While I am a huge believer in approaching knitting on its own terms, designing my Box Pleat Top showed me that traditional sewing techniques can inform my knitting in ways that are both surprising and beautiful. Starting with box pleats!

Box Pleat Top | Purl Soho

Like crossing a cable, securing the folds of a knitted box pleat is far easier to do than it may look. Tackle the slightly tricky maneuver of knitting together three stitches from three needles, and you’ve conquered this handy technique!

Box Pleat Top | Purl Soho

Karin Öberg’s Kalinka linen brings a dynamic drape and a subtle flow to these pleats. Attracted initially by the richness of the color Cyan (think Japanese beetle basking in the sun or the underbelly of a hummingbird), I was delighted by how smooth and supple the yarn became after I blocked it and by how effortlessly the folds took shape.

Box Pleat Top | Purl Soho

Creating this Top was a lesson in appreciating the moments when the worlds of knitting and sewing collide. I hope you’ll enjoy making it as much as I did! -Kristy

Materials

Box Pleat Top | Purl Soho

Gauge

28 stitches and 32 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Sizes

40 (44, 48, 52, 56, 60) inches

  • Finished Chest Circumference: 40 (44, 48, 52, 56, 60) inches
  • Length from Underarm to Bottom Edge: 13 (13, 13 ½, 13 ½, 14, 14 ¼) inches
  • Length from Shoulder to Bottom Edge: 20 (20 ½, 21 ½, 22, 22 ¾, 23 ½) inches

EASE: This piece is designed with a 6- to 8-inch ease.

SAMPLE: Size 44

Box Pleat Top | Purl Soho

Pattern

Body

Cast 280 (308, 336, 364, 392, 420) stitches onto the circular needle.

Place a marker and join to work in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

Knit every round until piece measures 13 (13, 13 ½, 13 ½, 14, 14 ¼) inches from the cast-on edge, ending the last round 8 (10, 12, 13, 15, 16) stitches before the marker.

Separate the Front + Back

Bind off 14 (18, 22, 24, 28, 30) stitches (removing the marker), knit 97 (107, 117, 129, 139, 151) and put previous 98 (108, 118, 130, 140, 152) stitches onto stitch holders or a piece of scrap yarn (you will use them later to knit the Back), bind off next 14 (18, 22, 24, 28, 30) stitches, knit to end of round. [252 (272, 292, 316, 336, 360] total stitches; [154 (164, 174, 186, 196, 208)] live stitches for Front and 98 (108, 118, 130, 140, 152) on-hold stitches for Back.

Front

Note: You will work this section back and forth in rows over the 154 (164, 174, 186, 196, 208) Front stitches.

Row 1 (wrong side): Purl.

Row 2: K1, ssk, knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. [2 stitches decreased]

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 seven (nine, eleven, thirteen, fifteen, seventeen) more times. [138 (144, 150, 158, 164, 172) stitches]

Work in stockinette stitch until armhole measures 3 (3 ½, 3 ¾, 4, 4 ¼, 4 ¾) inches, ending with a wrong side row.

Next row (right side): Knit 63 (65, 68, 71, 73, 77) stitches for Left Front Shoulder and turn so the wrong side is facing you.

Leave the remaining 75 (79, 82, 87, 91, 95) stitches on hold on the needle.

Left Front Shoulder

NOTE: You will work this section over just the 63 (65, 68, 71, 73, 77) Left Front Shoulder stitches.

Row 1 (wrong side): Purl.

Row 2: Knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. [1 stitch decreased]

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 six (six, seven, eight, eight, eight) more times, then work Row 1 once again. [56 (58, 60, 62, 64, 68) stitches]

Note: You’re about to make a box pleat. See how it’s done with our Box Pleat video tutorial!

Box Pleat Row (right side): Knit 8 (9, 10, 11, 12, 15). Make sure the working yarn is at the back of the work and slip next 7 stitches purlwise onto a double pointed needle (Needle A), slip following 7 stitches purlwise onto a second double pointed needle (Needle B). Bring Needles A and B parallel to each other, creating a fold in the fabric that is wrong sides together. Now lay Needles A and B parallel to the front side of the left end of the circular needle, creating a fold in the fabric that is right sides together. All three needles are parallel and Needle A is closest to you.

*Insert the right end of the circular needle (or a third double pointed needle) through the first stitches of Needle A, Needle B, and the left needle. Knit all three of these stitches together and let them drop them off of their respective needles. Repeat from * until all 7 stitches have been joined (right-hand side of Box Pleat completed). Note: If you used a double pointed needle to knit the stitches together, slide the 7 joined stitches back onto to right needle.

