Learn It: The Vertical Buttonhole
We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of Knitscene, and I’ve had the pleasure of looking through my collection of back issues in preparation for writing this newsletter. I discovered a well-loved copy of the spring 2009 issue, featuring a wonderful tutorial on buttonholes, by technical editor Karen Frisa. It also contains a pattern called the Sixteen Button Cardigan. Yeah. That’s a lot of buttonholes. But it’s so cute!
I have a love-hate relationship with knitting buttonholes, leaning a little more toward the hate than the love. Mine tend to be too loose, which is a bummer when the buttons slip out of the holes. For one cardigan, I had to resort to sewing up parts of each of the buttonholes to make them tighter, and they ended up too tight, so the cardigan is now a pullover. Not the best solution.
In her article, Karen talks about vertical buttonholes, which intrigue me, especially for buttonbands with vertical ribbing. Here’s an excerpt of that article for you.
Working a Vertical Buttonhole
What did you think of your last buttonholes? Were they a little loose? Too tight? Didn’t work well with the stitch pattern on your band? Maybe you haven’t even made a buttonhole before.
Knitters can take two approaches when it comes to pairing buttons and buttonholes: choose the button first, then create a buttonhole that works with it; or choose the buttonhole first, then choose a button that works with it.
In either case, aim for a hole that is a little snug for your button, so that the button won’t slip back through the hole unexpectedly. Here’s how to make one of the lesser used but very nice buttonholes, a vertical buttonhole.
The vertical buttonhole can be sized to fit your button, but the opening is vertical rather than horizontal. This variation can be nice when working in ribbing or another stitch pattern with a strong vertical line, but it is a little fiddly to work. The vertical split for this buttonhole is made by working up one side of the buttonhole, then breaking the yarn, rejoining it at the bottom of the buttonhole, and working up the other side.
Make this buttonhole as follows: Work to the buttonhole location. *Turn, work to end of row, turn, work to buttonhole location; repeat from * until buttonhole is the correct height. Break yarn. Rejoin yarn to bottom of buttonhole. Work to end of row. *Work to buttonhole location, turn, work to end of row; repeat from * until buttonhole is the correct height. On next row, work across all stitches. This last step closes the top of the buttonhole.
The yarn ends can be used to reinforce the top and bottom of the buttonhole.
—Karen Frisa, Knitscene Spring 2009
The topic of buttonholes brings up buttonbands. Here are some tips for knitting great ones.
• Use a knitting needle one or even two sizes smaller than the one used for the body of the garment. This smaller size will make a firmer band that is less likely to droop.
• When picking up stitches for a band, consider the stitch gauge of the band pattern versus the row gauge of the garment. For example, if your band stitch pattern has five stitches per inch, and if your garment has seven rows per inch, then pick up five stitches for every seven rows on the garment. You could do this as follows: *pick up 1 stitch in each of next 3 rows, skip 1 row, pick up 1 stitch in each of next 2 rows, skip 1 row; rep from * for length of band. This sequence makes a band that lies flat.
• Buttons don’t need to be evenly spaced. Clustering buttons in groups of two or three along a band can be pretty and unexpected.
• Choose buttons that complement your garment in terms of size and weight as well as style. Too many heavy buttons on a lightweight garment can pull it out of shape; tiny buttons on a heavier garment can be lost. Shank buttons create some room for the knitted fabric behind the button. If you have a delicate fabric, place a backing button (a small, thin button) or a piece of felt on the wrong side of the band (inside the garment) behind the visible button.
• Traditionally, buttonholes for a woman’s or girl’s garment are on the right band (as it’s worn); for a man’s or boy’s, they’re on the left.
These are the types of articles you’ve come to expect in Knitscene, along with fashion-forward designs and styling. We’re offering a terrific collection to celebrate Knitscene‘s 10th birthday: a collection of every issue of Knitscene since it’s debut, plus all of the Accessories issues. Get yours today, in print or digital.
Here’s to better buttonholes, and to 10 years of Knitscene.