How to knit pleats? Learn in two steps.

Pleated bagEver completed a piece of knitting with a simple repeat pattern, only to find that the result is a bit… lackluster? Rows upon rows of stockinette stitch can look great with the right yarn and pattern, but sometimes it can be a bit drab. If you want to make a statement—one taken right from the fashion catwalk—try knitting pleats into your work.

Pleats open up fascinating knitting and designing possibilities, and you can learn how to knit a pleat in just two steps. Once you learn the basics of how to knit pleats, you can infuse your knitting with texture, dimension, and drama. Sweaters, hats, bags, wraps, and more—pleat most anything you make! Let’s learn how.


How to Knit a Pleat (an excerpt from the book Knitting Pleats)

close up of knitted pleatsPleats are worked horizontally in the knitting, and they can be made either across an entire row or on only a section of a row. Look closely at the photo (left) and you’ll see a series of pleats separated by rows of knitting.

A pleat is formed by working a given number of rows, and then joining the live stitches on the needle along with stitches picked up from a specific row below. Stitches are picked up on the wrong side of the designated row using a spare needle, one slightly smaller than the one used for the knitting. Insert the needle under a stitch and leave the stitch on the needle. Continue to pick up the stitches (either across a row or on only a section as indicated) and leave them on the needle.

knit pleats--picking up stitches on the wrong side
Picking up stitches on the wrong side

Holding the main needle and the spare needle with picked-up stitches in your left hand, knit together one stitch from each needle. This is similar to working a three-needle bind-off, but you don’t bind off!

knit pleats--joining the pleat
Joining the pleat

Believe it or not, that’s it! You’ve just learned how to knit pleats.

Once you understand how to knit a basic pleat you can move on to other pleating techniques, such as:


Sectional pleats in horizontal ribbing, full-row pleats in stockinette stitch, and puffy pleats



Sectional pleats in horizontal ribbing


Full-row pleats in stockinette stitch


Puffy pleats

Knitting PleatsUsing pleats in your knitting is an easy, fun way to personalize most anything you knit—and it may just inspire you to stretch your knitting to new heights. If you give pleats a try, let us know about it in the comments!

Find more pleat-knitting how-to plus 17 step-by-step projects in the book Knitting Pleats by Olga Pobedinskaya. Purchase the book and get the eBook version instantly for free—always an exclusive perk at Martingale (whenever eBooks are available).


World Wide Knit in Public DayDID YOU KNOW? Today is World Wide Knit in Public Day!

The largest knitter-run event in the world, World Wide Knit in Public Day (a.k.a. WWKIP) is celebrated each year with events put on by volunteer knitters, crocheters, and other yarn lovers. Visit the official site to find an event near you, or to post and host your own event.

P.S. WWKIP Day has been extended to a full week (June 9 – 17, 2012) to accommodate all countries, so there’s still time to join a group or to create a group of your own!


5 Comments (leave a comment)

  • What an interesting technique. I will have to give this a try soon.

    —DebrafromMD on June 9, 2012
  • I’m a quilter at heart ~ but this is SO intriguing that I might have to dig out my knitting needles and give it a try!!

    —Ann on June 12, 2012
  • I just loved the sweater with horizontal pleats!!!
    I WILL try this stitch!!

    —Liza on February 4, 2013
  • o trabalho fica lindo vou olhar bem e vou tentar fazer alguma peça, fica lindo de demais, parabens pela beleza do trabalho, obrigada.

    Translation:
    the work looks great I look good and I’ll try to make a play, is gorgeous too, congratulations for the beauty of the work, thank you.

    sandra hiwatashi on May 29, 2014
  • I am not much of a knitter, yet. I started with crochet and am now teaching mysellf to knitt. This is wonderful! I love it and will have to try it very soon! Oh what ideas this brings to mind. Oh no, now it is an itch that I will have to scratch. I will not be able to rest until I give it a try.

    —Tina on June 20, 2014

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