Knitting Buttonholes

There are many ways to make buttonholes. Three of the most common are the horizontal, the vertical, and the yarn over. The pattern instructions indicate which buttonhole to use, and the materials section lists the number and size of the buttons needed. It's best to buy the buttons before you work the buttonholes so you know exactly what size to make them.

Buttonholes in knitting will stretch slightly with wear, so it's a good idea to make the buttonhole slightly smaller than the button. Don't buy buttons with pointed, rough, or sharp edges; they can snag fibers and wear through the yarn very quickly.

Horizontal Buttonhole

The horizontal buttonhole is sometimes called the two-row buttonhole because it takes two rows to complete it.

Step 1: On the right side of your knitting, work the specified number of stitches to the beginning of the buttonhole. Then bind off the required number of stitches and continue in pattern across the row. (Remember that it takes two stitches to bind off the first stitch.) Count your stitches at the end of the row, subtracting the number you were told to bind off.

Step 2: On the wrong side, work across the row to the bound-off stitches. Cast on the specified number using the simple cast-on or the cable cast-on. Continue in pattern across the row. Count your stitches to make sure you're back to the original stitch count.

Horizontal Buttonhole: Figure 23
Horizontal Buttonhole: Figure 23

Vertical Buttonhole

Both sides of this buttonhole are worked at the same time, using separate balls of yarn. If you don't have a spare ball of yarn, wind a small ball before beginning the buttonhole.

Step 1: Working on the wrong-side row and using the working yarn, work across the body of the garment to the desired place for the buttonhole. Drop the working yarn and pick up the new yarn ball. Join the new yarn ball and, beginning with the next stitch, work to the end of the row. The stitch count remains the same.

Step 2: Still using the new yarn, work across to the buttonhole. Drop the new yarn and pick up the working yarn. Using the working yarn, work to the other end of the row. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the buttonhole is desired length.

Last row: With working yarn, work to the buttonhole and continue to the end of the row. Cut the new yarn, and weave in the loose ends. Continue in pattern, using the working yarn.

Yarn Over Buttonhole

This buttonhole is easy to make and is useful for garments, such as baby clothing, that need a small buttonhole. It's also self-enlarging, creating larger buttonholes when thicker yarns are used. It is worked over two stitches as follows: Work to where you want the buttonhole, then work yarn over (yo), knit two together (k2tog). The stitch count remains the same on this row.

Even the most experienced knitters make mistakes. Learn how to fix knitting mistakes on the next page.