Posted by: jinniver | May 31, 2009

The search for the perfect button

I’m not into accessorizing.  I own 2 purses, only 1 of which I use.  I think I have 10 pairs of shoes, but all but 2–my sandals and sneakers–are gathering dust.  I’ve got some nice jewelry, but almost all I ever wear is my wedding band and mother’s bracelet (I think once Lexie gets back the pulling stage, I’ll wear more necklaces and earrings).

However, I have discovered that accessorizing my handknits is important….make that essential.

After all, when you think about it, a lot of time goes into creating these one-of-a-kind pieces (not to mention a lot of money, in some cases…and always a lot of love).  Once I’d finished Jeffrey’s Christmas Spices Cardigan and held it up for a good look, I knew I couldn’t just slap any old buttons from Jo-ann’s.  A handmade sweater, I decided, deserved handmade buttons.  And I knew I wanted wood, without a doubt.

I headed to etsy and did a search for “wooden buttons.”  A plethora of options popped up, but I found exactly what I was looking for in the first few entries:  Wooden Treasures.

I adored the way these buttons were made:  shop owner Jay takes tree branches and slices them into buttons, then polishes them.  Some of his buttons have the bark left on the sides, which I loved…but for this sweater (and for a 4-year-old who would be doing the buttoning) I thought smooth sides would be best.  The only problem I had was that the pattern called for 1/2 inch buttons (and I’d only done a single yarn over buttonhole), and most of Jay’s buttons were an inch or larger.  But then I found these oak buttons that were 3/4 inch and just beautifully patterned.   I jumped on them right away.

I wasn’t disappointed when they arrived.  They turned out to be bigger than advertised (almost a full inch), and they were thicker than I expected (about 1/4 inch).  That made them a tough fit with the buttonholes.  The reasonable thing to do would have been to keep them for a later project (because I wasn’t giving them up) and then custom order a set that would fit.  After all, I had the time to wait, since Jeffrey’s not going to be wearing the sweater until fall.

Christmas Spices Cardigan (7)

So much for the reasonable thing.

The buttons were just so perfect for the sweater.  And I think the slightly oversized buttons are such a cute look for this pattern.  Jeffrey certainly adored them–when I had him show off the sweater to family over the webcam, all he wanted to talk about was that his sweater had “1-2-3-4-5!” buttons.  I had to stretch out the buttonholes a bit, but that’s the nice thing about wool yarn…it stretches.

Now I’m hunting for some more buttons, with a completely different set of criteria.  I need the buttons for this:

Feb Lady Can't Say No (1)

My February Lady Sweater is coming along nicely.  I’m absolutely adoring the feel of the Three Irish Girls Wexford Merino Silk, and the variations in the semisolid blue I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No (like the yarns in the Christmas Spices Cardigan, this is an exclusive colorway for the Three Irish Girls’ Stash Menagerie club) are beautiful.  Picking the perfect buttons for this isn’t going to be easy.  They need to be able to hold their own with the silk blend yarn and the wonderful color, without competing.  Back to etsy I went…

For some reason, searching for these buttons were a lot harder–I was getting a lot of results that weren’t what I was looking for.  The search function on etsy could use some work…as well as the filing of items by shop owners.  If I’m doing a search in the “handmade” section, I really shouldn’t be getting items with “vintage” in the title.  Once a Twitter friend pointed out that I could do exclusions in the search, I finally was able to narrow down the options to a searchable number (with about 20 exclusions added).

Right now, I’ve got three options in mind.  I looked at glass buttons first, because I thought that sparkle would be wonderful with the silk.  Most of the options were not what I was looking for, but I fell pretty hard for these.  (Edit: If you click through to this listing, you’ll see it has been solid.  It’s possible I know something about that…)  The problem is that I think this button set might be a little too prima donna to share billing with the sweater.  I’m also not sure the blues will work–and I’ve had a friend look at them who agrees on both points.  I may end up buying them anyway, though (if they’re still there) and then finding something to knit for them!

I also looked at clay buttons.  There, I found a lot more options–almost all of which came from the same etsy store–but my favorites were these.  The color looks like it would be perfect, and I love dragonflies.   The same etsy store also has some buttons with Celtic knots that I would love (although the particular buttons are a bit too green).   My concern with these is that matching the blues will be hard (same as with the glass buttons) but if I do match, the buttons will end up playing understudy to the sweater.

Finally, I found these.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think of metal at first. I love these pewter buttons, and the stamping on them even looks like 4 leaf clovers–how appropriate for a sweater knit with yarn from Three Irish Girls?  The problem with this set is that they’re too small–they’re 5/8 inches, and I sized my buttonhole about an inch.  However, the shop owner welcomes custom requests, so I could have buttons made in the size and number I need.

Now I just have to make a decision…and stop searching and adding more possibilities to the list!



  1. I vote for the metal buttons

    • Good! That’s what I ended up ordering. 🙂


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