Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sometimes you just want closure, and buttons can give you that.

First things first, the winner of the November 1 giveaway is (randomly) ilina! Please let me know where to send your bling!

Now, on to buttons.  My workroom is the coldest room in the  house. Two walls are mostly windows and the glass in those windows is single paned. We shrink wrap the windows for the winter, but the temperature of the space is still very much in synch with the great outdoors.  Because of that I've been cold, and when I'm cold I want to knit everything lightening fast and then climb under a huge pile of the stuff.

Needless to say, a big pile of woollies is warm but not very practical for getting work done.  For that, they need to be more garment-like and stay on when one moves around (and I don't mean like those backward bathrobe Snuggies).   Enter the humble button.  Only, in this case, they're not so humble. They're moderately huge buttons almost 2in in diameter. They're focal points, attractive in their own right, and just one will visually stand up to just about anything.  There's just one problem. I didn't add a giant buttonhole when I was knitting. But wait! There is a solution!  (I'm starting to sound like an 'as seen on TV' advert.)

The easiest, of course, is if the stitches are so gigantic that the button fits in between the stitches even without a buttonhole. To whit:

This scarf is too short to wear without something holding it closed. But at 1st per inch it really doesn't need to be any longer to be incredibly warm. (Buttons are vintage celluloid purchased at the Garden State Sheep Breeders festival this year.)

In this case, I sewed two lovely vintage buttons together like a cufflink, making sure that the shank separating the buttons is long enough for the thickness of the fabric.  It's easily repositioned and I can take it off completely when I want to wash the scarf.  This also means I can switch out which button is facing out.

But what if 2 buttons that go with the piece aren't available?  Or if the piece fits in such a way that a button on the inside would be uncomfortable?  Or even more insurmountable, what if the fabric is too closely knit to admit a giant button?  There is yet another solution! (and it's after the jump.)

Meet the button.  It's about 1.75in in diameter, black walnut, and made by The Hickory Tree.

Meet the garment.  My weirdly misshapen ruana of doom that I've decided is nearly perfect in its strange lack of symmetry.  One leg is short and wide because I forgot a line of decreases, and there's a bend in it from some short rows.  One leg is long and narrow, and the cast-on doesn't match the bind-off.  And one of the cables did not respond well to the mitered corner so it's odd looking.  This is what happens when I put something away for so long that I don't remember how I started or intended to finish it.

I like to wear it this way, with the short, wide leg tucked up over my left shoulder and the long skinny leg wrapped all the way around my right shoulder and then back over the left.  It's not so funny looking once it's on, and I like how the narrow leg forms a scarf-like detail.  The only problem is it doesn't stay put.

I was looking at shawl pins, but I didn't want something that could tug out, and I really didn't want to buy anything.  I already have a pile of giant buttons I'd recently purchased and I've been wanting to use some of them.  And a giant wooden button is a perfect focal for something in my favorite heathered green.  But clearly I can't just shove a 1.75in diameter button through stitches that small. It's worsted weight yarn worked up on 5mm needles. It takes effort to get my fingertip between the stitches, let alone a huge button with rough edges.

So, instead I made a button loop.  I think it looks pretty nifty.  The button is big enough to stand up to the bulk of the garment and it was really easy to do. 

See, the knit fabric is too dense to admit the button, but it's plenty loose enough to allow something skinnier through.  So I made a crochet chain with some cotton, and I anchored the chain in the button and then made a loop long enough to go around the button.  It needs a bit of slack because the knit fabric will hold the base of the loop together and the thickness of the fabric will also get in the way. It can take a little trial and error to find a good length. Luckily it won't be seen so splicing in extra thread like I did isn't a problem.

And because this needs to go through several layers of relatively closely knit fabric, I anchored a small bead at the midpoint of the loop.  This way when I press it through the cloth, I can feel the bead and have something to grab and pull through.  The size of the bead isn't too critical as long as it fits through the stitches but is big enough to feel. 

Then it's just a matter of going through as many layers as one wants, pulling the loop through far enough away so the stress is distributed well, and pull the loop over the button to secure.

I like going through all the layers in this case.

I could use this method with the neckwarmer, too, to secure a single button to one end of the scarf.  It would still be buttoned closed through the stitches of the other end, which is faster to remove than passing the loop through both layers, and the button is less likely to be lost when the scarf is off.  The benefit of this as opposed to sewing button in place on one end is that it would be removable and could be repositioned at will.

It's not at all difficult to do, but I'm rather chuffed at the results. And more importantly, I'm warm.

And of course both of these can be used with smaller buttons and smaller gauged knitting. I just like the giant buttons.

1 comment:

Kitten With a Whiplash said...

Really clever and really lovely! Those buttons are just perfect for their garments.