I am positively minty-blue with envy of your 1967 Singer Style-Mate 348. Please please please keep an eye out for another one. As the owner of not one, but two Perfectly Good plastic Janome machines (the Hello Kitty and the Jem Gold 660), I feel it might be time to step up to something a little more legendary. For one thing, neither of my machines smells of oil. They both sew a straight stitch, but they do not exactly inspire anyone to burst into song.
As I inch toward the finish line on Ranger, I think about how many complex little tasks are involved in completing a sweater. Yesterday I arrived at the penultimate complex task of Ranger: the buttonhole band.
I’ve written about how to evenly space buttons before. That instruction–“work 7 one-row buttonholes, evenly spaced”–is way up there on my list of passive-aggressive knitting instructions. What it really means: I’m tired of writing this pattern; you’re on your own, knitter. The Ranger instructions go a step further, but not the whole way: “To help you place them evenly, place markers or pins on the button band where you wish to place the buttons, and work the buttonholes to correspond to the markers.” Really–place markers where I *wish* to place them?
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I am too fixated on precision. But as linear as knitting is–it’s not like we can’t know how many stitches and rows we are dealing with–it seems to me that there should be precise placement of buttons and buttonholes. It’s within our power to do more than eyeball it. I would really appreciate a precise number of stitches and a line of instructions telling me where to put the buttons. But that is not the standard practice.
For the record, in case it helps somebody, here’s how I did it.
- Peer at the pattern’s photographs of the button band and determine where the top and bottom buttons should be placed, and put markers in those spots. (In the case of Ranger, whose bands are worked in 2 x 2 rib, I placed each marker in a “trough” formed by purl stitches on the right side, near the top or bottom (but not too near). This leaves 5 more buttons to place.
- Put a marker at the halfway point between the top and bottom markers. This was made easier by Ranger’s 2 x 2 rib; I was able to center the third marker precisely between the first two.
- Place 2 markers on either side of the center marker, evenly spaced. Again, Ranger’s 2 x 2 ribbing was a help.
After placing the markers on the button band, I picked up and knit the exact same number of stitches for the buttonhole band. (This was not as easy as you would think. I thought I was doing it exactly the same way, but ended up 6 stitches over on the first try. Sigh. Knitting is hard.) Then I worked in 2 x 2 rib until I got to the buttonhole row. Before working the buttonholes, I placed markers on the band in the same spots as I had place them on the button band (using the 2 x 2 rib as a guide). Then it was a simple matter of working to each marker, making a buttonhole, and working to the next marker, and so forth.
Now. All that remains is to Kitchener 18 stitches under each arm. I nominate this practitioner and preacher of Kitchener stitch, who came to visit me yesterday:
But: look at that unwoven-in end dangling off the edge of her new scarf, bless her. I think I’ll Kitchener those stitches myself.