Trimming a knit buttonhole with crochet

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Following on from my posting about reinforcing button bands on my recent cardigan project, here’s how I neatened and strengthened the buttonholes too. These were two stage buttonholes, with stitches bound off on one row and then new stitches cast on over the top on the next row. It makes a good space for the button but I find they look messy after. Which may be a reflection on my skill with buttonholes, perhaps I should work on that! In fact probably I should…

Anyway, I don’t have time to become an expert buttonholer overnight, and wanted to neaten them up at the end. So I used crochet for this. I’m not sure if this is a method anyone else uses, I just figured it out myself, and this is what I did! I’ve made up a little swatch so I could take better photos of what is going on, and I’ve done this for left and right handed crochet, so look at the photos that are relevant to how you work.

Warning! It is really a little hard for me to explain but I’ve done my best, and hopefully you will get the idea of what I’m doing and can experiment too. I think it is one of those things that is much easier just to try and do than it is to show.

Firstly, I used a hook smaller than the needle size I knit the buttonholes with. The swatch was made using 4 mm (US 6) needles so I used a 3.5 mm (US E) hook for this.

It’s a little tricky as you’re working looking at the right side of the fabric, crocheting over and through the buttonhole, with the working yarn all kept behind the buttonhole on the wrong side of the fabric. So you have to feel and fish for the yarn a bit. I’ve made left and right handed photos for the crochet. I’ve used the orange contrasting yarn so it is more visible.


row 1 RH

First, we have the naked buttonhole (pic 1)! Place your trim yarn behind the work (pic 2).

Next, insert the crochet hook into the knitting, right at the edge of the buttonhole. We’ll be working along the bottom of this buttonhole in the picture. Yarn round the hook and pull through (pic 3).

*Insert the hook again, a stitch further away, yarn round the hook and pull through again. Two loops are on the hook. Then insert the hook not through the fabric, but into the buttonhole itself, yarn round the hook. Now you have three loops on the hook (pic 4). Pull the first loop through the other two (pic 5).

Continue to work from * until you have made 4 stitches in this way.


row 1 LH

Next, we need to fasten off this line of stitches and get the yarn tail back to the wrong side of the work.


row 2 RH

You can see the line of stitches there, and I’ve pulled the last loop out ready to fasten off (pic 1).

Cut the yarn, leaving a tail and thread onto a tapestry needle. Draw the tail through that last loop (pic 2). Pull up to fasten off the stitch (pic 3).

Next, thread the yarn back to the wrong side of the work using the tapestry needle. Insert the needle where the trim finishes (pic 4) and bring the yarn tail through so that it exits on the wrong side of the work.


row 2 LH

Turn the fabric around and do the same for the other edge of the buttonhole.


row 3 LH

Now you have two rows of stitches, one at each edge of the buttonhole (pic 2 above).

All the ends of the yarn are threaded through at the wrong side of the work. On the wrong side of the work you have 4 loose ends, one at the start and one at the end of each row of trim stitches (pic 3).

Knot the upper and lower edge ends together, at each side of the buttonhole (pic 4). Now you can weave in the tails.

And there we have a crochet trim around the buttonhole (pic 5).

Sewing the tails through to the back like this I found stops the buttonhole trim being bulky at the “corners” of the buttonhole. I used knots as I don’t mind them where appropriate and I think they work well here, but if you don’t like knots you can just weave all the ends without knotting.