Constructing a Simple Knitted Buttonhole

comments (6) November 6th, 2008     

Pin It

Tina_Hilton Tina Hilton, contributor
Love it! 42 users recommend
Insert the tip of your left needle into the loop on the right needle.
Now, drop the stitch off the left needle.
Here is what the first bound-off stitch looks like.
Insert the tip of your left needle into the loop on the right needle.

Insert the tip of your left needle into the loop on the right needle.

Photo: Tina Hilton

Buttonholes are not difficult; it’s just a matter of binding off and casting on a few stitches. Most knitted items that incorporate a buttonhole are knitted either on a button band knitted separately from the body and attached later or are knitted right into the garment itself. Practice this foolproof technique and you will be prepared to tackle those sweet cardigan patterns you have been coveting. Imagine all the beautiful buttons you can adorn that perfect little sweater with. Buttonholes are also handy for home décor projects.

Easy Two-Row Buttonhole
Calculating the buttonhole size takes a little preplanning. On the row you would like the buttonhole, bind off the number of stitches you need to create the size buttonhole you would like. Most patterns will have done the math for you, but I’ll lay it out for you in case you are doing it from scratch. How big do you want the buttonhole? Refer to the gauge you are working with to determine how many stitches per inch you have. If you are making a baby sweater, you will use a tiny button and make a small buttonhole. If you are making a super-chunky sweater for yourself, you may have one up to 2 inches. Let’s make the big one for demonstration purposes.

The yarn I am using is worsted weight, and on a size 10 needle the gauge is 3.5 stitches per inch. I’d like to use a dramatic 1-1/2-inch button, which means I need a buttonhole slightly smaller than the button to keep a snug fit. Remember that knitted buttonholes have a tendency to stretch, so don’t make yours too big. Binding off 4 stitches (4 divided by 3.5 = 1.14 inches) is too small. Binding off 5 stitches (5 divided by 3.5 = 1.43 inches) is perfect!

Row one (purl row)
Purl to buttonhole placement, bind off 5 stitches as follows:
Purl 2, then with the tip of the left needle carry the first stitch purled over the second stitch purled, one stitch remains.

Insert the tip of your left needle into the loop on the right needle.


Now, drop the stitch off the left needle.


Here is what the first bound-off stitch looks like.

 *Purl, carry the original stitch over, one stitch remains. Repeat from * 3 more times for a total of 5 stitches bound off.

If you bind off on the purl side, you will have a neater buttonhole.

Row two

You are now ready to cast on stitches.

Knit to the bound-off stitches and cast on 5 stitches. The easiest way to cast on stitches is to use the backwards loop cast-on (aka the single cast-on). Make a backwards loop, place it over the right-hand needle, and repeat until you have 5 new stitches on the needle.

Lay the yarn so that the tail goes behind the yarn attached to your work to create a backwards loop.


These five cast-on stitches look good.

Row three
When you reach the 5 cast-on stitches, purl through the back of the stitches, which will provide a tight, secure stitch.

Purling into the back of the loop will offer additional stability to the buttonhole.


A buttonhole to be proud of!
posted in: Knitted buttonhole, two row buttonhole, backward loop cast on, single cast on

Comments (6)

Aleehelor writes: Excellent tutorial and great idea!
Posted: 2:07 am on September 7th
Falimasofty writes: I'm your fan!!!
Posted: 4:23 am on May 12th
suejanet writes: I agree entirely with Harlenes. These are the best instructions I have seen - I am back to knitting for my granddaughter after a break of 15 years and there are just a couple of things I have simply forgotten how to do.
Thank you very much.
Posted: 2:43 pm on September 6th
Harlenes writes: Hi Tina,
Your instructions on the buttonhole were so much better than either of the reference books I have. You saved me a lot of time and effort. I'm another newbie to knitting (7 months). Thank you!
May the most you desire be the least you receive!
Posted: 7:43 pm on January 27th
Tina_Hilton writes: Hi Newbieinlove - Thanks for your kind words. Have fun with the wristlets! Tina
Posted: 6:52 pm on January 7th
newbieinlove writes: you are quickly becoming my favorite contributor

the pictures showing how to are very clear and I believe I will make a pair of wristlets before the winter is out!

thank you!
Posted: 9:59 pm on January 6th
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.