Button Lane

I have heard about this store in Toronto that sells thousands of buttons really cheap. I’ve never been there myself, but always thought it was the perfect place to find buttons for a cardigan. Fabric Land is good for buttons, but they are quite expensive, local hand-made buttons are great for the occasional cardigan, but not all the time. This place, was perfect.

Buttons 2

I originally thought it was a store that only sold buttons, but it was actually a sewing store with fabric, thread, handles, buckles and all manner of embellishments. It was really disorganized and cluttered and I will admit to being slightly put off by the sight, simply because it wasn’t expected. I forged on in the pursuit of the perfect buttons for my Ombre Cardigan.

Buttons

I followed the narrow path to the back of the store and there was a corner of the store with nothing but buttons from floor the ceiling. I was a little overwhelmed so I let my eyes glaze over and just searched for blue. Since I am much fonder of blue than I am of orange, I decided that I should go… more blue. Of all the hundreds of buttons I wanted to keep with the theme I had going and not going with a third colour or texture. The toggles seemed much too heavy for this cardigan; it was knit with lace held double. The buttons need to be delicate to work with the garment.

Buttons 3

I wasn’t finding much in the blue, so I decided to look at orange and I found the perfect buttons. They are an opalescent orange and the perfect size. The main thing I was worried about was the buttons not fitting into the proper sized hole. I actually had my sweater there and tried to push buttons through the holes in order to gauge their worthiness.
Overall the trip was a success despite the lack of polish on the store. I would definitely go there again to get buttons because of the sheer variety. Trust me when I say, there is the prefect button there for everyone.

Functional Friday: Knitting Beyond the Edge

Compared to the last Nicky Epstein book this one covers, cuffs, collars, necklines, corners, edges and closures. I have loved each succession of these books and this one is no different.

Knitting Beyond the Edge UK

The very first picture in the section for Cuffs & Collars is a beautiful brown sweater with fall leaves detailing the hem, cuffs and inside of the collar. I managed to find this alternate picture of the cover depicting this sweater.

Most of the cuffs and collars in the first section are very unique. Techniques I would not have even thought about. A few peplum cuffs are very interesting, some with cables and colour work. There are a lot of interesting ideas in adding embellishments to the collars and around the cuffs. There are so many fascinating and elegant ideas I never really thought about. I like cuffs that aren’t tight, several times I’ve cast on more stitches than recommended and I increase, or decrease, fewer times. With the instructions for flared sleeves or pointed sleeves I will be able to refine the way I do cuffs a little bit.

Neckline is the next chapter I do not usually do too much with necklines, anything around my neck gives me a sense of claustrophobia. There are a lot of interesting turtlenecks and higher necklines. They are very cute, but I think I will try some of the wider necklines first. If I used a lighter weight yarn I would probably fare better than with a heavier yarn.

Knitting Beyond the Edge CAN

Corners & Edges are one of my favourite sections. I love clean corners and edgings that hide any uneven stitches or messiness. There are quite a few embellishments that are much more elaborate for my taste, but there are some very knitterly edges that would be the perfect touches to set off a shawl or sweater.

The very last section is Closures! This is quite interesting because of all the recent problems I’ve had with buttons and zippers. There are really creative buttonholes that would probably add more structure and cause less pulling at the button band.

Another awesome book by Nicky Epstein, I really enjoyed every one that I read. They will be extremely useful when modifying patterns to my own specific tastes!

Technical Tuesday: Buttons!

When I was re-doing the button band on my coolbreeze sweater, I came across a really interesting technique for sewing on buttons. Whenever I have sewn buttons on ANY knitting, the button pulls the knitted fabric where is it sewn on. It would stretch so in a couple months or years, that small square of knitted material is ready to leave the sweater itself! The problem here is the thread had much less give than the knitted button band.

 

PJ Coolbreeze ThreePiotr Jankowski | Team Ponam

The first time I sewed the buttons on the coolbreeze sweaters I was scared the buttons would rip right off the button band. They looked so strained that I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it buttoned up! As you know, I ended up having to re-do the finishing touches so it really wasn’t that big of a loss.

 

PJ Coolbreeze 5Piotr Jankowski | Team Ponam

I came across a video of someone sewing buttons on a knitted garment. At first I thought it didn’t really apply to what I was looking for because they were sewing on ribbon and very large decorative buttons. I didn’t want to use ribbon and my buttons were normal sized, but I kept watching anyway.

