Wintertrui 2014: on button bands

Right. I’ve knitted the collar, focusing on shortrowing in the neck and making those pockets.

Lots of short rows to give the neck just a little bit of blue (green) and the collar lots:

I’ve knitted merrily along and now it’s time to start the button band. This needs some pondering.

Putting button holes into plain stockinette stitch will stretch the fabric terrible because all the force of the button is put on just a few stitches. This happens also when you’ve got garter stitch instead of stockinette stitch (to prevent the curling).

Besides that the outer edge of the button hole ban will crumple up, making indentations as show by this baby cardigan F578 by Plymouth Yarn Design Studio. It has a button band of just garter stitch and it has non-reinforced button holes in it:

You see it has little waves where the buttons are.
The edge does have a nice amount of extra garter stitch rows so the button doesn’t stretch the hole straight out of its surrounding fabric.
But it’s the waves I don’t want.

If you want a button band to lie flat when buttoned up it ought to be reinforced.
Criollo cardigan by Justyna Lorkowska does this by ribbing the button band on a smaller needle and adding a sturdy i-cord to the edge. It lies flat even though the cardigan is form fitting:

That’s good knit-engineering because even when fully closed (with quite a bit of pull on the fabric and the button holes band) it’s fairly flat. Only minor waves going on.
And what a nice border!

On a side note: so lovely to wear a fitted cardigan with a happy skirt. Makes me go all summery in the head and wanting to twirl. (However, I don’t see the point of woolen cardigans that fit close around the body when said body is kinda hot and sweaty from Summer and twirling. I’d keep washing my knits. I’m too lazy for that. I mean efficient)

Anyway, back to thinking about the button band for my winter sweater.
My preference would be a Double Knitted button band with an i-cord edging. No curling, no flipping, no stretching, no waves.

I found this tutorial by Pieknits helpful.

On the next row you double all the stitches (k, ktbl) and then work the rows *k1,p1* with two separate yarns. One for the k stitches and one for the p stitches. Pieknits works them at the same time, bringing two strands along. When I did the double knitting at the borders of my pockets I worked with one strand, bringing it up working the k stitches and slipping the p’s. And then down working the p stitches (which were k stitches seen from the WS) and slipping the others.

Pieknits also explains double knitting should be done on needles two sizes smaller than the main knitting. This makes sense since basically you are knitting ribbing. And with two yarns at that, which adds extra bulk.
It explains why the borders of my pockets are so ruffled, I did not go down in needle size. (I will tighten them in the back with a row of crochet I think)

Yes, a double knit button band will give excellent button holes.
Pieknits shows in her excellent tutorial how to make the actual holes. She lets you cast on new stitches with the two yarns while at the same time you bind off existing stitches. It’s a nice trick, without breaking yarns or having to sew in threads.

I’m partial to Tulips button holes by Techknitter because it reinforces the short sides of the hole. I’ll see what I’ll do. Perhaps only incorporate the wrapping of the stitches on the side…

I leave you with cardigan pattern Lewenwick from Gudrun Johnston who uses the tendency for button holes to make waves as a design element:

Emphasized by using a wavy lace pattern for the button hole.
Smart engineering 🙂


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