Knitted Horizontal Buttonholes

Have you ever avoided a knitting pattern because it included buttonholes? I have to admit, I haven’t always been particularly proud of my knitted buttonholes. I decided it was time to do something about it. After a bunch of YouTube tutorials and some practice I’m feeling a lot better about it and I thought I would share my exploration with you.

There are a number of ways to knit buttonholes.

In today’s blog I will only talk about horizontal buttonholes. We’ll expand into other territory next week. Essentially, making this type of buttonhole requires that you cast off enough stitches to create a big enough hole for your button size and then cast them on again.

There are two basic approaches to knitting horizontal buttonholes:

  • the one-row
  • and the two-row.

The one-row buttonhole does this all in one procedure over (you guessed it) one row.

The biggest advantage to this is that you can check the size against your button right away.

If it doesn’t fit well, you don’t have to frog very much to change it. For the two-row buttonhole, you cast off, knit to the end of the row, return on the wrong side and then cast on to complete the buttonhole. Although there are really just two ways to do this, if you have ever done a search for horizontal buttonhole tutorials you will discover that there seems to be an endless list of them. Why?! Because there are a lot of different cast on methods that you can choose from to complete your buttonhole. Also, some methods reinforce the beginning and/or end of the buttonholes while others don’t.

I am a firm believer that every one of us needs to find their favourite way to do things.

I recommend that you knit up a swatch and give these various methods a try. Chances are you will find one that you love the look, construction and method for. I tried to sift through what I found on YouTube and organize a variety of them for you.

Simple two-row buttonhole (with backward loop cast on).

This is an easy and very straightforward buttonhole. I personally am not inspired by this one although it certainly does the job. I find that it doesn’t look the nicest compared to others and it has a tendency to stretch out. If you are really careful to keep the stitches snug at the beginning of it, that can help. It’s definitely nice and easy. 🙂

Find here

Simple two-row buttonhole (with cable cast on).

The cable cast on method gives a sturdier top edge to the buttonhole. This is easy to do and I have found that when I do it this way it doesn’t stretch out quite as easily as the previous one.

Find Here

Reinforced two-row buttonhole

This one does seem a little complicated when you first watch it. It’s worth giving it a go though. After you do it a couple times it starts to make more sense.

Find Here

My personal preference is to do a one-row buttonhole. Again, the differences are mainly in the type of cast on used.

One-row buttonhole (using twisted purl-wise cast on).

This is a great buttonhole for garter stitch or seed stitch. The twisted purl-wise cast on is a nice easy one to do; similar to the cable cast on and not very stretchy compared to the backward loop cast on, for instance. This disappears into the “ditch” of the garter stitch.

Find here

One row buttonhole (using crochet cast on).

This buttonhole looks really nice because the cast on creates a chain along the top that mirrors the cast off.

Find here

Reinforced one-row buttonhole. This one is very strong and it doesn’t stretch out. It also looks attractive. It does tend to pull in at the sides just a bit.

Find here

Tight One-row buttonhole

This is a pretty cool (and really easy) buttonhole. It makes a sturdy buttonhole that won’t stretch out. And because of that it’s great that you can test it immediately to be sure that the button will fit.

As I mentioned there are endless videos of buttonhole demonstrations. I’m sure there are many that I didn’t even get to. But this sampling should help if you want to explore a few. With any luck one of them will stand out and maybe even become your new favourite.

Happy knitting!


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