Buttonholes!

Beginnings of Billy's Girl Sweater

Last week, I started a new project, Billy’s Girl Flared Cardigan. I wanted a project that was relatively small and easy to take along in the car (this time we drove to Kansas City to attend our granddaughter's graduation).  It was exactly the right choice.   It is hard to resist the mini cables and flared design of this baby sweater.  It’s fun to knit and so unbelievably cute on a baby girl.  Knitted top-down, the cables begin after a five-row garter stitch edge. Once established, the pattern was easy to remember—four rows with increases on the right side for the raglan sleeves.    Establishing the pattern, however, took some concentration so I casted on and knitted the first several rows before hitting the road.  You might notice that there are several stitch markers.  I used Beekeeper's Hexagon Stitch Markers to mark where the directions called for increases and Rainbow Ring Markers for the others.  Using distinctive markers helped me remember to increase in the correct places.

Shortly after beginning the pattern, it was time to start making buttonholes (there are five along the front garter stitch band. There are several methods to making buttonholes and most patterns provide directions for them based on the designer’s preference. Frequently, they are knitted in a front band and can be either vertical or horizontal depending on whether the band is knitted as part of the sweater or added later.  The band of the Billy’s Girl Flared Cardigan is knitted as part of the body with horizontal buttonholes every 2 inches.

The directions call for a k2tog (knit 2 together) yarn over combination to make the buttonholes. This method is usually used because it is simple to do and works well for small buttons and sweaters that do not put much stress on the buttonhole. It can be a good choice for a baby sweater. Below is a tutorial by TheKnitwitch (Knitwitch.com) demonstrating this method.

Although the technique is just fine, the resulting buttonhole doesn’t look polished.  In an effort to achieve a stronger and more finished look, I used the horizontal one-row method. This method has you slip stitches over the working stitches on the bind off row, which makes the bottom of the buttonhole. Next, the work is turned and you a cable cast on the number of stitches that were slipped to create the top of the buttonhole.  It may sound complicated, but it is quite simple. You can see it demonstrated in the tutorial below, on Knitting with Suzanne Bryan YouTube channel.  If you have not tried this method, I would recommend that you give it a try.

A great way to learn more about buttonholes is to practice.  Just pick a couple of styles and try them out in a swatch.  This allows you to focus and practice on a small piece of fabric.  It is fun and makes it easier to work the right buttonhole once you are knitting your sweater.