I am not a fan of buttons on cardigans.

There, I have said it.

Which leads me to the question: What is the true purpose of buttons? Is it their decorative or practical quality?

The answer lies somewhere between. Yes, buttons are decorative, and I do agree that they do have a small practical value – the top button being buttoned when outside on a blustery winter’s day for example.

To be clear, I do not dislike buttons. I can drool over a selection of buttons in all their glory of colours, shapes and sizes like anyone else.  There really are some outstanding buttons on the market from real cheapie ones to expensive handmade ones.

It is, however, not mandatory for a cardigan to have buttons and in some ways, the use of buttons is more historical as in a ‘it has always been done like that’ kind of way.

More to the point, I have often thought that buttons detract from the texture, the cable, the intricate lace work and beautiful Faire Isle patterns of our knitting.

In my designs, I have knitted cardigans with buttons

Skyline Rose
Skyline Rose

and cardigans without them.

Redland Rose - Front
Redland Rose – Front

To be honest, I much prefer the look of a brooch or a shawl pin as a button replacement.

Oatmeal Cardigan - CloseUp
Oatmeal Cardigan – CloseUp

If, however you cannot live without buttons here is my buttonhole stitch pattern.


Vertical three-row buttonhole

Row 1: With right side facing, work in k1, p1 ribbing to 1 st before desired buttonhole position, ending with knit stitch, [yarnover] 2x, k2tog, work in rib to end of row

Row 2: Work to double yarnover of previous row, knit first loop of double yarnover and drop second loop off needle

Row 3: Work in rib as established to hole formed by double yarnover, purl into centre of hole, then drop stitch on needle above the hole, off needle

One buttonhole completed.


If you have strong opinions on the button question, I would love to hear them.