Hello fellow crafty people :)
I'm one of those pernickety knitters who likes buttonholes to be tidy, symmetrical and well-behaved. All the buttonholes I tried had little things that annoyed me, the major one being that the 'cast on' edge when stitches were replaced didn't match the edge created when the stitches were cast off.
They also had a tendency to stretch out of shape when used and, inevitably, they ended up failing to live up to their job - buttons would slip out of them all the time. Ugh.
I sat down one day and spent several hours fiddling and twiddling with all sorts of variations. In the end I settled on this hybrid that reinforces the corner in a similar way to a one-row buttonhole I had found described by Elizabeth Zimmermann but uses a crocheted provisional cast on.
If you know how to knit chains by doing a yarn over and passing the stitch on the right needle over it you can get by without using a crochet hook at all.
The result is the strongest, tidiest (from both sides!) best-behaved buttonhole I was able to devise. The instructions may look long and a little intimidating but once practiced a couple of times the buttonhole itself is very fast to do. If you've been frustrated by buttonholes like I have, give this one a try instead.
I hope you enjoy making them... Megan
Instructions with Pictures
Once you have worked through the instructions with pictures you should find
the following, much more succinct directions, quite sufficient.
Megan's Reinforced Buttonhole - Words Only
If working in rib work up to a purl stitch and 'cast off' to a purl stitch
to get the tidiest result in the following instructions. I worked this
example on a ribbing band 12 stitches wide and I cast off a total of 4
Bring yarn to near side, Slip 1 purlwise, take yarn to far side, Slip 1
purlwise. Pass the first slipped stitch over the second. Slip another
stitch purlwise; pass prior slipped stitch over it. Continue in this manner
'casting off' the required number of stitches.
Put the last stitch back on to the left needle, reversing the mount.
Hooking the first loop through the two bars of yarn directly under the centre
of the last stitch on the right needle use a crochet hook the same size as
your knitting needles to make one less chain* than the number of stitches
you have 'cast off'. As I cast off 4 stitches I made 3 chain.
Now pull the first stitch on the left needle through your last chain and put
it back onto the left needle. If your first stitch on the left needle is a
Purl replace it so the yarn is on the near side between the first and second
*Note: The chains must be just a little looser than you would normally make
with the yarn because they will be tightened by the next row. You might need
to experiment a little to find just the right size to make the chains for
your yarn and tension.
Work to the end in the pattern established (so if, for example, you are
doing rib, purl the purls and knit the knits). Note that I actually worked
the first stitch on the left needle.
When you come to the chains again pick up replacement stitches purlwise or
knitwise (as required to keep your established pattern) in the back ridge of
each chain. The back ridge is the little 'bump' on the back of the chains,
as contrasted with the smooth 'V' on the front of the chains. Make sure
you've got them all, count them now. Continue with your knitting as usual.
Four handy hints regarding buttonholes
- Position buttonholes so that their ends are where you want the buttons to sit. If you position the middle of them where you want the buttons to sit the buttons will slide to the end of the buttonholes anyway once any stress is applied and the buttons ends up off-centre.
- Use horizontal buttonholes when the stress is pulling sideways and vertical buttonholes when the stress is pulling downwards. When stress is applied it 'pulls' the buttonhole more closed around the button. If you do it the other way the stress helps to pull the buttonhole open - exactly what you do not want. This is why buttonhole bands on cardigans that have vertical buttonholes so often have trouble with the buttons popping undone.
- When it comes to remembering which side to put the buttonholes on for Men's or Women's garments - Women are always right!
- If you're making a garment for a baby that is on its way and you don't know whether it is a boy or girl you can put buttonholes on both sides and 'close' the buttonholes that are not required when you sew the buttons over them.