The smallest possible buttonhole you can make in knitting is only one stitch wide, and one stitch tall. The classic eyelet buttonhole is simply yo, k2tog. It leaves a one stitch hole in your fabric, but it’s also a rather weak hole, prone to stretching out over time.
This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while – how to make the basic yo, k2tog buttonhole better. After some trial and testing, both by myself and some lovely people on Ravelry, I think I’ve got something worth posting about.
The Improved Eyelet Buttonhole is quite symmetrical and doesn’t have any single strands of yarn to take all the stress, unlike the yarnover eyelet. It’s also surprisingly stretchy considering how sturdy it is. It works best with a springy yarn, and a background fabric gauge that’s a little on the tight side. It’s particularly sturdy widthways, so I think it would work fantastically on baby cardis with knitted-in buttonholes, or button-up cuffs on gloves. Or anywhere where you need a small buttonhole really!
I happily admit to taking inspiration from the Tulips buttonhole by Techknitter, which is a rock-solid and perfectly symmetrical horizontal buttonhole. I’m a big fan of her approach to knitting construction in general. If you’ve also tried out the Tulips buttonhole, then maybe you’ll like this too.
The Improved Eyelet Buttonhole (IEB!) is worked over 3 rows and 1 stitch, and doesn’t require any extra equipment. The hole comes out at roughly the same size as a yarnover in the same yarn, and it’s centred on the second row. This eyelet involves significantly more steps than a yarnover eyelet, in much the same way the Tulips buttonhole requires more steps than a Bind-off/cast-on buttonhole, but hopefully it’ll prove worth it.