How to knit a vertical buttonhole

A simple technique to make a vertical buttonhole for knitting beginners

A lot of knitting projects need buttons to be fastened. Cardigans come to mind, but also pillow covers or pouches. Now, maybe you already know a simple technique for a buttonhole. But how do you make a vertical buttonhole? Well, it really couldn’t be easier and this tutorial is all about it.

someone showing a simple vertical buttonhole in knitting

In knitting, vertical buttonholes are actually much easier to knit than horizontal ones. It might be quite a bit more difficult to reinforce them but the basics are super simple and you only need to know how to knit a yarn over and how to knit two stitches together.

close up of a vertical buttonhole knitting on a table

Let’s dive right into it!

Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.

Instructions: How to knit a vertical buttonhole

someone showing how to make a vertical buttonhole in knitting

This vertical buttonhole is worked across one row only. It creates a small opening for smaller buttons and works very well placed on a band of ribbing.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  1. Knit up to the position where you want to place your buttonhole.

    knitting to the position where the buttonhole needs to be placed
  2. Add a yarn over.

    adding a yarn over
  3. Knit the next two stitches together.

    knitting the next two stitches together
  4. Continue knitting in pattern.

    continuing to knit in pattern
  5. In the next row, when you come across the yarnover, simply knit it according to your pattern. This example is knitted in stockinette stitch, so you purl across.

    purling the yarn over in the next row


Instead of starting with a yarn over, you could also lead with an SSK and then add the yarn over. Try it out. I personally believe it looks a bit less neat but maybe it works for you!

a swatch with a vertical buttonhole created with a k2tog and one created with ssk side by side

Be aware that you would have to stop 2 stitches BEFORE you want to place the buttonhole in this case.

Bigger vertical buttonholes

a swatch with a slightly bigger vertical yarn over in knitting

If you need a slightly bigger vertical buttonhole, you can add a double yarn over instead of a regular one. The rest is just as easy.

Step 1: Add a double yarn over (so wrap the yarn around the needle twice instead of just once.

adding a double yarn over

Step 2: Knit two stitches together.

knitting the next two stitches together

Step 3: When you come across the double yarn over in the next row, drop one wrap.

dropping one wrap of the yarn over off the needles

Step 4: Knit the remaining wrap according to your pattern.

purling the remaining yarn over wrap

This way to work a buttonhole is great for simple projects. You will notice that these buttonholes are prone to wear out. So, I typically would try to avoid them in any projects where the buttons experience a lot of wear and tear. It can be the perfect choice for the dress of a doll or pillow cover.

Anyway, that’s how to make a vertical buttonhole in knitting. Comment below if you have any questions.

how to knit a vertical buttonhole - a tutorial for beginners

2 thoughts on “How to knit a vertical buttonhole”

  1. Could you explain the best way to sew on a button? Do you use sewing thread or yarn? Do you need to use ribbon backing along the button band to make it secure?

    • It depends on what kind of button you’re using, tbh. I find shank buttons the easiest to do with knitting because you can knit them in instead of having to sew them on, which I think makes them stronger. The way I do it is to push the yarn into the hole of the shank using a mattress needle or a tiny crochet hook, so that the yarn forms a loop through the hole. Then I catch that loop with my right needle and pull it taught, as if it were a normal wrap, and then pull it through the stitch like normal, except I also pull the button through. It works better if the button doesn’t have a directional design on it, as it can be tricky to line them up properly.
      Most other kinds of buttons would require sewing them on, and ones designed for thread will have holes too small for yarn. Two+ holed buttons with holes big enough for yarn will be larger, which may not be desirable for all projects.


Leave a Comment

Skip to Instructions