Ever had a sweater or a vest and wished it had pockets? Were you ever knitting a sweater that you wanted to have pockets, but weren't sure where to place them? The afterthought pocket is the perfect solution to these problems. Below I'll show you how to make an afterthought pocket using a knit pocket bag as well as a pocket bag made of woven material. You will need something to mark your pocket edges, good sharp scissors, dpn or straight needles, and if you are going to make a pocket bag of woven material you will need your fabric and sewing supplies.
The first step in an afterthought pocket, regardless of bag type, is to figure out where and how wide your pocket should be. You can use safety pins as I have, tailors tacks, open stitch markers, or anything else you can hook onto your knitting to mark the edges of the pocket without damaging your knitting.
Next cut the stitch that is in the exact center of the pocket space you marked in step one. Be very careful to only cut this one stitch and not anything in the row above or below. Then you can unravel this row in both directions back to your markers. Note: It is very important not to cut the yarn you are unraveling. You will weave these in as ends to secure your pocket opening.
If you are working with very slippery thread, such as silk, you might want to pick up these live stitches onto your needles as you unravel the row. However, if you are using a yarn with some grip, such as the wool yarn above, it is easier to unravel the stitches and then pick them up. Just make sure to count your stitches as you are picking them up to make sure you don't loose one.
Now is where our pockets diverge!
Knitted pocket bag: If you are using a knitted pocket bag you will now join the yarn you want to use. It is generally a good idea to use thinner yarn then on the main garment and smaller needles to make a bag that is not too bulky. You want to make sure the fabric you are knitting for your pocket is tight and firm so that it doesn't stretch out of shape or allow small objects to fall out of your pocket!
Once you have the live stitches on the needle you will want to pick up two extra stitches, one at each corner, to ensure there are no holes at the top of your pocket. Now join your yarn and start knitting in the round. You will knit until your pocket is as deep as you would like. For an adult garment this is generally between four and five inches, but I suggest measuring your hand, if this pocket is for your, from your finger tips to your wrist. You will probably find that you like pockets that deep.
Once your pocket is big enough use a three needle bind off to close the pocket, remember knit knit purl purl!
Last step, the pocket welt! Once your pocket bag is complete pick up and knit the stitches at the bottom of your pocket opening. You should have half the number of stitches that were in one of your bag rounds. Note: Everyone will see the pocket welt, so you will want to use either the same yarn as the body of your sweater, or contrasting yarn that is the same size in order to make a fashion statement. Once you're ready it's time to knit the pocket welt. Just knit straight up as long as you want your pocket welt to be deep, usually about an inch, but the choice is yours. Once you are finished knitting bind off all stitches. Use the mattress stitch to sew the sides of the pocket welt to your sweater. Do not sew over the top of the welt or you won't be able to get into your pocket!
Woven pocket bag: If you would like a pocket with minimal bulk and a lot of strength you might want to use a woven fabric for your pocket bag. It begins the same way as the knitted pocket bag. However, once you have the live stitches on your needles you will want to immediately bind off the stitches on the top of your pocket and then knit your pocket welt. Do not sew the welt into place just yet, knit it as deep as you want and then bind off the stitches, but then leave it alone.
Next you will cut out your pocket bag. Cut out two rectangles with a width that equals your pocket opening plus 1/2 inch (1/4 inch seam allowance on each side), and a length that is however deep you would like your pocket bag plus 1/2 inch. See the knit bag instructions above for ideas on how deep you might want to make your pocket.
Now lay one rectangle face down on your sweater below your pocket opening so that the width of your bag lines up with the bottom of your pocket opening, make sure that it is centered. Using either a needle and thread or a sewing machine sew this fabric into place along the bottom of the pocket opening. Do the same thing with the other piece of fabric, Laying it above the pocket opening and sewing it to the top of the pocket opening.
Now you push your pocket bag inside the sweater and turn the whole shebang inside out. Once this is done you can pin the pocket bag right sides together and sew your bag up on all three sides that are not connected to your sweater. Note: You want to sew the bag with rounded corners instead of ninety degree angles as this helps prevent lint and crumb from collecting in the corners. especially if you are like me and have a bad habit of carrying cookies in your pockets.
Once that's done you can sew your pocket welt into place and weave in your ends and you're all done!