Ugly Holes

Just finishing up a fairly nice cable vest, actually its the "Gray Cabled Vest'' on pg. 123 of 'Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them", although I didn't do it in grey but a dark charcoal Aran Tweed from Rowan. I am almost finished the button band. I am not used to doing button holes and there seemed to be so many choices offered in the books it was hard to know which one to use. Anyway, they are done and they are ugly. Not nice neat slit holes which I was hoping for but great gaping mishapen things. Kind of disappointing but I am hoping that I can somehow make them look better with blocking, and if need be, hand stiching around them somehow to pull them together and give them a nicer shape.
I got looking at the various buttonhole methods in the Vogue knitting book and elsewhere and I have to say I think that most knitted buttonholes are pretty ugly and uneven. Even the ones in the books which presumably are done well. Maybe I will stick to pullovers from now on.


albert's picture

Have you considered crocheting around them?

Dude! Buttonholes are just lace adornments. Lace is ALWAYS "hairy butt ugly" until it's dressed/blocked.

Wet that baby down in very tepid water with a cap of Eucolan for about 20 minutes, gently squeeze out as much water as you can (remembering that with Eucolan you don't/shouldn't rince) then place on a double towel on the kitchen floor. Roll up the thing in the towel and walk on it several times to get the rest of the water out.

Unroll the thing and lay out on your blocking board or your bed or dining room floor. Stretch out/ease into the desired shape/size. PIN yer buttonholes into shape with sturdy pins (not on a water bed ! ! ! ) and let dry. If you see some shrinkage as it drys, just keep easing it back into shape and repin the button holes.

Easy Peasy, as Mario would say . . .

~Mike in Tampa
Yahoo Id: stickywarp2001

Asplund's picture

Got to make a note of this - sounds like an excellent method. I avoid button holes simply because mine get so eye-bleedingly ugly (one usually looks like two!) and I have to stitch them into shape afterwards.

Follow Mike's advice and remember that when you have done all that the buttons will hide the button holes.

RareSteek's picture

Thank you guys. I dont know how to crochet, Albert, and it traumatises me to attempt it (I did once). lol. I wish I did but I dont. Someday maybe. Also, Mike, what is Eucolan? Is it like one of those wool detergent type things, such as Zero? I really appreciate the encouragment and advice, you folks are great. Thank you.


Eucolan is a wool/fibre detergent. It contains Eucalyptus oil which is an insect repellent and doesn't need to be rinsed. Available online, or at your favorite LYS.

~Mike in Tampa
Yahoo Id: stickywarp2001

KilgoreTrout's picture

I took weeks just doing swatches with button holes, trying to find the perfect technique to get rid of the darn holes. There were several techniques online, and I sort of combined a few of them to create an "ultimate button hole". Alas, my data was lost, and I'll have to try and find the technique again the hard way.
The best quick fix, in my opinion, is either to ignore it and realize that non-knitters will not notice, or, fill in the holes with mirror stitch and even the knitters might not notice :)

If wishes and buts were clusters and nutes we'd all have a bowl of granola.

HuskerChub's picture

I'm pretty sure you are talking about button holes that are 3-5 stitches wide and I really don't have an answer except to repeat what has been said already. However, I do have a nice little trick for a "pig's eye" button hole that works very well. Now I know you are all asking "what the H3ll is a pig's eye button hole", well it's just the term that a dear friend used that she inherited from her aunt. Just a simple K2Tog, YO, button hole. The usual instructions say on Row 1: K2Tog, YO and then on Row 2: knit. And viola you are done...BUT WAIT I say. If you have ever looked at one of these button holes you will notice that there are 2 little 1/4 circles at the top right and left edge of the hole and the buttons always want to get caught up in those little loops. To fix this making the button hole neater and larger, on ROW 3: knit INTO the button hole, dropping the st from row 2. This will make the button hole slightly larger so you can how get a bigger button through and you have tightened up those little yarn loops at the corners. Give it a try sometime, I think you'll like it. I've had the pleasure of sitting in a class where Lily Chin was teaching this technique...she was talking soooooo fast (so unlike Lily!) that she said, "and now you have a butt hole..." We all just about passed out laughing.