Knitting Vertical Pleats and Pintucks


It’s no secret that I learned to sew long before I learned to knit, and I still love them both, but while sewing is essentially the art of taking a flat piece of fabric and manipulating it into a 3-D structure, the magic of knitting is that you can work that structure into the very fabric itself.

The simplest example of this is knitting in the round - rather than knitting a flat piece and seaming it into a tube, you just make the tube to begin with. Similarly, increases, decreases, and short rows can be used to form curves and undulations. I love designing my stuffed animals in the round, because it forces me to think in three dimensions from stitch one. But when it comes to garments, I’ll admit to finding a bit of a thrill in translating traditional sewing techniques, like pleats and pintucks into knitted forms.

Just like with sewing, working a knitted pleat involves securing folds in the fabric. To work a horizontal pleat, like in my Bob & Wave Cowl (see bottom of post), you pick up and knit a stitch from several rows down together with every active stitch. The vertical pleat, as used to shape the hands of the Turning Leaf gloves, is worked across two rows and is a tad more involved, so I’ll walk you through the process step by step.


Here I use the the term “tuck” to cover pintucks (which are very narrow tucks) and any other vertical pleat.

The Turning Leaf Gloves (used as an example here) have a series of three tucks across the back of the hand. The tucks start at three stitches wide near the wrist, and then decrease to a two-stitch tuck, and then one-stitch tuck just below the fingers.

I’ll be showing the three-stitch tuck throughout, but the same technique can be applied to a tuck of any width. A tuck with more stitches being folded will be more visible and decrease more fabric.


In the image above, I’ve already worked four rows of the three-stitch tuck pattern. You can see the three tucks, and the four recessed “channels” that fall on the sides of the tuck. Worked over two rows, the tucks are formed by slipping the tuck stitches on every other row and pulling the working yarn very tightly across the back, which pulls the stitches on either side of the tuck closer together, essentially folding them and holding the fold together.


  1. Knit to the start of your first tuck.

  2. Slip the tuck stitches (here, three stitches) on to a spare double-pointed needle or cable needle held in front of your work. [NB: if your tucks are small, you can use the same spare needle for all the tucks in a row]

  3. Tension the working yarn tightly as you work the first stitch post-tuck. The more snugly you work the stitches together on either side of the tuck, the more visible your tuck will be. Continue knitting normally until you reach the next tuck.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you reach the end of the tuck section.

In the example shown, the tuck section is 11 stitches wide: three tucks three stitches wide, plus one spacer stitch on either side of the center tuck. When you finish working your first row of tucks, you should have nine stitches (width of tuck x number of tucks) on your spare needle (or needles, if your tuck is very wide).


  1. Knit to the start of your first tuck.

  2. Pick up and knit the tuck stitches (here, three stitches) off the spare needle.

  3. Knit normally to the next tuck.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all stitches are back on the main needle.

It will take a couple of rows until the tucks start to look like anything on the right side of the fabric. On the wrong side of the fabric, you should clearly see where the working yarn has held behind the slipped stitches. Try to keep that horizontal line the same length for tucks of the same width, and the short it is, the more prominent your tucks will be.


Try out the pattern below which incorporate tucks, horizontal pleats, or smocking!

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A Sweater for the Fella

Coming soon to a newsstand near you, the Malaga Pullover in Knitscene - Winter 2014.

Malaga is my first sweater design for men, and I'm pretty proud of the way this one turned out. Inspired by a rather stylish co-worker of mine, Malaga is a simple, wearable raglan that shifts in both color and texture, but is easy to knit the whole way through. The instructions for this bottom-up raglan are written so there's a minimal amount of purling (ribbing and short rows only) - so it's a quick knit too - plenty of time to whip one out before the holidays and it's available in sizes 37¾ (39½, 43¼, 47, 50¾, 54½)" chest circumference (shown in size 39½").

What really makes this pattern work though, is the yarn selection - shown here in Harrisville Designs Shetland. The bottom half is knit holding two strands of the same color fingering weight yarn held together, and swapping one strand for a contrast color and marled effect for the sleeves and yoke. Harrisvile has a ton of wonderful earthy and saturated colors to choose from, and Brooklyn Tweed's Loft would be another beautiful option for folks in the US. I'd recommend picking a dark and a light version of the same color family (i.e. a forest/pale green combo, or light blue/navy) for a similar effect.

While Malaga is the only men's pattern in the issue, there are a ton of other great designs in there. I'm particularly fond of Kiyomi Burgin's Tongshan Sweater and the Haubergeon Sweater by Featured Designer Emma Welford.

