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Joji Locatelli’s Gossamer is absolutely on my “to make” list for the winter. I plan to use it as a warming layer under my coat for extra-nasty days, and as a snuggly wrap for days I need a bit of glamorous comfort. I’m just as excited about the relaxing knitting this project will provide: I’ve got hours of TV to catch up on, this will be just the thing.

It’s a straightforward knit, but let’s take a closer look at two technical points: the slipped stitches, and the buttonholes.

The Slipped Stitches

Sl 1 = slip a stitch. There’s more to this instruction than it might seem, as you’ve got two decisions to make. The first is how to put the needle into the stitch; the second is where the yarn should be.

Unless otherwise instructed, when slipping a stitch, always put the needle into the stitch as if you’re going to purl it— often referred to as “slipping purlwise.” (The only time you slip a stitch knitwise is as part of a decrease.)

At the start of a row

The other consideration is where the yarn should be. Sometimes a pattern is explicit about this, sometimes it’s not. When slipping a stitch at the start of a row, unless otherwise stated, the rule is to slip with yarn held to the wrong side of the work. That is, on a RS row, hold the yarn at the back and then slip the stitch:

On a WS row, hold the yarn at the front of the work, and then slip the stitch:

In the middle of a row

Slipped stitches in the middle of the rows of the back of Gossamer provide a pretty detail at the center of the back and flow elegantly into the edging when you separate for the fronts. Because the move is slightly unusual—slipping two stitches instead of one—the instruction is specific about the yarn position: “sl 2 wyif” means slip two stitches with the yarn held in the front.

You’ll have just worked a knit stitch, so bring the yarn to the front and leave it there while you slip the next two stitches purlwise, then take the yarn to the back into position to knit the next stitch, tugging on it a bit. This will cause the two slipped stitches to snug up together, and push away from you and towards the RS to make the rib stand out even more.

On the following rows those stitches are knit normally. The result is this handsome detail, a rib of slightly elongated knit stitches that stand out from the rest of the fabric:

The Buttonholes

This pattern uses my favorite type of buttonhole: the tidy and flexible yarnover/decrease combo. It works well here because it’s fairly inconspicuous, so it doesn’t look funny if you’re not buttoning up. And it’s stretchy to accommodate a range of button sizes.

Joji has used two versions: one with ssk, and one with k2tog. Because you’re working in ribbing, you need to pay a little bit of attention to the yarnover.

When working the back, the buttonholes are worked at the start of RS rows, as [yo, ssk].

For this one, you’ll have just worked a purl stitch, so the yarn already is positioned at the front. To make the yarnover, drape the yarn over the right-hand needle, then work the ssk decrease.

Yarn is draped over right needle. Working the ssk with the yarn in this position will complete the buttonhole.

When working the fronts, the buttonholes are worked at the end of RS rows, as [k2tog, yo].

Work the k2tog first, of course, which puts the yarn at the back. To make the yarnover, bring the yarn to the front, drape it over the right hand needle and bring it around to the front again, to be in position for the following stitch, which is a purl.

Yarn is wrapped all the way around right needle. Working the following purl stitch with the yarn in this position will complete the buttonhole.

Buttonhole done!

If you find, over time, that the buttonholes stretch out, or are a little too big for your buttons, you can tighten then up a bit. Cut yourself a few inches of yarn, and using a darning needle, catch the loops of neighboring stitches, just at the very edge of the hole. Cinch it up a tiny bit, and then weave the ends in.

I hope these tips are helpful. Time for me to cast on!

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About The Author

Kate Atherley is a teacher, designer, author and technical editor. She’s also the publisher of Digits & Threads, a magazine all about Canadian fibre and textile arts.


  • Thanks for the tips and the explanation!

  • Thank you! Happy holidays everyone.

    • Elena Bucheli, Quito Ecuador
      I like knitting but I am not a profesional. Your tips are a great help yo me. Thanks!

  • Thank you, Kate. These small finishing touches make a big difference. I am putting this information with the pattern.

    Gossamer is on my list. A simple, versatile piece that adds a level of interest (and warmth) as a pop of color for dark winter days or a chic and subtle neutral for an elegant finish. I might need to make two….

  • My Gossamer is done and ready for blocking, so these tips will have to be applied to future projects. The slip stitch info for the start of the row is golden!

  • I love the way you explain things Kate. You make even things I thought I knew more concrete. And when I’m teaching I often ‘borrow’ your explanations as they are simple and straightforward. Thank you!

  • Great tips – I love that you explain every.little.bit. I wish more patterns were that specific.

  • Thank you, Kate. The best explanations as always. Can’t wait to cast mine on in January! Has anyone found a source for those beautiful little buttons?

  • Thank you Kate. I really appreciate your explanation of starting the row with slip stitches. Can’t wait to get started.

  • I’m 3/4 finished with the back and wish I had known about where the yarn goes on a slip stitch at the beginning of a row. I hope it won’t make that much difference. This project is taking me longer than I hoped but I’m sure I will love the final result!

  • Perhaps when you press is blocked the running will stand out more. It’s a bit hard to see in your photo.

  • Bookmarked this one, as the when-and-how-to-slip rule is in the list of knitting lessons I wish I knew by heart. Thank you!

  • Thank you for the very helpful advise!

  • Kate, thanks for sharing these tips- it makes it a lot less scary than working it out over and over!!

  • Thanks for these tips, Kate!

  • Love this vest can I get the pattern?

  • Beautiful, intelligent wording, great fun to read about- working toward a life where I will have to time to knit

  • Thank you, Kate! I just cast on a Gossamer for a dear friend’s upcoming milestone birthday! I’m using 2 different shade of purple together and the colour is wonderful. I’ve finished the ribbing and the first buttonhole, but had some questions in my mind before continuing. Now that I’ve come across your tips and photos I need not look any further!

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