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When placing buttons and buttonholes, some knitters make the mistake of measuring each placement. The tape measure is of little help in getting accurate placement because knitted fabric stretches and what is 2″ (5) cm one time may not be the same measurement the second time. The trick to placing buttons and buttonholes precisely is counting rows.

Know how many rows you get per inch and you can place buttons and their corresponding buttonholes right where you want them. According to pattern standards the first and last button is usually place 1/2 inch (about 1.25) cm from the top and bottom of the garment. The rest of the buttons are spaced evenly between these two.

I do a dry run, laying out the buttons on the back of the garment because the front area where they will go has not yet been constructed. When placing the top and bottom button I figure out how many rows I am working per inch. For the latest baby sweater I am knitting 9 rows per inch. To find how many rows per 1/2 inch I divide 9 by 2 which equals 4.5 rows. I have a choice of rounding that number up or down. I decided to round it down to 4. Thus, I know 4 rows from the top of the garment and 4 rows up from the bottom of the garment will have buttons.

Next, I lay out the remainder of the buttons between the top and bottom. For this particular baby sweater I only had one more to place. I found the middle distance between the top and bottom by measuring between the two buttons. The total distance was 2.5 inches. To find the half way point, I divided the total by 2 and got 1.25 inches. I multiply the 1.25 inches by my row gauge of 9 and I get 11.25 rows as the middle distance between the top and bottom button. Again, I round down to 11 rows.

Now I know that at four rows I need a buttonhole and button. I knit another 10 rows and on the 11th I make another buttonhole. When I am four rows shy of the top of the garment in goes another buttonhole.

Since buttonhole bands and button bands are usually worked separately the row counting works great. On the buttonband when I come to a row where a button will go I mark that row with either a piece of yarn or a removable stitch marker. When it comes to sewing on the buttons opposite the buttonholes I don’t need to fuss or fiddle around because their placement is already marked.

I hope this information helps make placing buttons and buttonholes a little easier.

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Progress is continuing on the Feelin’ Groovy baby sweater. For a bit, I dipped into the realm of Masochistic Designing regarding how to attach the faux pocket tops to the front of the sweater. It had almost become existential angst until I decided to try a three-needle join. A three-needle join is exactly like a three-needle bind off except the bind off move isn’t performed. The three-needle join worked like a charm. I nearly spent a full 15 minutes in a blissful state of accomplishment until I started worrying about whether the faux pocket tops were the right distance apart. That led to worrying about whether they were positioned in the right places vertically. The gnawing question: Were they where pockets should be? Or once the remaining top of the sweater was completed would they look misplaced? Would the entire thing need ripping back to reposition them? And then the ultimate existential question: Why did I design this with pockets anyway? Hence the rest of the night was spent in masochistic design mode. After every row I’d lay out the front to see if the faux pockets looked funny.

With the decreases for the armholes complete it was time to add to my anxiety turn to inserting the button placket. The placket is normally in the middle of the garment. Though I had found and marked the middle stitches in order to place the faux pockets at the appropriate distance apart, I now worried that once the placket was created it would make the pocket placements look off. Thankfully, I realized that I was getting ahead of myself. My most immediate worry need was to remember which side the buttons go on for a girl’s sweater. The placket couldn’t be started without knowing this first.

Looking back, perhaps the easiest way of solving that little dilemma was to just ask Google. Instead, I turned to my ever expanding library of knitting books trying to remember which one contained the information I needed. I knew I read it in one of them. I remembered I even thought of marking the page with a sticky note that protruded from the book and said “button placement info” on it. For some reason, however, I never did that.

Let’s just say the search was lengthy. I scanned through my pattern collection instead looking for a cardigan that would show the side the buttons go on. Armed with that information it was back to knitting…more or less.

Before I could pick up the needles again, I needed to know the distance between each buttonhole. I remembered the book that should have had the “button placement info” tab sticking out of it gave the distances, but I wasn’t going back upstairs to look through everything again when I couldn’t find it the first time. I put the knitting down and called it a night.

Next time I will write about button placement and how to figure it all out.

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