To purchase the Malaga pattern, visit your local yarn or book store for the latest Knitscene issue, or purchase a print or digital copy via Interweave.

Want some more men's sweater inspiration? Check out my Pinterest Board!

All Photos © Knitscene/Harper Point

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Introducing: Kaeryn

I was pleasantly surprised when I was told that Quince & Co. would be releasing my newest design this week, as I didn't expect it to see the light of day until the fall knitting releases, so while this isn't the springiest sweater, it's without a doubt one my favorite designs.

Quince Osprey Sweater Sketch 10 17 11

I wanted Kaeryn to be one of those cozy weekend sweaters that you could just throw on, be comfy and still look good.  I wanted it to be something infinitely wearable and a go-to item. My knitting buddy Karen must have thought so, because ever since I pulled out the sketch for the first time, she was encouraging me to hurry up and finish it so she could knit one of her own.  And since Karen served as my design-approver throughout the process, I named it after her (though I changed the spelling to look more knitting-pattern-y)(though technically, I think the new spelling would be pronounced kay-ren, but I'm cool with however you want to pronounce it).

In many ways, this is a very basic raglan, a-line sweater, but I think I've added a few details that make it pretty special. Perhaps the most noticeable are the moss-stitch panel and its seamless kangaroo pocket.  I also like the clean lines of the turned hems at the collar and hem. I discovered the decrease bind-off while working on this sweater and it's perfect for keeping the hem sketchy.

kaeryn collar
kaeryn hem

Also of note are the moss-stitch cuffs, which are decreased into a soft point.

The sweater is knit in Quince & Co's worsted weight Lark yarn, in Frank's Plum.

When possible, I strive to write my patterns for a while range of sizes and this comes in a bunch: 30½ (32¾, 34¾, 36¾, 39, 41, 43¼, 45¼, 47¼, 49½, 51½, 53½, 55½, 57¾, 59¾)”

To purchase the pattern, visit the Quince & Co. website or you can queue it up on Ravelry.

Like I said, I love this sweater and totally want one in my own size, so I'm up for a knit-along nearer toward fall if anyone's interested!

[All photos with model © Carrie Bostick Hoge, courtesy of Quince & Co; all other photos by me]

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Introducing: Bob & Wave Cowl


In September I stopped in PurlDiva and treated myself to two skeins of Misty Alpaca Chunky.

I'm not a big yarn horder, I typically only buy for specific projects, so I had admired and passed on this yarn on a couple different occasions. But on this particular day it had been a long week, and Misty Alpaca feels like soft cuddly air and Purl Diva had it stocked in one of my favorite colors, so how could I resist??


As soon as I had a break from all that November knitting, I turned that yarn into this Bob & Wave cowl. The color reminded me of 1950s Cadillacs, so I wanted do do something with a retro feel and nothing feels more like retro knitting to me than bobbles.


Though it's a small and relatively quick project, there are a lot of fun details. The cowl features an i-cord cast on and bind off. I-cord also appears as the button loops and faux i-cord is created by rows of purl stitches that are pleated horizontally to make the texture really pop. Carefully placed increases and decreases create the scalloped waving background for the bobbles and the fabric manipulation makes for a denser and warmer cowl.


The project uses two skeins of Misti Alpaca or 175 yds of cozy chunky yarn and measures 22”/ 56 cm long, 9”/23cm high.

The pattern is available for purchase for $4.00 USD

or you can queue it up on Ravelry.

To find out about new pattern releases and special offers, sign up for the Ms. Cleaver Mailing List.

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Introducing: Dolan

I'm a bit late in introducing this pattern, because honestly it came out mid-November, within a week of threeotherdesigns, and I didn't have another blog post in me that week, but it's no knock against the pattern, because I love this one too.

When I dropped Ferrous off at the quince Offices, I said I was feeling a hat for my next design.  I'm a sucker for textured stitches, so I thought it would be fun to do a sampler hat of knit/purl textures.

I swatched a bunch of patterns in both Lark and Osprey and settled on using Osprey as the bouncy nature of the yarn really makes the texture pop. Also, Osprey is totally my new favorite Quince yarn.

Dolan is knit in the round and uses one skein of Osprey (shown in Leek here). Because of the large gauge (size 9/5.5 mm needles), it's a super quick project - if you have any last minute Christmas gift needs. The pattern can be purchased for $5 USD via Quince & Co or queued up on Ravelry.

(PS - aren't these photos by Carrie Bostick Hoge the dreamiest? I love them!)

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