Saturday, March 3, 2012

Smocking Tutorial

Right now I'm working on designing a cowl that features a smocking stitch. Smocking is used in sewing as well as knitting, and refers to the gathering of fabric by using parallel stitches. There are lots of different ways to smock, so I thought I'd share the version I like best. Other ways might have the knitter put the stitches to be smocked on a cable needle and then wrap the yarn around it, but I like this version because it's faster and less hassle. In this example, I'm smocking over a fabric that is 2x2 ribbing.

The fabric is ready to be worked and yarn is held in back. The next six stitches on the left-hand needle will be the ones to be smocked.
Insert the needle between the sixth and seventh stitches on the left-hand needle. It's easy to put the needle through the sixth stitch instead of to the left of it while going under the left-hand needle, so take care while doing this step.

Wrap the yarn clockwise around the right-hand needle.

Pull the new stitch through the fabric...

... and across the six stitches. Give it enough slack so you don't create holes, but not too much or it won't gather the fabric well.

Place the new stitch on the needle. Orientation of the stitch doesn't really matter in terms of the finished product, as long as you're consistent. Then place the right-hand needle through the second and first stitch on the needle as if to knit.

Knit these two stitches together.

Work through the remaining five stitches in pattern (k1, p2, k2)

This is what the finished product looks like. The smocked stitches are worked every six rows and are offset by four stitches from the previous smocked row to create the smocked grid pattern you see here.

And there you have it! The yarn I'm using in this tutorial is Malabrigo Rios in the colorway Playa. I really love the color changes, and I think the smocking looks great because the two bands going across to create the smock aren't always the same color.


  1. I really love the way that you described this technique, I wish that I had been able to read this when I was learning it! The resulting texture is beautiful, especially in that yarn. I very excited to see this cowl!

  2. This is so nice! I agree that the yarn is beautiful and the resulting pattern will be very interesting! Were you to need a (free) test knitter, let me know! I'm starting to think that I'd like to be a test knitter!

  3. Ha! I just did an entire sock pattern using that concept. I had no idea that it was anything other than a design feature. Thanks for the lesson.

  4. Great tutorial! I never knew smocking was so easy!

  5. The swatch is beautiful. Want to see the sweater when it's finished.

  6. I am going to have to try that! Very cool techinque!

  7. Excellent tutorial! That will look fantastic on a cowl.

  8. I had no idea smocking was that simple. Thanks for the tutorial.

  9. This is an excellent tutorial!

  10. I wish I could take such beautifully-focused lovely photos. Well done.

  11. Total genial ... vielen Dank für dieses wundervolle Tuturial :)

    Beste Grüße schickt

    die Mari(anne)

  12. Nice stitch! Just wondering if it is a double sided pattern?

    1. Nope, it only has that smocked stitch on the right side. The wrong side looks like slightly wonky ribbing.

  13. It's been a long time since I've used this smocking. I used it on a pice I did for my daughter when she was 18 months. I'm so glad it re surfaced, now I'm going to see if I can brush up on this :) thank you for sharing this.

  14. Awesome tutorial! thanks so much for sharing! Peace