It’s a snap… kind of

While I’m crossing the T’s on the Rodeo Kid pattern – just have to take a photo of my kid friend wearing the jacket! – I thought I’d share a brief tutorial that I developed while writing this pattern.

Ever wanted to use snaps as a closure on a knitted garment? It seems like such a great idea – much easier than buttons for a little kid to fasten and unfasten, for example. But yanking open those snaps over and over again would surely stretch the knitting out of shape.

The solution is to borrow a time-honored tradition in button-band finishing: sewing on some ribbon as a facing on the underside of each button band. My mother used to do this on sweaters even when she was using buttons – again, to keep the knitting from stretching out of shape over time.

So here’s what you do (instructions here apply to a cardigan):

  1. Ideally, purchase your ribbon after completing most of the garment, but before knitting the button bands. That way, you can choose the ribbon you like, and then knit the button bands to the correct width to support that ribbon. Select a ribbon that is not too thick (e.g., avoid a hefty grosgrain), or you won’t be able to get your snaps through the combined knitted-ribbon layers.
  2. Work up your button bands. Make them slightly wider than your ribbon. Just a centimeter on either side will be plenty of extra width.
  3. Block your sweater, making sure block the button bands carefully.
  4. Cut two lengths of your ribbon, each a few inches longer than your button bands.
  5. Pin the ribbon lengths to the underside of the button bands.
  6. Using a sharp embroidery needle and clear, nylon thread, carefully stitch the ribbon down to the button band. As you go, keep checking to make sure that neither the ribbon nor the button band are buckling. You want both to lie flat.
  7. Following the instructions on your packet of snaps, clamp the snaps together through the button band / ribbon layer. This step can be a bit tricky, since the teeth on snaps are typically not very long, and the knitting and ribbon together can be quite thick. Still, with some persistence, I managed to get regular-sized snaps through a worsted-weight yarn worked in seed stitch and a fairly substantial ribbon.
  8. If you care about such things, put the top snaps on the left button band for a boy’s/men’s sweater, on the right button band for a girl’s/women’s sweater.