Instead of simply sewing these large heavy buttons onto their knitted sweater, they sewed the large button on the front (where you can see it) and a smaller button on the back (where it is hidden from sight). This is pure genius!

 

PJ Coolbreeze Five
Piotr Jankowski | Team Ponam

I think it might be a sewing technique because I was speaking to a friend about it and she said her mom used to do that when sewing buttons on delicate fabric. I had never seen this before at all and think it is the best thing since sliced bread!

I wasted no time in running around my house trying to find buttons that were relatively inconspicuous and the appropriate size. I don’t have a lot of buttons in general. I usually don’t put buttons on things and if I do, I run out and find the perfect button for the garment I am finishing. I ended up raiding the spare button stash in my sewing room.

 

PJ Coolbreeze FourPiotr Jankowski | Team Ponam

I have a container full of the extra buttons that come with clothes, coats, pants or any piece of clothing you buy that has the potential to lose a button. I am pretty sure I no longer own the pants that these buttons were taken from. Hopefully anyway.

After I sewed them on, I tried it out. It works like a charm. The button on the back spreads out the force of the pulling on the button band. I cannot believe no one told me about this! It is something I cannot live without. I will never sew on another button without the behind the scenes stabilization button.

A FO and Ribbing Re-do

Happy Wednesday!  It’s the half point of the week and I’ve got some finished objects for you; some you’ve even seen before. I’ve finished Patty’s daughters socks and started the socks for Jennie.

Patty Royal

I am really REALLY happy with the colours of Jennie’s socks so far. They are so vivid and wonderful. These socks are by far my favourite so far. I may have to make myself a pair after I am finished with these ones!

Jennie Socks

My next finished object is the coolbreeze sweater. I had to re-do the button band, it’s officially finished now. I decided to sew in a zipper because the buttons were not working out well.

Coolbreeze Zipper

Luckily I found a zipper that was very close to the colour of yarn I used. As you can see it is almost invisible. This way the zipper pulls the sweater shut evenly and everyone can still admire my beautiful buttons. Since everyone teased me mercilessly for buying such expensive buttons… even though they were perfect for this sweater and had to be bought! There was no other way except to make the zipper hidden. I’ve just got to iron out some of the ribbing around the collar so it will actually lay flat. Then it will truly be complete!

Coolbreeze Zipper Birdseye

Aside from these FO’s I am waiting on another shipment of yarn to dye. Hopefully it will be in soon and I can commence with my blue and purple socks!!

Monday Mishaps: All Buttoned Up

Another Monday and more mishaps to tell. This one happened a while ago as well, but it is keeping with the theme of Nordic sweater misfortunes. It was on Paul’s special request sweater, if you remember I blogged about it here.

Folded Button Mishap

He wanted a cardigan and I didn’t know how to do a zipper at the time. The obvious closure was buttons. There were no problems knitting the sweater itself, everything went as smoothly as could be expected. However, when it came time to do the seed stitch button band, I was not careful enough. When picking up stitches, I watched to make sure I wasn’t picking up too many. I started knitting and everything looked good. I think my tension must have loosened as I got closer and closer to binding off because when I finally finished, there was a very definite curve in the material.

Paul Button Mishap

It wasn’t extremely noticeable so I started on the other side in hope that I would do better, but I didn’t. At this point I took solace in the fact that they matched and it wasn’t a glaring mistake.

Apparently I don’t learn from my mistakes because when I was doing the button band for my coolbreeze cardigan, blogged here, I did the same thing! It really wasn’t quite as bad. I knew the type of yarn I used significantly relaxed after touching the water, so I knit the body a little on the small side. The button band, on the other hand, was a ribbed surface. It looked much smaller than it actually was. As soon as I blocked that bad boy, the button band sagged so badly that it was decorative.

Butten Mishap

I did rip this one out, and did it again. I still haven’t sewn on the buttons. I am thinking if it still looks bad this time I will attach a zipper on the inside so when the buttons are done up, they won’t pull at the fabric and make it look like I am about to explode out of said sweater. I don’t care how skinny you are, if you’re wearing a button up cardigan and EVERY SINGLE button is gaping, it’s not flattering.

One of the best pieces of advice for button bands that I have ever gotten was to use your swatch to test how often you need to pick up stitches in order to get the perfect number. Believe it or not, I actually did this with my coolbreeze sweater. The integrity of the yarn changed so drastically I didn’t anticipate the drape well.

I love the coolbreeze pattern so much that I am determined to make it work out. It has no chance to thwart my plan, this cardigan WILL behave!! Trust me, it’s happening.