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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!


A Thimble Glossary

A thimble is a device used to protect your finger as you push a needle through fabric while hand stitching. Surprisingly, there are actually quite a number of different thimble styles available. Everyone has their own preference as to which finger or which part of their finger they use to operate a thimble. As a result, the many thimble types take these preferences into consideration to give sewing enthusiasts the most comfortable option possible.

Classic Thimble

Most people are familiar with the classic thimble. It looks like a little cup made of metal (steel or brass) or plastic with small dimples that grab the end of the needle and prevent it from slipping as you push it through the fabric. It is worn on the finger tip. Some only have dimples on the top, others have them on the sides as well. Some have a convex top some have concave tops. Many quilters prefer a variation of this classic thimble that has slots as well as dimples. It is a little better at preventing slipping.

regular thimble

Open Sided Thimble

Topen sided thimblehe open sided thimble is worn at the finger tip but is used only in one direction.

Soft Comfort Thimble

soft comfort thimblePrym makes a hybrid of the above two styles. It is made of a soft and pliable material that is still strong. They call it the “soft comfort thimble”. It is quite similar to the open sided thimble.

Ring Thimble

Ring thimbles are worn around the finger as the name suggests. They come in a couple different styles: classic and with a plate. The classic style is a simple ring with dimples. The ring with a plate has a separate dimpled plate which is typically worn so that the plate rests on the hand at the base of the finger. These are adjustable.

Leather Thimble

Leather thimbles are available in a couple styles too. The simple classic style that fits over the top of the finger allows you to push the needle with the top of the finger or the side. My personal favourite is the coin thimble. This is a leather thimble, often worn on the thumb with a small dimpled metal “coin” in the side. I have had mine for over 20 years and it is still going strong after hand stitching many quilts.

Thermal Thimble

thermal thimblesAnd last but not least, a thimble for a slightly different purpose, the thermal thimble is intended to protect your finger and thumb as you press fabrics. They allow you to run your finger or thumb along the edge of your fabric immediately after you apply a hot iron. It’s always better to not cook your finger when you are sewing!


There are a number of companies that make thimbles and in my experience they all stand up quite nicely.

  • Clover,
  • Dritz,
  • Prym,
  • Singer, and
  • Tailorform

(in alphabetical order) are some of the most common brands.

They range in price from a few dollars to $20 each depending on the type.

Most styles come in various sizes to accommodate the best fit for everyone. Thankfully, most of them are inexpensive, so it doesn’t hurt if you need to try a few to find the one that’s just right. You will know you have found the right thimble for you when you forget that you have it on. It should become an extension of your finger or hand.

Whether you use a thimble or not, I wish you happy sewing.

Knitting Looms

Maybe you love the idea of knitting, but somehow the coordination of it hasn’t clicked for you. Or maybe, you have a young person in your life who you imagine would enjoy making things out of yarn.

You might like to try a knitting alternative: the knitting loom!

Everyone has their own preference as to what works well for them. For some people, making stuff with pointy sticks or a hook and some string makes them feel good. For other people wrapping yarn on a pegged board puts a smile on their face every time. I am a firm believer that each of us needs to try things out to find that activity that will consistently turn up our personal happy-meter! Continue reading “Knitting Looms”

Yarn Weight and Gauge

Have you ever bought or downloaded a knitting or crochet pattern and found yourself confused about what type of yarn you should use?

Trust me, you are not alone. As if there are not enough different weights of yarn, there are also different systems of identifying those weights. That’s where it can become very confusing. I don’t consider myself an expert on this, but I can at least give you a bit of an idea of what to look for on yarn labels and what to do to help you find what you need. Continue reading “Yarn Weight and Gauge”