Knitting with Vintage Buttons

This past Sunday during the clear-weather hours between our recent snow storms, I decided to peruse one of my favorite local shops: The Rockland Antiques Marketplace. When I visit thrift shops or antique shops, I’m not hunting for fine collectors’ items. No, I look for craft supplies.

I like to think about repurposing things. I’ve been known to buy a dresser and repaint it. I’ve been known to make a side table out of a tall, heavy candlestick with a fancy plate glued to the top. Once I even bought a chair and reupholstered it because I wanted to figure out how. Sometimes I buy sweaters and unravel them for yarn or felt them and cut them up for scraps. Sometimes I buy sweaters just to cut the buttons off.

This time, it was buttons that caught my eye. I got lost in a little cabinet full of buttons that I actually overlooked on my first swoop though the shop. Intricate, delicate buttons, some of which I was told dated back to the Victorian era. Many knitters realize that buttons can make or break a knitting project, and take great care in selecting the perfect buttons to complement their loving handiwork. We sell buttons at Over the Rainbow Yarn and I’ve seen and often helped people pore over their options, laying out a slew of buttons one after another atop their knitted sweater, hat, or cowl, and standing back to contemplate each one.

Something I haven’t often seen people do is begin with the buttons and build the knitting project around them. But since I walked out with a handful of uncommonly inspiring buttons, I decided to do just that as soon as I got home. I was lucky enough to be able to knit straight through the evening and the following day thanks to Winter Storm Orson.

Along with the buttons, I picked up this little rosette pendant. To me, it called out for a knitted i-cord to hang on. I find knitted i-cord makes lovely jewelry with a look both elegant and casual. Using lace or fingering-weight yarn and US 1 needles, you can make a fine enough cord to easily string through a pendant. I picked a merino wool/silk blend with a subtle shimmer and a muted colorway that reminded me of the antique shop, and I finished it with a simple knot that’s easily adjustable for different lengths. I even think the knot looks quite nice with the ends of the i-cord hanging down the back. Knitted i-cord jewelry is a fine way to use up little bits and pieces of leftover yarn too. You can do it a bit absent-mindedly while watching TV or contemplating your next project, like I did. It works up quickly. I recommend it highly!

I thought two coordinating i-cord necklaces would be a nice look, and these genuine crystal buttons with this rusty orange lace-weight yarn just felt right. Since they’re made of crystal, they’re fairly heavy. They make the extremely lightweight cord hang nicely without flying away. I knit a rope with buttons on the end of it, secured with knots. I came up with several ways to wear it as a necklace. I think I might wear it as a headband or a belt some time. I like to get creative with clothing.

All the while, I’d been designing these fingerless mitts in my head. I used Berroco Ginkgo for the body of the mitts and Boboli Lace for the accents. I consulted my stash and picked these colors specifically to coordinate with these dainty gold-toned buttons. It’s a basic design, all about the accents. The mitts are knitted and the edgings are crocheted, because the more crafts involved, the more fun, of course. I couldn’t be more pleased with how they came out. What do you guys think?

P.S. Don’t tell Stacy at Rockland Antiques Marketplace, but I think I’m going to gift these mitts to her for giving me such a generous deal on the buttons, and for the pleasant chat about buttons and crafts.

Written by Lauren Chesis

Lauren Chesis

2 Comments on “Knitting with Vintage Buttons

  1. What a wonderful find! Love how you incorporated them into your necklace and glove designs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *