Join the urban knitting movement and brighten your neighborhood with plant pockets

August 23 | Guest post by Heather

You know how Derek Powazek comes by sometimes to school us all on plant-love? Turns out his wife is awesome, too — when she posted this treasure, we knew you needed to see it.

Having falling in love with urban knitting, I wanted to follow up my International Yarn Bombing 2011 day adventure with something Derek and I could collaborate on. He likes to grow things and I like to knit. Bring these two things together and we came up with the idea of plant pockets. We've created a dozen and deployed the first two last weekend while walking down to the Mission.

I'm very much a novice knitter.* The design has changed a wee bit from pocket to pocket as I learned from the previous one. (I'm sure that all you champion knitters out there could tell me how I'm doing it wrong, and I encourage you to post your own plant pocket creations that are more better. The world needs more little gardens in our urban areas.)

(Asterisk!) I've found YouTube and the myriad of great knitting videos there to be a great help. While I could remember how to knit and purl, casting on and off was a complete mystery. Much thanks to all those super knitters out there who are creating video to help people like me learn how to knit.

The instructions below cover creation of the pocket. Please see Derek's gardening site, Plantgasm for the planting portion of this adventure.

What you'll need

  • Yarn — I decided to use acrylic yarn for our plant pockets. Given how damp San Francisco can be, I wanted something that would be less likely to rot. And, as we're going to be spreading the plant pocket love around the city, I wanted to keep an eye on cost. All of the yarn is Red Heart Super Saver.
  • Needles — Size 8 US. I have both bamboo and plastic needles in this size and I've found the plastic ones easier to knit with the Red Heart yarn.
  • Darning needle – To stitch up the sides and weave the ties through the pocket.
  • Scissors — For the snipping.
  • Tape measure — For the measuring.
  • Optional, a glass of wine — For the drinking.

Open pocket — Simple

  • The majority of the plant pockets that we've created are open at the top. There's a closed "pillow" top version that I'll post about in the future. The opening needs to be wide enough to hold a plant, but narrow enough to avoid sagging. I found a 4 inch width to be ideal. Cast on 17 stitches and then stockinette stitch for 9 inches (knit a row, purl a row). Once you've got at least 9 inches, cast off. You've created the body of the pocket.
  • Use the darning needle to weave the casting on and off ends into the purl side of the pocket. It's best to run them down the inside edge of the pocket so it won't be too visible in the finished pocket.
  • The next step involves creating the bottom tie. Cut 6 pieces of yarn that are approx. 30 inches long. You can adjust the length of the ties to be longer or shorter if you know the circumference of where you're going to tie your plant pocket. Put three pieces of the yarn aside for the top tie. Take the body of the plant pocket that you knit in the first step and fold it with the purl side inwards. You want the front of the pocket to me roughly 4 inches and the back 5 inches. The cast off row has more structure than the cast on row, so I use that for the front lip of the pocket. Take one of the pieces of the yarn and thread the darning needle. You want to loosely stitch three of the pieces of yarns through the width of the body pocket at the fold. You can use the stitches themselves if you want an even look. Make sure that you've got even "tails" of yarn on either side. Once you've woven three pieces through, braid them to the end, securring them with a knot. Repeat this on the other side.

  • Next up, stitching the sides. Cut a length of yarn and knot the end. Push the darning needle through from the inside to the outside, starting from the base of the pocket where you created the bottom tie. Holding the pieces together stitch the front to the back moving up towards the top of the pocket. Repeat this step, sewing the other side of the pocket.

  • We'll use the three remaining lengths of yarn that you cut previously to create the top tie. You'll weave the three lengths through the back flap and then braid the extra length on either side.

The pocket's complete and ready for planting. Check out Plantgasm for tips and tricks on planting your pocket.

Open pocket — Fancy

The fancy version differs only in that you tile stitch the portion that will be the front of the pocket.

