Inching toward the finish line on my Ranger cardigan, I thought about how many complex tasks are involved in completing a sweater. Eventually, I arrived at the penultimate complex task of Ranger: the buttonhole band.
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, 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
- Place 2 markers on each side of the center marker, evenly spaced. Again, Ranger’s 2 x 2 ribbing was a help.
- Once the markers were on the button band, I picked up and knit the exact same number of stitches for the buttonhole band. 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 placed 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, working to the next marker, and so forth.
There may be other ways to do it, but this way worked for me.