Vertical Buttonholes: A Tutorial

6 January, 2010 at 11:03 pm (knitting)

Sorry for the absence this week—I’m working on a stealth project so I’ve nothing to show for all of the effort I’ve put in. One thing I did do, though, was play around with a buttonhole idea; I’m not going to be able to include it in the project, which means I don’t have to keep my mouth shut about it!

So, vertical buttonholes. There are a dozen different reasons why you might want them rather than the usual yarn over or horizontal ones in handknits. The biggest case for them that I can see is when you actually want your buttonholes to be horizontal, but are working perpendicularly, like when knitting a buttonband onto a sweater. You’d want the buttonholes to be horizontal relative to the sweater because that way, any sideways pulling on the buttons will only pull the buttonholes tighter. If the buttonholes are vertical in relation to the sweater, then sideways pulling will actually cause the buttonholes to open wider.

The problem of course is that there’s no easy way to get a vertical gap in there without working the two sides separately, which is a pain. Yarn over buttonholes do work but can be too small for the buttons you’d like to use, and are often prone to stretching out and becoming unstable. What oh what is a knitter to do?

This is my five row vertical buttonhole; it is both wonderfully tidy and quite easy to work, which means it’s my new favorite technique, since I am a fan of both of those things. It’s best worked at a fairly firm gauge, as it tends to become loose and sloppy when worked in a lacy, open fabric. (Then again, you probably wouldn’t be needing vertical buttonholes in lacy fabric anyway!)

First thing you need to do is to work to the point where you’d like the buttonhole to start, on the right side. You’ll need three stitches to work each one, so be sure to factor that into your spacing. Once you’ve gotten to the first of your three stitches: k1 tbl, double yarn over (wrap the yarn around the needle twice):
row1doubleyo (by jesh\)
then k2tog.

Finish the row and work back to the buttonhole on the wrong side. P1 tbl, drop both previous yarn overs from the needle, make a new yarn over:
row2yo (by jesh\)
p1 tbl and finish the row as normal.

Once you’ve come back to the buttonhole on the right side, k1 tbl, drop the last yarn over, make a new one:
row3yo (by jesh\)
k1 tbl, and finish the row again. This is the point where you’re probably looking at me like I’m crazy and wondering how the heck all the ladders you’ve just made could possibly turn into a buttonhole, let alone a good looking one. I promise it’ll all work out in just a few seconds!

Back on the wrong side again, you’re going to work in the same manner, purling the stitches on either side through the back loop and dropping the yarn over, only this time, don’t make a new yarn over—this helps keep the buttonhole from getting floppy.

To finish off the buttonhole, work to it on the right side and knit the first stitch normally. Now stop and take a look at your work; you should see four ladders like this:
row5loosestrands (by jesh\)

What you want to do is put your righthand needle underneath those four strands…
row5pickup (by jesh\)

Wrap the working yarn around the righthand needle…
row5wraparound (by jesh\)

And draw the new stitch out through the front, so that you’ve picked it up from the strands.
row5newstitch (by jesh\)

That’s all you need to do! Keep working as normal and after a few rows you’ll have something that looks like this:
finishedverticalbuttonhole (by jesh\)

Simple, easy, nice and neat buttonhole!

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