My Kingdom for a Proper Buttonhole!

When I first started knitting, the “go to” buttonhole was a simple eyelet. You know the kind….k2 tog, YO. It made a small hole, depending on the weight of the yarn, and you then had to buy the button that would work with this hole. Fast forward to today. Lots of different techniques, as well as I-cord loops that you attached afterwards. In fact, Elizabeth Zimmerman (name spoken in hushed, reverent tones) even suggested an afterthought buttonhole, where you actually took scissors to your finished piece to snip out a stitch and unravel and pick up and……okay, okay. I start having palpitations, too.

Enter the “one row buttonhole”. A number of different designers use this method, but my first experience with it was when I knit “Cria”, by Ysolda Teague. (That pattern, by the way, is a great little top down cardigan). There were MANY buttonholes required, and I wanted them to look uniform and neat and professional. So here goes the basic instructions……..

You can make this buttonhole over any number of stitches, so it can accommodate even the largest of buttons. In your pattern, you will be directed to work your buttonhole over x number of stitches. Work your piece to the place where you need to put in the buttonhole. Knit one stitch. Bring your yarn to the front between the two needles. Slip one stitch purlwise (as if to purl, in other words), place your yarn to the back (effectively wrapping that stitch) and then pass that slip stitch over the K1 that you just did. You are going to leave your yarn where it is. Slip the next stitch as if to purl, then pass the previous slip stitch over. Continue this until you have the required number of stitches bound off for your buttonhole, less one. Slip that last stitch remaining on your right needle to the left needle, and turn your work. With the wrong side facing, cable cast on the total number of buttonhole stitches (or, the number you cast off in the last step plus one, to get the total). Your new stitches will be piling up on the left needle. Before you put that last cast on stitch on the needle, bring the yarn to the front between the needles, and then put that last stitch on the left needle with the others. Turn your work to the front now. Slip the next stitch knitwise and pass the last cast on stitch over it. Ta da! Stitch count is re-established and you have yourself one tidy buttonhole.

If you want to see some pictures that show you how to do this, go to

This is an excerpt from Ysolda Teague’s book, “Little Red in the City”

Now go make yourself some really cool buttonholes………..




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