How to Knit Buttonholes

When teaching my finishing classes, I am often asked about working neat buttonholes. I’ve tried many different techniques over the years and never loved any of the results – they seemed to sag and stretch – so I often avoided buttonholes completely.

But then I tried my technique for a neat underarm bind-off (when knitting a sweater bottom-up) and found it resulted in a neat, almost invisible hole. This method also hides the holes in the valleys created by purl stitches on the right side. I’ve given directions for both a one-stitch buttonhole in k1, p1 rib and a two-stitch buttonhole in K2, P2 rib.

One-stitch buttonhole in K1, P1 rib

1

Step 1

Mark where you want to create buttonholes (these will be purl sts when looking at your RS).

2

Step 2

On RS, work in pattern to the k st before your marked/purl buttonhole st.

3

Step 3

Into this k st, kf&b.

4

Step 4

P your buttonhole st

5

Step 5

BO the purl st (using the extra st you made by knitting into the back of that knit st).

6

Step 6

Pass the resulting st from your right needle to your left needle.

7

Step 7

K2tog (the extra st with the next k st).

Continue in pattern until 1 st before the next buttonhole/purl st and repeat from Step 1 above.

In the next WS row, backwards loop CO 1 st over each of the BO purl sts.

Two-stitch buttonhole in K2, P2 rib

1

Step 1

Mark where you want to create buttonholes (these will be 2 purl sts when looking at your RS).

2

Step 2

On RS, work in pattern to the k st before your marked/purl buttonhole sts.

3

Step 3

Into this k st, Kf&b.

4

Step 4

P your buttonhole st

5

Step 5

BO the purl st (using the extra st you made by knitting into the back of that knit st). BO one more st purlwise.

6

Step 6

Pass the resulting st from your right needle to your left needle.

7

Step 7

K2tog (the extra st with the next k st).

Continue in pattern until 1 st before the next buttonhole/purl st and repeat from Step 1 above.

In the next WS row, backwards loop CO 1 st over each of the 2 BO purl sts. In the next RS row, when you come to the newly CO st, M1R p-wise into the extra slack of this CO.

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