How To Knit A Buttonhole

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In this post, you will see how to knit a buttonhole in 5 different ways.

Many cardigan patterns and some other patterns will tell you to create a buttonhole and this can be done easily when you know-how!

The knitting pattern you are working from will tell you when to create a buttonhole and the size of the buttons that you need.

It’s a good idea to use buttons that are slightly larger than your buttonhole so that they fit through but are not able to slip back through the hole.

How to knit a buttonhole with lots of different types of buttons

1 hour 1 hour and 20 minutes.

How to knit a buttonhole

  1. A Yarn Over Buttonhole

    This is a common way to create a buttonhole.
    You can make the hole where you want it to be by K2tog, YO (knitting two stitches together, then yarn over).
    On the next row, work the yarn over as a regular stitch.
    This will create a small round hole without messing up your stitch count.
    It works well in a garter stitch button band, where it is concealed by the ridges of the garter stitch.

  2. A Double Yarn Over Buttonhole

    For a larger buttonhole, you can do a double yarn over buttonhole and an extra decrease.
    Like this – (K2tog, YO) twice, SSK.
    Translated = (knit two stitches together, yarn over) twice then slip, slip, knit.
    Double yarn over means that you will wrap the yarn around the needle twice.
    To keep the continuity of the buttonhole, K1, P1 (or P1, K1) into the yarn over stitches on the following row.
    You can work all other stitches as set by the pattern.

  3. Casting Off Stitches Buttonhole

    To create a buttonhole in ribbing (and other stitch patterns) you can cast off stitches on one row and then cast on stitches on the next row.
    With the right side of your work facing, when you get to your buttonhole, cast off the number of stitches (how many depends on how big the buttons are).
    On the next row, when you get to the buttonhole, cast on the same number of stitches that you cast off and continue working.
    This creates a horizontal slit in your knitting, which you can fit a button through.
    In ribbing, this is easily done to create a small buttonhole without making a mess of your stitch pattern.

  4. Not Making A Buttonhole At All

    If you are working with a bulky, super bulky yarn or a loose tension, you may not even need to create a buttonhole.
    You should be able to fit the button through a gap somewhere in the stitches.
    You can test this out on a swatch before you begin your pattern to see if this will work or not.

  5. Making A Buttonhole When You Are Finished

    You can also make a buttonhole after you have finished your project by cutting a thread or two in the fabric where you want the hole to go and stitching that thread or threads securely once a hole has been made.
    This may seem a little risky cutting into your knitted fabric but if you need a buttonhole it could be worth it!

buttonhole rows and buttons

Claire’s Cardigan Buttonholes

For Claire’s cardigan knitting pattern you will need to create ribbed buttonholes in the ribbed band of the cardigan on the right front.

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On the ribbed section of the right front collar you will need to work buttonholes.

I have worked 6 buttonholes using the following buttonhole rows from working rows 1 and 2 in the in the 4 stitch rep patt:

  • Row 1 (RS): P1, K1, P1, K1, Cast off 1 st, P1, K1, P1, K1, sm, *K1, P1* rep from * to * the end of the row.
  • Row 2 (WS): *K1, P1* rep from * to * to marker, sm, P1, K1, P1, K1, cast on 1 st, K1, P1, K1.

You will cast off 1 st in row 1 and then cast on 1 st in row 2 to make the button hole.

Claire's blue cardigan buttonhole

How The Buttonholes Were Measured Out

  • The buttonholes were measured by adding closed stitch markers to the left front at 3 inches apart.
  • They were then worked opposite on the right front.
  • You will work the buttonhole rows into the right front when you are knitting.
  • You can adjust the measurement of the buttons (greater than 3 inches apart if you wish) or to add more buttons.
  • If your yarn allows, you may not even need buttonholes, they may just fit through the ribbing.
  • You can see in the photos below, where the buttonholes were measured out on the left front first at 3 inches apart then worked to be opposite on the right front.
Claire's blue cardigan front

So Where Do I Make The Buttonholes?

Where you place the buttonholes is up to you.

You may want to place them exactly where I placed them on this cardigan – 3 inches apart or you may want them to have a greater spacing from each other.

You may also want to add more buttons if that is your preference.

Depending on the knitted fabric, you may not even need buttonholes as the buttons may just slip through.

The buttons I used measure 0.75-inch diameter.

I bought extra in case I wanted to add more once the cardigan was finished.

small silver button and buttonhole

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and that it has helped you to learn more about creating buttonholes in your knitting!

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