ribbing (working one k2tog at some point), starting and ending with a knit stitch.
Row 1(WS): Slip 1 stitch, point to point, work in K1P1 ribbing until 1 stitch remains, slip 1 stitch, point to point.
Row 2: With the tip of the left needle pick up the right leg of the project fabric knit stitch 2 rows above the lining fabric, in line with the stitch on the left needle. Work this leg together with the first stitch on the left needle as a k2tog. Continue in ribbing pattern until 1 stitch remains. Slip this stitch, as if to knit, to the right needle. With the left needle pick up the left leg of the stitch in the project fabric 2 rows above where the lining starts. Work this together with the slipped stitch as an ssk.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 for desired length, usually just a few rows. Bind off firmly in pattern. Weave in the tail.

Finished Pocket

Practice Swatch

The swatch in this lesson used worsted weight yarn and a US 7 (4.5mm) needle.

Project Swatch

CO 30 sts.
Starting with a WS row, work 23 rows in St st, ending after a WS row.
Knit 6 sts. Using waste yarn, knit 18 sts. Move the 18 sts back to the left needle, and continue with working yarn across the waste yarn sts to the end of the row.
Work 11 more rows.
BO. Weave in ends and block.

Insert spare smaller needles through the sts above and below the waste yarn row. Insert the top needle through one extra st at the left edge. Cut the center st of the waste yarn row and pick out the 9 sts on either side.

Follow above instructions for working the pocket lining for 18 rows. Graft the lining to the project fabric as described above.

Turn to the front of the fabric and work the ribbing as described above.
Weave in end and block.

Here is a YouTube playlist with videos of the techniques used in this article.
Or you can use this QR code:

Pockets—Part 5 will cover diagonal patch pockets and diagonal knitted on pockets.


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