How to Make a Button Hole in Knitting

Whether you’re a meticulous planner or have realized you forgot a buttonhole in your knitting project, Elizabeth Bagwell has you covered. Here’s a detailed guide to finding the perfect buttonhole for your knitting endeavors.

Many patterns come with explicit instructions on how to knit a buttonhole and suggest the appropriate button size. It’s advisable to add a buttonhole to your swatch to ensure that your chosen button complements the designer’s intended buttonhole. In cases where no specific guidance is provided, you have the freedom to explore different types of buttons and fastenings.

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Key Tips:

  • Buttonholes ideally should be slightly smaller than the button used, ensuring a snug fit without the risk of slipping out.

Five Types of Buttonholes to Explore:

Yarn Over Buttonhole:

  • Arguably the easiest to knit.
  • Work to the desired buttonhole location, then execute k2tog (knit two together) followed by YO (yarn over).
  • Results in a neat, round hole without altering the stitch count.
  • Ideal for smaller buttons.

Double Yarn Over Buttonhole:

  • Suited for larger buttons.
  • Perform a double yarn over and compensate with an extra decrease: (k2tog, YO) two times, SSK (slip slip knit).
  • Maintain buttonhole integrity by knitting one (K1) or purling one (P1) into the yarn over stitches on the following row.

Single-Row Buttonhole:

  • Recommended for wide buttons or fine yarn.
  • Cast off stitches on one row and cast on the same number at that spot on the following row.
  • Creates a horizontal slit in your knitting, allowing easy button insertion.

No-Buttonhole Buttonhole:

  • Ideal for chunky yarn or loose tension projects.
  • Gaps between stitches may be sufficient to fit your button without knitting a specific buttonhole.
  • Test compatibility by trying your buttons on your swatch or initial rows of knitting.
  • Particularly effective for long, thin toggle-shaped buttons.

After-Thought Buttonhole:

  • Perfect if you’ve forgotten to incorporate a buttonhole.
  • Add one after the fact by carefully snipping a stitch or two and sewing in the ends.
  • Popularized by knitting icon Elizabeth Zimmerman.

Whether you’re in the planning stages or making adjustments after finishing your knitting, this guide ensures you can confidently choose the right buttonhole technique for your project.

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