Knitted Smocking Stitch Tutorial

I’ve been home sick for a few days, and being couch or bed bound has been great for my Coraline cardigan. I’ve had to learn how to do the smocking stitch that forms the yoke. In doing so, I’ve looked around a lot for tutorials and there aren’t many. I’ve found myself trying to explain to friends how I’m doing it so I thought a picture tutorial would be a good idea.

Here’s Ysolda’s finished cardigan. I’m about three repeats into the lower part of the yoke. The smocking stitch seemed daunting at first until I realised it’s really just cabling.

Here’s how it’s done. I did see a tutorial online for a way that involves manually creating the crossed over stitches with a wool needle and yarn which looked pretty cool but I’m rather taken with the idea of knitting it.

First it’s a pattern created over a P4 K1 base. You’re simply changing the order of the stitches which, if you know how to cable, is nothing new.

Begin by picking up the first knit stitch and bringing it forward on a cable needle or spare double pointed needle.

Next, slip the next four purl stitches across to the right hand needle without knitting them.

Pick up the next knit stitch and hold it on the cable needle.

Then you will slip the four purl stitches back to where they began, on the left hand needle, ready to work them.

To create the crossover, you’ll wrap the two stitches on the cable needle together in an anti-clockwise motion. I’ve found wrapping them very firmly gives the best effect.

From there, knit the first of the two stitches onto the right hand needle, leaving the second knit stitch on the cable needle.

Purl the next four stitches as normal and when that’s done, knit the remaining stitch off the cable needle onto the right hand needle.

And now you have a very nice section of smocking.

It’s quite fun, if a little slow and fiddly. But I’m getting plenty of opportunity to speed up because the rows of this cardigan are SO long! I’ll be wearing this cardigan in a week so I hope!



24 thoughts on “Knitted Smocking Stitch Tutorial

  1. A different kind of request..
    We are organizing a major exhibit on smocking for 2014. The idea of knitted smocking was brought to my attention as something which would surely be of interest. Can you suggest any knitters or designers that would be interest in parcipating, by a loan of some special pieces.. Information on the exhibit can be found on web site;
    Jules Kliot, Director
    Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles
    Berkeley, California

  2. Thank you so much for the tutorial. I couldn’t “wrap” my brain around what she meant by “wrap,” but she meant WRAP THE STITCHES WITH THE YARN. Duh. Many thanks for the pictures!

  3. Thank you – I have stalled on the first sleeve of Coraline, and I suspect some of it is because I am a bit daunted by the smocking. I had a practice go a few weeks ago, and was getting the hang of it, but I shall print off your tutorial for reference and support!

  4. Brilliant tutorial, Bells, great piccies and description – will definitely remember this for when I give smocking a try 🙂

  5. Thanks for that – I have the yarn and just need to start! I am almost finished the tea leaf, so coraline is not far away (I hope – unless I get distracted – or there are more assignments) I feel like I am back in the land of the living again!

  6. THANK YOU! You’ve just made this pattern less scary. 🙂

    Hope you’re feeling better, and you’re taking it easy…

  7. Thanks so much for taking the time to demonstrate this. I might have thought it too daunting without some explanation. And I LOVE your cabling needle. I can’t seem to find a good one, so am a bit green with envy right now — over the needle as well as the fact that you can show pictures of your hands without having to photoshop out the gnawed and torn cuticles. I need to run out for a manicure ASAP!! 🙂

  8. That really sets the top and shoulders off, doesn’t it?

    It looks like one of those techniques that looks impossibly fiddly, but when you actually do it, you find yourself thinking, Well, I’ll just finish three more. Okay, four then. How many was that, now? Oh, if it’s seven, I might as well do the next three and that’ll be ten…

  9. I hope you’re feeling better by this point. I love that stitch. It does look fiddly but the results look just like a smocked dress. It’s really beautiful.

  10. That’s very cool, even if I’m still confused. I think I’m one of those people who need to do while the explanation is happening, though pictures help. A lot! If I ever knit a coraline I will be back to this post for assistance!!!

    I’m glad that being sick has an up-side 🙂

  11. I love smocked knitting – I’ll have to bookmark this as I’m sure I’ll be knitting some one day – very helpful. Also your Branigan shawl is wonderful, hope you get much pleasure from it. Feel better soon x

  12. Cool tutorial – looking forward to seeing the finished Coraline on you! I should imagine that purple will look great on you. Hope you feel better soon. x

  13. The Coraline cardigan is looking very pretty indeed in that beautiful color. Thanks for the tutorial, I am sure it will come in very handy when I need to knit one up for myself!

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