I know you’ve come to expect at least a bad pun in the title, but this is serious business. It can’t be all fun and games like yesterday. (But let me pause to thank everyone on their nice wishes!)
As you know, I’ve started my Forest Darkness cardigan, Deep into the Forest. Well, I got one cm into it and the instructions said “make buttonhole”. OK, I know how to make buttonholes of various sorts, but which buttonhole would suit a Bohus in which I was trying to be true to the spirit of the originals?
I posted to the Ravelry Bohus group. Despite 4oo members, many have not made a full sweater and of those, even fewer have done a cardigan. I didn’t get a confident answer. So I went to the source - I emailed Susanna Hansson.
What a gem! She replied almost immediately with a detailed answer. Here is what she said.
Susanna Hansson inspected her authentic cardigans and an ancient, original Bohus instruction sheet (one they gave the knitters). She discovered that the buttonholes were made over 3 stitches (i.e. 3 stitches were bound off), three stitches in from the outer edge. On the next row, 3 stitches were cast on, with no particular cast-on mentioned.
Susanna says, “I find it very challenging to make this type of buttonhole sufficiently small and tidy. Since the buttons are small, the buttonholes need to be small as well. One option is to make them over 2 stitches instead of 3, and this is what Solveig (Solveig Gustafson of SOLSilke) generally uses in her cardigans, though she thinks the YO buttonhole would be a good option, as well.”
Susanna supposes that the original buttonholes were chosen because they offer a defined edge (the tailoring/haute couture influence), though they were never meant to be reinforced, and possibly because the Bohuses were not familiar with the YO buttonhole.
Susanna confessed that she almost always use the YO buttonhole, even for Bohus garments, so perhaps is not a 100% purist. To her the YO buttonhole is much more unobtrusive, which is what buttonholes should be in knitwear, in her opinion. She said that many of the buttonholes in her vintage Bohus cardigans are quite stretched out and ugly. There is, of course, no way of knowing if they would have been had they been done differently.
One technique which Susanna shared with me to lengthen the buttonhole vertically if a simple YO is too small, is to make the YO button hole as usual for rows 1 and 2 of the buttonhole, then purl directly into it on row 3, thereby ‘hoisting’ it up one more row. Below are instructions of this method and even a slightly more elongated method, in which you do a double YO and knit or purl into the buttonhole according to your rib pattern for rows 3 & 4.
Here are my detailed directions for the YO buttonhole and a vertical YO buttonhole as Susanna describes, and even an elongated vertical buttonhole. I knit all three in a swatch of DK weight yarn and got lengths of 6 mm, 8 mm, and 10-12 mm respectively. I adapted these directions from the pithier directions that Susanna shared with me from a book by Carmen Michelson and Mary-Ann Davis, “The Knitter’s Guide to Sweater Design“. If it has one technique this useful in it, I think it must have more. I may need a copy.
Knit these buttonholes in 1×1 rib. The button band should be an odd number of stitches (which means for my Bohus cardigan which specifies a 10 row band, I may make the outer one a selvedge and slip it for a smooth edge. One more minor inconsistency, I suppose, with tradition. At this rate, I’ll be adding bust darts before you know it! (Just kidding.)) On the right side, the first stitch should be a knit stitch and the center stitch of the band should be a purl stitch.
YO or Eyelet Buttonhole
Row 1 of buttonhole (always start on right side): Knit to the center stitch. YO. K2 together and complete band in pattern. Turn.
Row 2, knit across in pattern for rib, knitting in YO and continue to end of row. Buttonhole finished.
Vertical YO or Vertical Eyelet Buttonhole.
Row 1 and 2, as for YO Buttonhole.
Row 3: Knit in pattern to center stitch. Purl into the buttonhole instead of the stitch on the left needle and continue in pattern, slipping stitch you would have purled off the needle without knitting or purling into it.
Here is a picture of the buttonhole right after I’ve purled into it as stated in row 3, and the next picture is right after I’ve dropped the stitch that would have been purled if I hadn’t already purled in the buttonhole. Sorry for the blur.
Elongated YO or Vertical Eyelet Buttonhole.
Row 1: Knit to center stitch. YO twice. K2 together and finish row in rib pattern.
Row 2 and 3: as for Vertical YO Buttonhole.
Row 4: Knit to center stitch. Knit into buttonhole, and as for prior role, slip center stitch from left needle off needle and continue row in pattern.
Here is a shot of all 3 buttonholes. Even if the difference in length isn’t obvious, the shape difference should be, with the eyelet version being pretty round and the elongate version really looking slitlike. The second picture is the wrong side. Unless you like the kind of twisted look and want to use it as a design element, make sure you work the buttonhole from the right side.
Well, that’s enough excitement for today.