Knitting Challenges: Sweaters With Buttons

If you knit sweaters, you’ve likely needed a button or two. Or fourteen. After the time and investment of knitting a sweater by hand, you don’t want to throw on any old buttons. (Actually, sometimes you DO want old buttons, but the point is having the options you want when you want them.) Is it just me, or aren’t buttons a bit of a challenge to find?

Maybe I’m picky.

You’ve heard me say this before, but I prefer buttons without shanks for sweaters. Shanks tend to pull at the stitches, create unnecessary strain on the garment and dangle their way right off the sweater. I have a cardigan with a missing shank button to prove my theory. (The button, once it wriggled free, was never seen again. How’s THAT for inconvenient?) Shank buttons are floppy – which can be somewhat remedied with the right tricks (we’ll talk about those tricks another time), but still. And of course there are exceptions to every rule; case-in-point: my First Watch pea coat – but only because I couldn’t find a shank-free button that fit the style and size I wanted.

Like I said, I’m picky.

I’ve ordered buttons from Etsy shops with reasonable success, but the process isn’t repeatable because quantities are often limited (not that I want all of my buttons to be the same anyway, but you know how you find one you really like and want to have extras on standby, just in case?). I’ve ordered from a few online shops, a few yarn stores, a few big box retailers – just trying to get my hands on some good basics to fortify my stash, but not always with the success you’d expect for the number of hours I spend making the attempt. If I had a dollar for every hour I’ve spent searching for buttons, I’d have at least ten dollars (which, incidentally, isn’t enough to buy a set of buttons for a sweater, so… never mind). It’s madness, I tell you. 

Sometimes I find the perfect button, but there are only 8 and I need 12. Or the button is the perfect style but not the right size. Or the right size, right quantity, wrong style. Right size, right quantity, right shape, right style, but too heavy. Ahhhh!!!!! Perfect, shank-less buttons are like unicorns: I’ve heard about them. People swear they exist. But I remain unconvinced.

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