What do these have in common? Both are useful, both are usually ugly.
Given this, these past few days I have been on the quest for a good buttonhole. I’ve found that the classic eyelet buttonhole is by far the easiest, and attractive. Unfortunately it is not going to gracefully accommodate a large button if you are using fine yarn.
I have tried a number of them, and none have pleased me, though some have intrigued me. The best one, beyond the eyelet, is the “Two Lip” or “Tulip” buttonhole by TechKnitter, a genius in the ranks of the knitting world. It is a bit of work, but I think I can get it. It was featured in the Summer 2010 issue of Interweave Knits, and it is presented here by Eunny Jang.
In trying out a number of buttonholes, it becomes pretty obvious what their major failing is: to complete the buttonhole, you turn your work, creating one extra row of new stitches, over which you then work another row. The result is lumps and holes, and uneven stitches. Very, very ugly.
This does not occur with the eyelet, nor the Tulips buttonhole. The eyelet is straightforward – k2tog, yo – and continue on your merry way. The Tulips buttonhole requires some wraps, unwraps, fiddling with a crochet hook and a double-pointed needle, but it works. The upper part of the buttonhole is continued in the same direction as you are originally knitting, adding the stitches by doing a yarn over and making a loop with the crochet hook. Kind of messy to do initially, but it will get graceful later on.
In sewing, I hated buttonholes so much I would make loops for everything. I have only made eyelets for sweaters because everything else was so dreadful. As I am designing a sweater for Josh, an eyelet buttonhole will not accommodate a button an inch in diameter. Necessity forced me into the search – I’ve ripped the sweater out twice now! – and I hope that I will get it down. Meanwhile, I plan to practice, practice, practice!