Now, again, make sure the working yarn is at the back of the work and slip next 7 stitches purlwise onto Needle A, slip following 7 stitches purlwise onto Needle B. Bring Needles A and B parallel to each other, creating a fold in the fabric that is right sides together. Now lay Needles A and B parallel to the back side of the left end of the circular needle, creating a fold in the fabric that is wrong sides together. All three needles are parallel and the circular needle is closest to you.

**Insert the right end of the needle (or a third double pointed needle) through the first stitches of the left needle, Needle B, and Needle A. Knit all three of these stitches together and drop them off of their respective needles. Repeat from ** until all 7 stitches have been knit together (left-hand side of Box Pleat completed). Note: If you used a double pointed needle to knit the stitches together, slide the 7 joined stitches back onto to right needle.

Knit remaining 6 (7, 8, 9, 10, 11) stitches. [28 (30, 32, 34, 36, 40) stitches]

Next Row: Purl.

Next Row: Knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. [1 stitch decreased]

Repeat last 2 rows once more. [26 (28, 30, 32, 34, 38) stitches]

Work in stockinette stitch until armhole measures 7 (7 ½, 8, 8 ½, 8 ¾, 9 ¼) inches, ending with a wrong side row.

Place stitches on stitch holder.

Right Front Shoulder

Note: You will work this section over just the 75 (79, 82, 87, 91, 95) Right Front Shoulder stitches.

With the right side facing you, join yarn.

Row 1 (right side): Bind off 12 (14, 14, 16, 18, 18) stitches, knit to end of row. [63 (65, 68, 71, 73, 77) stitches]

Row 2: Purl.

Row 3: K1, ssk, knit to end. [1 stitch decreased]

Repeat Rows 2 and 3 six (six, seven, eight, eight, eight) more times, then work Row 2 once again. [56 (58, 60, 62, 64, 68) stitches]

Box Pleat Row: Work as for previous Box Pleat Row, but this time start the row with knit 6 (7, 8, 9, 10, 11), work the Box Pleat, and end the row with knit 8 (9, 10, 11, 12, 15) stitches. [28 (30, 32, 34, 36, 40) stitches]

Next Row: Purl.

Next Row: K1, ssk, knit to end. [1 stitch decreased]

Repeat last 2 rows once more. [26 (28, 30, 32, 34, 38) stitches]

Work in stockinette stitch until armhole measures 7 (7 ½, 8, 8 ½, 8 ¾, 9 ¼) inches, ending with a wrong side row.

Place stitches on stitch holder.

BACK

Return to the needle the 98 (108, 118, 130, 140, 152) Back stitches that have been on hold. With the wrong side facing you, join yarn.

Row 1 (wrong side): Purl

Row 2: K1, ssk, knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. [2 stitches decreased]

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 seven (nine, eleven, thirteen, fifteen, seventeen) more times. [82 (88, 94, 102, 108, 116) stitches]

Work in stockinette stitch until armhole measures 5 (5 ½, 6, 6 ½, 6 ¾, 7 ¼) inches, ending with a wrong side row.

Next Row (right side): Knit 26 (28, 30, 32, 34, 38) stitches for Right Shoulder and turn so the wrong side is facing you.

Leave the remaining 56 (60, 64, 70, 74, 78) stitches on hold on the needle.

Right Back Shoulder

Note: You will work this section over just the 26 (28, 30, 32, 34, 38) Right Back Shoulder stitches.

Work in stockinette stitch until armhole measures 7 (7 ½, 8, 8 ½, 8 ¾, 9 ¼) inches, ending with a wrong side row.

Place stitches on stitch holder.

Left Back Shoulder

Note: You will work this section over just the 56 (60, 64, 70, 74, 78) Left Back Shoulder stitches.

With the right side facing you, join yarn.

Row 1 (right side): Bind off 30 (32, 34, 38, 40, 40) stitches, knit to end of row. [26 (28, 30, 32, 34, 38) stitches]

Work in stockinette stitch until armhole measures 7 (7 ½, 8, 8 ½, 8 ¾, 9 ¼) inches, ending with a wrong side row. Place stitches on stitch holder.

Finish

Shoulder Seams

Graft each pair of shoulder stitches together using the Kitchener Stitch.

Armhole Edging

With the right side facing you and beginning at the center of one underarm, use double pointed needles to pick up 1 stitch from each stitch along horizontal edges and one stitch in each row along vertical edges, around the entire armhole. Loosely bind off all stitches as follows: *K2tog tbl (through the back loop), place stitch back on left needle, repeat from * to end. Cut yarn and pull it through the remaining stitch.

Repeat for other armhole.

Neck Edging

Work as for armhole, starting with the Back neck bound off stitches. Loosely bind off all stitches, as described in the Armhole Edging section.

Bottom Hem

With circular needle and the right side facing you, pick up 1 stitch around the cast on edge and bind off all stitches as for Armhole and Neck Edging.

Weave in ends and block as desired.

Box Pleat Top | Purl Soho