Tuesday, June 3, 2014

'In The Ditch' Buttonholes

(Click on photo to enlarge)

I recently knit a cardigan with 1x1 vertical ribbed button and buttonhole bands.  The bands were single layered and I had quite a time getting the tension low enough so that the bands wouldn’t stretch out of shape so badly when buttoned.  It looked really nice until I put it on and button it and the buttons pulled more on the buttonholes than I liked.  The buttonhole technique I had been using were made vertically for 4 rows by putting half the needles in hold position, then knitting 4 rows on the needles in work, then putting the other half of the needles in hold position and knitting 4 rows on the opposite needles in work.  The buttonholes themselves worked and looked great but like I say, the ribbing wasn’t firm enough to look nice.

So I went on a mission to find the perfect buttonhole technique to solve my problem.  I found a video on a technique called ‘In the Ditch’ buttonholes at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjjvm9cZK0k.  It was from one of the free videos offered by Knit-It-Now some time ago and I miraculously remembered that I had saved it.  It’s now available on You Tube.  I have heard from others that this is not a new technique and has been around for quite awhile.  But it's new to me and gives me another option when traditional buttonholes just don't work.

It worked quite well for my cardigan.  I lowered the tension as much as my yarn would knit well and knit one strip of ribbing long enough to go around the entire length of one front side, plus the back neck, plus the other front side.  I had about 550 rows on my midgauge machine and it went quite fast.  I scrapped off the end so I’d have free stitches to unravel to needed length, then I did a hand crocheted slip stitch after the band was sewn on and I knew how long it needed to be.  I mattress stitched the band on, leaving about 5 rows open in the seam to create the buttonhole. 

I can see a few advantages to this method.  No measuring and calculating where the buttonholes should be while knitting the band.  I marked where the buttonholes should be on the cardigan front and ‘made’ the buttonholes as I seamed the band on.  Secondly, there is less stretching of a single layered band.  And this technique could be used with machine or hand knitted projects as well. 

One disadvantage might be that it maybe wouldn’t lend itself nicely to wider bands.  The button band on this particular cardy is a little over an inch wide and my buttons are about 7/8” wide and I'm quite pleased with the result.

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