This week in our Stitch Lab, we’ll be focusing on holes — intentional ones, that is. Holes are used for many different things in knitting. They can show up as design details (like eyelets), or serve a function (like a buttonhole.) There are various ways to make them — we’ll be covering some of the most commonly seen and needed.
When you’re knitting a garment that calls for buttonholes, you always want to pick a hole that will match the size of your button. Generally, it’s easiest if you bind off a few stitches into the button band, then cast on the same number of stitches mid-knit on the next row. Depending on how many you bind off (you’ll cast the same amount back on) you change the size of the buttonhole. With all of the button holes in this tutorial, we bound off four stitches and cast back on the same amount. Then, you’ll finish that row and knit all the stitches leading up to the gap.
For the Cable Cast On, you’ll insert your needle in between the last two stitches on your needle, and wrap the yarn the same way around it as if you were making a standard knit stitch.
Pull this loop through, in between the two stitches.
Bring this loop up and over the left-hand needle — you have added one stitch.
You’ll add back the four stitches you bound off. The working tail is now on the right side of the cable-cast on — so you’ll need to turn your work to finish the row on the WS of the fabric (as if you had been knitting across the WS row the whole time.)
Treat the next row as completely normal, and work across the whole row to finish off and give a clean edge to your buttonhole. The Cable Cast On is also a popular method to cast on stitches for necklines or, as indicated by the name, in the middle of the row for a cable.
The next mid-row cast on we’ll explore is fairly new. Originally taught to Cap Sease, the author of Cast On, Bind Off, this cast on goes by a few different names. Our favorite — and probably the most descriptive, is the Stretchy Short Tail Cast On. To start, you’ll bind off four stitches in the middle of the ‘button band’, then prep by working across the WS row to the gap. At this point, turn your work and line up the right-hand needle (your working needle) in an X formation against the left-hand needle, with your working yarn in front.
Then, you’ll wrap the yarn over the front needle and around the back needle:
And around the back needle counter-clockwise and towards the right, in a sort of figure-8 formation.
Then, you’ll bring the yarn in between your stitches, kind of like you did in the Cable Cast On, by slanting to the left and then pulling through the loop you have created:
As you can see, it makes two stitches out of one, so it’s a bit faster. Double the stitches for half the work! It’s great to use as a neckline cast on too.
If you have trouble catching this one, we really recommend this video from Youtuber Mimi Kezer. This cast on is pretty stretchy and is a great choice for a lot of projects.
The final cast on in our trio of mid-row cast ons is the Backwards Loop Cast On. This one creates a tight, inflexible edge that is clean and perhaps the best-suited to buttonholes that are larger and more likely to stretch out of shape. It also provides a matching edge to your bind off. Begin the same way as for the other two methods, knitting back to your gap. Then, wrap the yarn around your fingers:
Insert the needle up and through the loop from the back of your hand towards your fingertips. Pull your fingers out and you’ll have a loop like this:
Pull it tight and make a three more to complete your button hole.
As you can see, all three methods produced very similar buttonholes.