Horizontal buttonholes

Buttonholes on my Cambridge Cardigan, using Anna Zilboorg’s “perfect buttonhole” technique.

I am going to mention two techniques to add tidy horizontal buttonholes to a button band, one by Anna Zilboorg and one by Sue Neatby.

These two techniques produce really neat buttonholes. They are for buttonholes in the same direction of the knitted fabric, so work well for e.g. a double stocking stitch button band that is folded over.

Both techniques are based on grafting, and in both the buttonhole opening is obtained by knitting the width of the buttonhole with waste yarn, which is then removed to reveal the opening.

Anna Zilboorg’s technique “melts” the buttonholes into the fabric, so that you can hardly see them. To the contrary, Lucy Neatby’s technique makes quite a statement of them, since buttonholes are framed by yarn, and if in contrasting colour this can be quite decorative. I guess which one is best depends on the project (and your preferences).

Screenshot from Lucy Neatby’s video – pattern is the Fiesta Vest

I have used Anna Zilboorg’s buttonholes, so I will dwell on those a bit more. For Lucy Neatby’s technique however I have a video further below.

In broad terms, Anna Zilboorg’s “perfect buttonhole” technique consists in knitting the stitches where the buttonhole will be with waste yarn, slipping them back and knitting them over, then picking up stitches above and below and knit them with the facing on the WS of the button band. This is for horizontal buttonholes, assuming that you are working them on a button band. The button band will be worked for twice its width, then folded over, so that half of the right side will become the facing on the wrong side.

It goes as follows:

  • Setup. Work as many rows as you need for half of the height of the button band (e.g. if the button band is 10 rows wide, work 5 rows). For each buttonhole:
    1. work up to where you want your buttonhole to be (e.g. work 10 Sts before each buttonhole);
    2. work the width of the buttonhole (one, two, three or how many stitches you need) with waste yarn
    3. slip the stitches worked with the waste yarn back onto the left needle and work them with your main yarn.

Repeat the setup for each buttonhole. Next work twice as many rows as those worked before the buttonholes (e.g. if you had worked 5, now work ten) + one (this is for the folding). Next:

  • Creating buttonholes.
    1. work up to where the button hole will be (e.g. work 10 stitches);
    2. work the width of the buttonhole (one, two, three or how many stitches you need) with waste yarn
    3. slip the stitches worked with the waste yarn back onto the left needle and work them with your main yarn.

The above cannot substitute for the twenty minutes video with the creator of this technique, which I bought from Interweave here (a preview is here).

Neatby’s magic buttonhole was first introduce into her Finesse your knitting 1 DVD – there is also a pdf explaining the technique here and an 11 minute video here:

Lucy Neatby’s magic buttonhole

I will try this in my next buttoned project, I am eying a summer top which may just be perfect for it!

Author: lovestoswatch

I used to knit as a girl, then hanged the needles for two/three decades, and now I’m back, and loving it! The photo is my version of Linda Marveng's Aki, the first proper project after "being born again". After getting back into knitting, weaving has also become my passion (with a little sewing to turn my handweaving into garments).

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