On Button Band Isthmus …

I recently finished a few big projects and found myself weighing up casting on a new project versus finishing up a few longer standing WIPs.  In a virtuous fit, I decided WIP finishing was the way to go, especially as I’ve got three cardigans on the needles, all of which I love the look of — and I’ve been feeling a lack of cardis in my wardrobe of late.  I was excited about my plan until I realized, with horror, that all three cardi WIPs were at or near a certain point.  You know knitters talk about getting stuck on sleeve island?  Well, I’ve spent some time there for sure, but recently, I realized there’s another bit of sweater–well, cardigan knitting–that I get bogged down at every time … button bands.  And thus, I’m adding a new location to sweater geography … button band isthmus.

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Button Bands.  Those little strips (see, like an isthmus!) … trying to pick up the right number of stitches, inevitably having to redo it multiple times, all just to knit a few tedious rows to make a band that’ll join (also like an isthmus!) your two cardi halves.

I really don’t like them.  Sleeves might take awhile, but at least they can often be done as a bit of mindless knitting.  Button bands though, require focus and concentration, without being interesting.  And the fact that the knitting itself can be quick just makes them worse, in my book … as soon as you get into the swing of one side, it’s already over, you have to cast off a ton of stitches, and do it all over again on the other side, blergh!

I inevitably find myself slowing up when I know a button band is around the corner.  I finished the yoke decreases on my Carbeth cardigan, for instance, on Sunday, then abandoned work on it til this evening, when I worked up to making myself pick up those stitches.

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Knowing that button bands often catch me out, I resolved some time ago to always do them before the sleeves on a top down cardi, so I wouldn’t be faced with them at the tail end of the project.  That was my plan when I set down my Southwell cardigan when we moved last summer … that I would next attack the button bands.  That poor cardi is still waiting:


And I’ve already resolved to do button bands before sleeves on my gorgeous Incunabula. With the back nearly done and just two small fronts to knit, I can already feel the button band bogey man looming large:

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So, this weekend’s plans include spending some time trying to cross button band isthmus.  Wish me luck.  It will be tedious, but at least, in the scheme of things, it will be brief … I’ve already got stuck in this evening on Carbeth (the low hanging fruit), so I’m going to try to keep the momentum.  And then, with two of these WIPs, it’ll be time to set sail for sleeve island. Do you have any big knitting plans this weekend?  And ss there a particular point in projects that always stalls you out …. I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

xo K

20 thoughts on “On Button Band Isthmus …”

  1. Hmm, I ramp up as I get towards the end, usually. I think I’m just so eager to wear whatever it is after having worked on it for so long. Maybe also because I always pickup one stitch per row, then decrease down to whatever is needed count-wise on the first row. So it’s less work when I’m picking up, and the math doesn’t seem as painful once I’ve made it past the picking up? Who knows what mysterious ways the brain works?

    When I will delay is when I have spotted a mistake that means ripping back. Sometimes I will even keep knitting while I contemplate whether I want to rip back or not, which seems counter productive, but at least keeps something from going to the UFO pile.

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  2. I avoid knitting cardigans usually (I am making Coinneach as a jumper) not so much for the button bands but because I hate choosing buttons and trying to make button holes the right size!

    The only cardigan I have made recently is Wardie- the button band was knitted in one loooooong strip and then mattress stitched on- which was fine. Even though I usually avoid sewing!

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    1. I really want to cast on for a Coinneach. I agree that choosing buttons is also stressful — hard to find good ones and they can really make or ruin a project. I avoid seaming like the plague so can’t imagine sewing on a button band!!


  3. May I add the knitted-on cliff edge? I love how they look, but somehow the back and forth on all those little rows for umpteen repeats gets me screaming. I have two shawls that need finishing in this way – am trying to make myself do one repeat of an edge, then allow some knitting on another project – but the flesh is weak and the other project is always so much more attractive …..

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  4. Button bands are indeed The Worst. I often find the finishing parts the hardest in general – my Keith Moon just needs applied icord and the underarms grafted (but in fairness, it has been too hot to sit under a Shetland aran jumper recently.) and I try to do no more than ten colours on a crochet blanket without weaving in the ends, although the current WiP is at 17 so I really must weave those in before doing more.

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  5. I know they are stalled at different places, but they are all so beautiful! I am endlessly impressed with the number of gorgeous cardis/jumpers that you get through – I only seem to be able to do small items in volume, and manage about one jumper every four years 🙂

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  6. I would’ve never thought of button bands being a thing to stall a project but then I love picking up stitches (I hate weaving in ends). A lot of times when I’m knitting a project I slip the first stitch on every row (whether the pattern tells me to or not) and that makes it way easier and cleaner to pick up stitches for the button band later.

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  7. I plan to do some knitting once I get through the baby’s birthday party. When I was knitting the sleeves of my Flax, man it seemed it took forever w/that drag on the bamboo needles! Next time I knit a garment, I’m going to order short, Addi or Chiaogoo circulars so it’ll go faster. I was missing metal needles.

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  8. Yep the button band is my problem area as well. The picking up the right amount of stitches to prevent puckering but not too many so that it doesn’t ruffle. Ugh! My least favorite thing to do.
    Sleeves are okay.

    Good luck on finishing up those beautiful sweaters!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow! Those cardigans are gorgeous and I can’t wait to see them finished. I find binding off kind of tedious for very long shawls. Otherwise, I haven’t made an adult sweater (I’m in the process of a cardigan; however no button bands!) and can’t wait to add this to my repertoire. I was on vacation last week and took a break from emails and blogs…so I hope you were able to make a lot of progress this weekend! I worked on my socks so I could show some progress in our OUAS post this coming Thursday.

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