Finishing Workshop: Buttonholes

knit buttonholeI admit to not being much of a cardigan knitter, and I stick with pretty basic buttonholes when I do need them, either doing a decrease or a bind off for however many stitches and then casting on stitches to replace them in the next row.

It’s not elegant, but it works for my purposes.

But every time I think about buttonholes, I think about Maggie Righetti, who dedicated a whole chapter in her excellent book Knitting in Plain English to the buttonhole, called “Buttonholes are Bastards.” Her complaint is that all the common options are kind of ugly and floppy and though she offers a solution it’s rather complex and I’ve actually never tried it (shame on me!).

The common choices are the eyelet buttonhole (aka yarn over, knit 2 together), horizontal buttonholes made by binding off stitches and what’s commonly known as the one-row buttonhole, in which you bind off, turn back and cast on, then turn back and work across those stitches again, all in the same row. (Check out this video from Knitting Help if you need a visual.)

There’s a great roundup of your options at Vogue Knitting, which also has a tip for buttonhole spacing. There are lots of pictures in a tutorial from Knitty.

Do you have a buttonhole preference? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

[Photo via Knitty.]


  1. says

    Hi Sarah – Thanks for the great web sources for button holes. I tend to make buttonholes a couple of different ways, depending on the size of the button and the stitch pattern of the button band.

    If I just need a hole for a small button (like on a baby sweater), I usually do an eyelet buttonhole. If I need a bigger opening, I’ve usually knit a one row buttonhole. But none of mine come out as clean and lovely as the buttonhole in your photo :)


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