The trouble with buttons holes

The trouble with buttons holes

Published by Michelle on 4th Sep 2017

Button holes are my knitting frenemy … they never go quite as planned … so just in case this is other people as well, I thought I’d share how I put my buttons on my cardigans … these are the steps for my Lush cardigan but it’s pretty much *every time* ; )

1. Located buttons

Bought over 2 years ago, the buttons were taken to Ireland to be put on the cardigan while on holidays.  They were then brought back (I was kidding myself) and put in a ‘safe place’.  A safe place which I could not locate and then turned out to be in a pile of other knitting related things, on the floor … yep, my idea of a ‘safe place’ might be a bit of a problem.

All the buttons

I *believe* these are Textile Garden buttons but it has been a while!

2. Knitted the first cardigan band

After attempting to work out which side is the ‘lady side’ for buttons … I’m not sure this is still ‘a thing’ & I have no idea how the thought got into my head so I could think about it!  I just looked at the pattern and thought that whatever worked for Tin Can Knits would do for me. 

To pick up button bands, I pick up & knit 3 stitches for every 4 rows and I always knit the first stitch of all of my rows to make it easier to find where to pick up and knit.

3. Started the second band without casting off the first

I was quite pleased with how this worked out.  It’s the first time I did it – I think it came to be as a defence mechanism against previously mismatched ribbing on other cardigan bands!  I also placed markers every 20 stitches which made it easier to match up the stitch counts on the corresponding sides.

4. Worked out how many of the 12 buttons to put on 

Placed the buttons on the finished band.  Figured that 10 would do as 12 might look cluttered.

I was doing well until this point … but it’s always here that my trouble stars.

5. Worked out where to place my 10 button holes

I always start by placing the top and bottom buttons (always way too close to the edges and it was no different this time of course) and then I did the math:

  1. 128 stitches
  2. 3 stitch button holes given the button size
  3. Top button hole to be at least 3 stitches from the top, so the button hole would start 6 stitches from the end
  4. Bottom button hole to be at least 3 stitches from the bottom, so start the button hold at stitch 4
  5. Taking away my 3 bottom stitches & 6 top stitches, it left 119 stitches.  I couldn’t divide that by 8 so I changed the bottom to being 2 stitches from the edge
  6. 120 stitches divided by 8 buttons to give 15
  7. By my calculations to have my 10 button holes, the button hole row was:  

Knit 2, first button hole, (knit 12, button hold (3 stitches)) * to all buttons, knit 3

Button too close to the top

So close to the top that I had to 'build' up the rib when sewing my ends in

6. Knitted the button hole row as above

I finished my row and had 9 rather than 10 lovely button holes.  Of course.  Those of you who do button holes in your sleep will see exactly where I went wrong. I should have divided by 9 as I forgot to account for the top button taking the last spot.  Honestly.  Every time.

I would love a recommendation for everyone’s favourite button hole calculation.  I did find some while searching but I prefer recommendations of those folk have tried. 

To make the button holes, I used the Tin Can Knits method described in the pattern although for the last stitch cast on, I brought my yarn between the second last stitch cast on before putting the last stitch cast on onto the Left Hand Needle.  I found it minimises the hole that can be created if the stitch after the button hole isn’t knit tightly enough.  This can look a little odd in the rib sometimes but is usually hidden by the button.

7. Sewed on the buttons

I used to just hack away with a needle and thread until the buttons were on but then I found this great YouTube video:

I didn’t use backing buttons this time ... I forgot all about them until I added the link to this post!

Button ready to sew on

Button all ready to sew on ... (mis)calculations for placement in the background ; )

8. Regretted not doing smaller button holes

But I’ll live with that! ; )

More cautionary tale than revolutionary method but slow and steady and all that! : )

Happy knitting (& buttoning!)


Final cardigan

Finished button bands, resplendent with 9 (not 10) lovely buttons!

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