Buttonholed!

We get a lot of questions at the counter about the best way to make buttonholes. The answer, as usual, is “It depends” – on who you’re making the garment for, on the size of the button, on how wide your buttonband is. For a lot of purposes, the yarn-over buttonhole works a treat, so here’s a tutorial.

Every beginner knitter is familiar with the notion that if you put the yarn over the needle on one row and then knit the resultant loop on the next row, you end up with a hole. Like most so-called “mistakes”, this turns out to be very useful. You can make a buttonhole with it.

The first step, when you come to where you want your buttonhole to be, is simply to make a yarn over, by bringing the yarn to the front between the needles, and then backwards over the right hand needle. (And that’s all a yarn over is: just the action of putting the yarn round the right hand needle.)

The next step is to knit the next two stitches together, as shown in the picture: put the tip of your right hand needle through two stitches instead of just one, and knit them together.

And that’s it. You’ve just made a hole in your work with the yarn over, and you’ve compensated for that increase by decreasing a stitch immediately after by knitting two together.

And what’s more, you’ve just made the teeniest bit of lace. That’s all lace is: yarn overs and decreases paired with each other. And if you put a line of these holes in a row, you end up with a line of eyelets for tying ribbon through. Putting holes in your knitting on purpose is a very satisfying activity, and it all begins with a yarn over and a decrease!