  • Cast on 20 stitches
  • 1st row: knit 4 stitches, purl 4 stitches, knit 4 stitches, purl 4 stitches, knit 4 stitches.
  • 2nd row: purl 4 stitches, knit 4 stitches, purl 4 stitches, knit 4 stitches, purl 4 stitches.
  • Repeat 1st and 2nd rows.
  • 5th row: purl 4 stitches, knit 4 stitches, purl 4 stitches, knit 4 stitches, purl 4 stitches.
  • 6th row: knit 4 stitches, purl 4 stitches, knit 4 stitches, purl 4 stitches, knit 4 stitches.
  • Repeat 5th and 6th rows.
  • Repeat 1st through 8th rows.
  • Repeat 1st through 4th rows.
  • Follow steps 2 – 6 in the simple pocket above, using the bottom of the basket weave as the folding point for the base of the pocket.

Did you follow all that? When you're done, you'll end up with what looks like a basket weave with five columns and five rows. It's pretty and adds texture to the front of the plant pocket.

Now? All you need to do is stuff your pockets full of plants and find some naked chain link!

  1. That is absolutely amazing! I would love to walk in my neighborhood and find these all over!

    1 agrees
  2. And if you really really want to do it, but really really can't learn to knit, you do have an alternative! If you have a knit acrylic sweater that is unwearable and can't/you don't want to be donated, cut squares from the body and stitch together, or use the sleeves as close-to-ready made pockets.

    4 agree
  3. This is wonderful! I live right next to San Francisco, and I hope I run into some of them around the city!

    0 agree
    • If by "share," you're just asking if you can link it, then the answer is OF COURSE!

      If by "share" you mean repost it, then no: Heather retains full rights to her writing and photos, so you'd need to contact her via her website to ask permission.

      0 agree
  4. I love that these are functional, multi-purpose yarn graffiti! So adorable! Plaaaaant pocket!

    0 agree
  5. love love love this! i have been scheming a knitting group ever since the urban art bombing post a few weeks ago, but i found the videos i came across too hard to follow and the classes in my area keep getting cancelled. I am really excited to try the ones linked to here!

    0 agree
  6. I love this and would also love to share on my blog — will definitely contact her for permission to on-share! Sharing knit-love can only be a good thing, right?!
    Also, I've found the knitting videos hugely helpful as well; big ups to the experts posting them! It comes in handy when I can't remember something; and saves me having to run to my mumma and ask questions. Now if only I could get the hang of crochet *frown*

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  7. While I love this project, can I offer a plea to urban knitters? Check your pieces. Check them often. I've seen too many sad, washed out, stretched, and faded works of urban knitting to count, and the look is not attractive, and tends to garner negative attraction. An 'ugh' instead of of 'oh wow', a 'why do we have this sh*t' instead of 'we need MOAR!'. So keep an eye on your pieces. Fortunately, these pockets look much easier to track than larger pieces, and the succulents are a nice hardy plant that should stand up to whatever the weather can dish out.

    2 agree
    • Agreed! If your knits get covered in street sludge, TAKE THEM DOWN.
      I've seen a few road cone coozies on main street here in down on a construction project that's been going on for a year and a half now. The person/people who's done them has come back to refresh them, and it makes all the difference in the world. They get grimy pretty quickly because of tar and dirt.

      1 agrees
  8. I love these. I've been wanting to yarn bomb my neighborhood in Philly for the longest time and this might be the inspiration I need. Love Love Love!

    0 agree
  9. Do you think you could use a knifty knitter to make these? that's all i know how to use at the moment, and these look beautiful!

    0 agree
    • If you like to knifty knit, you should learn to really knit! I just learned this year and was amazed at how easy it is to get started with basic techniques. It's so much fun, too. I wish I had learned years ago.

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  10. Has anyone tried to grow anything other than succulents in these lovely pockets??

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  11. made these last year to hang on our deck divider wall. looked great even through out the winter -little pockets full of snow. Tried different plants, ivies this year and are even better.
    thanks for the idea.

    0 agree
  12. In Italy, some friends of mine tried to use different fabrics to do like you but, usually, those bags rot away.
    It looks like that they're very nice as you hang them, but after some months….

    1 agrees
  13. As an entirely YouTube taught knitter, I second that asterisk! Anything I don't know how to do I'll just look it up really quick. The internet is an amazing thing.

    0 agree

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