Picking up and knitting stitches for a button band

I am working on my first (and last) cardigan and having trouble with picking up and knitting stitches for the button band. I have been going into both loops of the selvedge edge and it looked fine until I got to the decreases which creates a curved edge. If I continue to pick up the selvedge, it looks messy. The nice neat column disappears and there are some holes appearing. I have tried picking up the stitch below the selvedge edge and that looks better but I lose the look of the neat column. What do you recommend?

Are your decreases worked with the end stitch? If so that’s the problem. For future reference, whenever it’s possible moving the decrease over a stitch or two from the edge makes for the nice column of stitches you want and need. I don’t know because I’ve never tried it but I wonder - would it work to skip that stitch and if needed increase on your first row to get the correct stitch count? I’m expecting salmonmac for sure to have a good approach to the problem, probably others too.

Currently I’m working an applied I cord on a shawl that I couldn’t see a way to move all decreases over and so far I’ve been lucky that my I cord is looking OK. I hope it still does after blocking.

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Thanks GG.
It’s not so straightforward picking up sts around the curve but it actually can work out quite nicely.
You don’t have to work the math since your pattern probably gives you the total number of sts to pick up or the number to pick up in different parts of the neckline. I like to mark off the neckline in fourths to make sure I pick up fairly evenly.

This video is for a pullover neckline but the idea around the curve is the same. Adjusting the stitch count on the next row is one approach that will work. I’m not so fond of picking up in the loop or gap on the curve but it can work.

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Thanks for your reply. I was picking up and knitting on the decreases as I had been doing on the vertical stitches. I have undone those stitches and I am now picking up the stitch 1 over from the edge. It is neater, but I no longer have the nice straight column I had. I have never done a button band before and I have been trying to learn by watching Youtube videos. There are several different approaches. I had done the whole thing, and knit a couple of rows of the ribbed edge. I didn’t like the way it looked so I ripped the whole thing out. This is my 2nd try.

Good luck with your I cord. I didn’t know what that was so I looked it up.


Thanks. I just spent hours figuring out an acceptable way to join new yarn and not screw up the I cord. I could have ripped it out and redone it faster. I understand about starting and restarting. “This is the last time I’m starting over for the last time,” are my famous last words. You’ll get yours done and I’m sure it will look just fine. Don’t be hard on yourself. I learned here to ask, would it be noticed from the back of a galloping horse?

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A couple of things I do to neaten up the look are

  1. Use a smaller needle for the pick up row. Pushing a larger needle into the stitch can enlarge that stitch, altering the tension there and this could be tightened later but I try not to over stretch the edge stitches in the first place. Using a smaller needle also means the pick ups are tighter, less yarn for each stitch, and this helps keep it all a bit more together too. Change to the correct size needle after the pick up.

  2. I go in one stitch from the edge for the pick up around a curve or decreased area. When you start doing this it does feel like the inside just got messy and bulky and not as neat as the straight edge. But, once you’re finished that little extra on the inside will not be a bother, no one sees it and it will seem smaller after the whole garment is done and washed. Focusing on it while knitting makes it appear like a big deal.

  3. If it looks a bit holey on the pick up due to trying to acheive the stitch count I pick-up extra, some times I put a marker on the sweater where I put in an extra stitch and will reduce by decreasing at or near that spot on row 1.

  4. Because the edge gets a bit pulled on during pick up the stitches there may still become large and look like a hole. It is possible to gently draw that yarn tighter away from the edge and into the next stitch in the row, then gradually draw the extra yarn across the row which distributes it back into the stitches kn the same row. They all end up looking the same size as before but with the edge stitch fixed (an enlarged edge stitch means it has pulled yarn away from other stitches in the row, so this is putting it back).

  5. If all else fails and there is still a loose connection somewhere you can do some fixing later either by tightening on the inside or by adding in a duplicate stitch in any bad spots.
    I recently had a button band on some colour work and due to the excess of yarn ends and tricky bits of tensioning in the colour work, some parts of my button band insisted on being loose. I used the same colour yarn with a tapestry needle and added a duplicate stitch on the hole, this duplicate stitch can be pulled to the correct tension and magically closes the hole. Then weave in both ends of the extra piece of yarn on the inside along the pick up edge or invisibly in the button band if it is a ribbed band.
    I think I did 3 or 4 of these on my button band and no one knows.

Oh hang on - now everyone knows!

Good luck with the button band.
Why is this the last cardigan? Too stressful?
The second one will be easier.

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@GrumpyGramma at times I purposely add in new yarn mid row. I know all the tutorials say to add at the edge but I find new yarn at the edge makes for either a loose edge I don’t want to seam or pick up in, or if I weave the tails before seaming I can end up with extra bulk there which isn’t great for a seam and the stitches are not so easy to see and follow for seaming. I like weaving in mid row using duplicate stitch, it is so neat, stretchy, and does not bulk the seams out.
Just thought I’d mention as it may help you with your icord if all the adding in is done away from your edge.
Of course this doesn’t really work in a very open lace pattern so it’s not always possible.


Adding yarn mid-row is the preferable way to do it. It saves you from having bulky edges due to yarn ends that have been woven in. Sometimes it can’t be avoided but if possible, join a new end mid-row.


Thanks to all for your great advice. What a wonderful forum and community this is! In response to why it is probably my last cardigan, partly because of the button band, but mostly because I am more of a pullover wearer.


Thanks. I’m guilty of adding yarn wherever it works as long as it’s not right at the edge. Duplicate stitch on the WS is fantastic for weaving in ends and not having a big ugly when you see the WS too so I’ll use it on the ends on the shawl. For this project I finally managed a Russian join and used it successfully several times. The problem was that with five stitches for my I cord edge the double thick yarn looked horrible so I ripped it out. Just dropping the old yarn and starting with the new didn’t work, one stitch with both yarns didn’t work - both left loose, messy, ugliness I couldn’t manage to fix thanks to the k2tog tbl to join it to the main piece. I even tried a knot. :grimacing: Yesterday I think what finally worked was two stitches with both yarns worked where they’ll roll to the WS. No, I’m not certain that’s what I did but I think it is. I have ends that will disappear inside the I cord. The shawl is motifs so I have lots of ends across that edge.

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Hopefully your button band is going to go well now.
We’re always glad to help.

What if you just forget the button band, but finish the cardigan with a decorative edge instead. Of course, you won’t be able to button it up, but you’ll have a pretty little finished edge.

I hadn’t thought of that. Even though my button band won’t actually have any button holes or buttons, it is a couple of inches of ribbing which I could use for the extra circumference. Thanks for your suggestion.