Buttons, buttons, so many choices July 2, 2012 – Posted in: How to, Mondays with Mona

If you have ever knit a cardigan, be it for yourself or someone else, you know you had to buy buttons to go with it. That is, the traditional cardi asks for buttons, and that is what I am talking about.

I love picking buttons for my knitted things. Sometimes I even pick the buttons first and then decide what to knit to go with them. The choice of buttons can be overwhelming, but I am of the opinion that a ‘good’ button makes the finished object twice as nice.

I have lots of buttons at home, some are old, some new and there is my Grandmother’s button box I inherited when she passed away. Sometimes I find what I need in my stash, other times I have to go out and buy since what I have just won’t do it. Whatever I have to do to get the look I want, there are several aspects to be considered when choosing a button.

1. The style of the buttons need to match the project. A mother-of-pearl button usually just does not look right on rugged wool, a rustic wood button might not be the best choice for a lacy cardigan knit in silky yarn.

2. I try to match the size to the project. Usually 1″ buttons are too big for a child’s sweater, sometimes you can get away with it. Other times the size of the button is what makes the project special.

3. Have fun choosing your buttons – it is not a chore. Thinking outside the box at times as well as leaving our comfort zone might make the perfect project in the end.

4. What I think is the best button is not always what other people prefer. Do not try to be someone you are not, be comfortable with your choice.

5. If you cannot find what you have in mind, revisit No. 3. You might be surprised where it gets you to.

6. Make sure the button goes with the care instructions of the wool, not all buttons are machine washable.

I have been asked a few times what to use when sewing on buttons on a finished project. I always answer ‘if possible, use the yarn you knit with’. Here are some projects where I did just that.

Then again, sometimes it is not possible to use the yarn, be that the holes in the buttons are to small to accommodate a needle big enough for the yarn, be it that the yarn itself is really too thick to look nice. In these cases I like to use cotton embroidery thread, usually even in a contrast colour, meaning NOT the same as the project, just to switch it up. If it is a button with four holes, I sew crosswise. More fun this way!

When using vintage buttons, meaning raiding your own stash or finding them in old button collections like that from my Grandma, it is sometimes not possible to find enough of the same for the whole project. Here are some examples what to do when that happens: use buttons of the same size and same colour family as I did on the little turquoise cardi. All three of them are different, but they work together. Or use different colours, as used on the green cotton cardi. My daughter was very excited about that.

Another style of buttons are shank buttons – they do not have holes like the ones shown before, they have a loop attached to the back and the sewing is not visible.

Sometimes you don’t even have to sew the buttons on, but a quick knot will do the trick, like here on this big flower button, secured on the project with a waxed cotton thread in a contrast colour, available at the store in several shades.

Are you ready to select some buttons for your project? We have a large variety of styles and sizes available at the store, why don’t you have a look next time you step by.

– Mona