Spacing Out (buttonholes)

The buttonholes are spaced.  The issue is not where to put them, but how to explain it.

Four 3-stitch buttonholes in a 35-stitch band

This is 2011.  In order to space 4 buttonholes evenly across a 35-stitch horizontal band, I turned to my (hopefully) trusty new iPod app, ButtonWizard.  It worked.  This is, however, TKGA Hand Knitting Master Program Level II.  They will not be happy, probably, with buttonholes ex machina.  So I began to search around for the arithmetic to explain what the program did.  And got exactly nowhere.

Search online for “buttonhole spacing knitting” or whatever order of those words you like and you will get a bunch of advice on, essentially, eyeballing it.  The 2008 article in the Cast On “On your Way to the Masters” series says the same: knit the button band.  Mark where the top and bottom buttons will go (no more than 0.5 inch from the ends of the band).  Mark where you want the remaining buttons, pretty much by eye.  Then measure and/or count the rows (these instructions seem to assume a vertical band) in between the buttons and make your buttonholes accordingly.  This method does not seem 1) particularly precise, 2) useful for horizontal bands (of which I found nothing), or 3) useful for a project in which the bands are knit at the same time and intrinsic to the body.

Now, as far as precision goes, we all know that it is better to look right than to be right.  That is, in some cases and for unknown reasons, sometimes what looks even isn’t technically, and what is precisely right might look off.  We often fudge a row: to perform a technique on the Right Side, to make shaping even, etc.  So okay, there.

This all seems odd because there is a precise way to do this.  The calculators, obviously, exist.  The programmers of these calculators don’t share their math because, well, if you’re using the calculator, you don’t need the math.  Websites that mention using the calculators tell you what you will need to input, not how they work.  I expected June Hiatt, the Knitting Goddess of Precision and Correctness, to weigh in.  If she does, it’s not indexed properly, but I’ve really looked, and I don’t see it.  The buttonhole chapter tells you how to work a dizzying variety of buttonholes, with various “improvements” (mentioned my prior post), but doesn’t tell you how to space them evenly, in any type of band.  The information is not in the “Calculations for Pattern Making” either.

Here is where I admit that I am not sure I have the mental fortitude to back-engineer the calculation used by the spacing program.  I am not sure what others have done to arrive at this same spacing: 4 stitches – (3 stitch buttonhole – 5 stitches) x 3 – 3 stitch buttonhole – 4 stitches.  If you know of a reference for the pen-and-paper calculation of evenly-spaced buttonholes in a horizontal knitted band, please leave a comment!

About The International Knitter of Mystery

If I told you about me, I wouldn't be The International Knitter of MYSTERY, now would I? But I can tell you that "Danger" is my middle name.
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