Sunday, May 6, 2012

Miette 14: Button Bands

OK - I know I said this was going to be the last Miette post, but I think I'll have to do one more to keep it from being too long.  I'm also going to format this a little differently, because there's so much information. I did make a few more videos the other day, and rather than post them here, I'm just going to give the links and send you on your way to YouTube if you care to watch them.  I've also got lots of photos I want to share here, and I'll be giving you the most important steps for the button bands, so that the videos are really just supplemental.

The videos are:
Miette Button Bands, part 1
Miette Buttonbands, part 2 - inconsistent, I know!  I really ought to fix that . . .
Miette Button Bands, part 3

Before I move on to the photos, I want to confess that I made a mistake both on my sweater and on the video.  When I got to the point of picking up the stitches for the button bands, I didn't even look at the pattern, I just picked up my sweater and did the first one with no buttonholes.  Then when I got to the second band (the left one), I did look at the pattern, and I got confused because there were no instructions in the pattern for making the buttonholes!  And I said so in the second video!

Well, I was wrong of course!  There are instructions for making the buttonholes, and they are on the RIGHT button band, as they should be for a woman.  I was confused by that too, because I know that buttonholes go on the right side for women.  How do I remember that?  With this little mnemonic:

                     WOMEN are always RIGHT!

So don't be like me.  Read the pattern, even if you don't intend to follow it!

Now, some of you may not be following the pattern for the button bands either, because a lot of us have made adjustments to the length of the fronts, so the number of stitches stated in the pattern won't work for us.  And to be honest, even if I haven't made any changes, I only use the number stated in a pattern as a guide - I want to be somewhere near that number, but many times it doesn't matter if I hit it exactly.

So the rule of thumb when picking up stitches along the vertical edges of a piece of knitting (as for button bands) is this:

                Pick up 2 stitches for every 3 rows.

What this means is that you pick up a stitch in each of the first and second rows, and then skip the third row, and repeat across the work.    This works because knit stitches are wider than they are tall.  It gives the picked-up stitches a spacing that is almost always just right, and it's the easiest method I know of.  If you're not sure how to pick up stitches, I show it in the 2nd button band video.

The first group of photos shows the stitches all picked up, and the work has been turned to work the first row of ribbing.  Note that you will need to figure out how to evenly distribute the K2, P2 rib along the number of stitches you picked up for your button band.

The picked up stitches sit backwards on the needle.*  What this means is that the left side of the stitch is in front and the right side is in back, opposite to how they usually are when knitting.  I like to knit (or purl) into the left side of the stitch in this first row to twist the stitches - I feel this makes the first row much neater.

Another trick I wanted to tell you about is this:  when you bind off the right button band, keep the last stitch live on the needle, and let it become the first stitch of your neck band.  This will make the edge very neat, and eliminate two ends to be woven in.

After you pick up stitches across the button band, you'll come to a straight section on the front neck (remember those ten stitches we cast on in row 25?) followed by an angled section at the side neck and then straight sections across the sleeve top, back, and the other sleeve top, finally angling again down the left side neck and straight across the front neck again.  

On the straight sections, pick up one stitch in every stitch from the body - these will look like vertical "rows".  On the angled sections go back to the 2 stitches for every 3 rows rule, knowing that you may need to add in an extra stitch here and there if the spacing looks too far apart as compared to the stitches you've picked up on the straight sections.

The last thing I want to mention in this post is that you may notice that my button bands are wider than the pattern calls for.  I made my button bands 9 rows deep rather than 5, because I knew that I wanted to use slightly larger buttons.  To accommodate those buttons, I changed my buttonholes as well.  Instead of working them k2tog, yo  I did  k2tog and then a double yarn over, simply passing the yarn around the needle twice rather than once.  This makes the hole a little bigger.

I also had to change the spacing of my buttonholes.  I talk about how I figured it out for my sweater in the videos, but each sweater will be different because of differences in gauge and number of stitches - you may even want to change the number of buttons on your sweater.  To help figure it out, here's a great online buttonhole calculator.  Just plug in your information, hit enter, and all the math is done for you!

*  Jo brought it to my attention that this is only true if you pick up the stitches with the yarn in your left hand like I do, or with a crochet hook.  If you pick up the stitches with the yarn in your right hand, they will be oriented correctly on the needle.  In that case, I would twist the first row of stitches by knitting or purling into the back loop of each stitch.


  1. Thanks, that's really helpful - and thanks so much for the link to the buttonhole calculator!

  2. Wow, so much information to take in, and all these little tips will really help I'm sure!

    1. I think it probably seems a little overwhelming, because I'm on a schedule so I had to do it all one after the other. But it will all be here when you need to come back to it. And all this stuff becomes second nature with experience!

  3. I'm FINALLY getting to my button bands. Should I block the sweater before I try to pick up stitches for the bands?

    1. It doesn't really matter - sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. Blocking it first will help you have a better idea if your button bands are bunching up or not though.

  4. I bought buttons for my cardigan today and your videos were SO useful. I was actually knitting along with you in front of my computer, pausing as I knitted along! I hope the neckband is as easy tomorrow...