Knitting smocking stitch

Midweek Masterclass - Smocking Stitch

Smocking stitch lends an impact to any garment and is easier to achieve than it looks. Rosee Woodland explains...

 

11th May 2016

Sometimes even the most seasoned knitter can find a new stitch intimidating. After years of trying out techniques you may decide that you know what you like and stick to it. Nothing wrong with that, but if you think ‘smocked’ panels like this one look rather complicated, don’t be put off.

Taken step by step it’s much more straightforward than it seems. The pattern is repeated over eight rows, with ‘arches’ of stranded yarn forming an alternating pattern every four rows. For every arch there are three strands of cream yarn. Stitches are knitted in both colours at the edge of the fabric to give an even finish.

Securing the edges

When working with two colours of yarn it’s helpful to ‘secure’ both yarns at the edges of the work, to keep the tension as even as possible. 

1 Purl 1 bicolour:  Purl the stitch as normal, but take both colours around the right hand needle before pulling through. 

Purl1 bicolour

2 Knit 1 bicolour: Knit the stitch as normal, but take both colours around the right hand needle before pulling through. 

Knit1 bicolour

Smocking stitch

You will begin stranding the yarn on Row 1 of the stitch pattern, which is a WS row. Ensure that you strand the yarn fairly loosely, with a consistent tension for each row, to avoid any puckering of the fabric.

If you find you are stranding too tightly, try holding a finger between the stranded yarn and the main fabric, to make the strand even looser.

On WS rows you will purl 4 or 7 stitches in the coral yarn, with the cream yarn held at the RS of the work. Then, bring the cream yarn to the WS of the work (3), purl the next stitch, and take the cream yarn back to the RS of the work again (4). If you have any issues with tension, check how tight/ loose you are holding the stranded cream yarn before you purl the stitch.

Smocking stitch step1

Smocking stitch step2

On RS rows you will knit 4 or 7 stitches in the coral yarn, with the cream yarn held at the RS of the work. Then, bring the cream yarn to the WS of the work (5), knit the next stitch (6), and take the cream yarn back to the RS of the work again (7). If you are having any issues with tension, check how tight/ loose you are holding the stranded cream yarn before you knit the stitch. After you’ve knitted the stitch you can leave the cream yarn hanging loose at the front until you need it again, if this is easier than holding it.

Smocking Stitch step5

Smocking stitch step6

Smocking stitch step7

Arch stitch

8 Knit to the stitch before the centre of the orange section

Arch stitch 8

9 Use your right hand needle to pick up the three strands of cream yarn. 

Arch stitch 9

10  Knit the next stitch using the cream yarn. 

Arch stitch 10

11 Pass the three strands over the stitch you’ve just knitted and off the needle to make the arch.

Arch stitch 11

About our expert

Rosee Woodland is a knitwear designer and technical editor with a special interest in construction

If you enjoyed this masterclass, check out our other expert guides here.

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