10 Mar 2009

The button makes the sweater

I believe I have admitted, probably more than once, to having a wee bit of a button inclination. It’s not quite an obsession, but it does go several notches beyond fancy. I am especially more than a little fond of the chunky Bakelite buttons that look like layers of chocolate and caramel. Colored glass buttons are also a treat, and oh,oh, oh, those carved Lucite ones with the little flowers! I love those. They will go with nothing in my wardrobe, either now or in the future, but I still find them strangely compelling. I don’t have any, but I want some, and I can’t tell you why.

So it will come as no surprise that when a listener and fellow button afficianado sent me a link to a massive online button auction, I swooned. Yes, honestly. I did. I saw the Bakelite and the world went gray for an instant there. Oh. My. Dears.

Here are just a few of what’s on offer between now, and March 22nd, when the final auction ends. (Click the images to visit the auction pages for these.)


Yummy enough to eat, these are Bakelite cookies. Yes. That is their actual official name.


This is from a collection of Japanese Kutani Ceramic buttons. The pattern is lily of the valley and, depending on the weight, could make a gorgeous shawl pin for a lily of the valley shawl. Or simply furnish an awesome excuse for knitting a cardigan with a single button closure, just for the pleasure of using this button.

Finally, a job lot of Bakelite buckles and dress clips, and the possibilities are endless here. Sweater closures. Felted bag clips. File them under General Embellishments.


These are a few of the auctions I’d love to bid on, but won’t be, owing to the recent bill from Welsh Water. (It’s an annual bill, and though I know it’s coming every year, the amount always surprises me. That much? Really? But it’s just water…)

I do have my eye on a couple of auctions, though I won’t say which, but I’ll update here if I win any of them. The fact that I seriously considered keeping quiet about this wonderful auction, to better my chances, tells you something right there about the strange hold that buttons have on me. I don’t usually have such selfish thoughts. It must have been the buttons talking.

Thanks to my Official Button Enabler, Annabel.

Posted on March 10, in Blog


  1. christie wrote:

    Loved your descriptions of buttons and seeing the wonderful photos. Thanks for posting this great blog especially because it is my Mom’s auction and she worked really hard on it and because you totally made her day…… she loves listening to you. Good luck in the bidding I hope you win your favorite lots. Cheers, Christie

    Posted on 3.10.09 ·
  2. Audrey wrote:

    I understand your love of buttons. They can make or break a hand knit sweater. I have a deep love of ceramic buttons and have some stashed away to knit a sweater around. A kniterly friend last week showed me the wooden pegs she salvaged from her old viola that she wants to use as buttons on a cardigan. See, you are not the only one who thinks to knit around the closures 🙂

    Posted on 3.11.09 ·
  3. I love the buckles! They’d be perfect with an inkle-loom-woven belt. And buttons, definitely. You must choose the absolute perfect button(s) for your sweater, or you’ll ruin the effect.

    Posted on 3.11.09 ·
  4. Diane W wrote:

    Good luck! I see several things that are worth lusting over.

    Posted on 3.11.09 ·
  5. I found, at a yard sale, a huge tin of buttons. Yes, the world went gray there, for a minute. When I recovered, I paid for the box and ran home and played in the buttons all day long. This was about 12 years ago. I still play in the buttons. There are many bakelite wonders in there. I consider my button box one of my treasures.

    I recently inherited my mother’s sewing supplies. In her sewing drawer is a battered old jewelry box of shell buttons, which she cut off of, presumably, discarded clothing. It brought a tear to my eye to know that my mother was silly for shell buttons, and also that she kept this little secret. No one knew of her secret stash of shell buttons. Some are large and some are small and some in between, but clearly, all were her little treasures.

    Posted on 3.12.09 ·
  6. I just scored some fantastic wooden buttons made of consecutive slices of tree branches. I got both the cedar and the spalted maple. Yum! A little too chunky for the average cardi but they’ll be perfect for coats and bags. Oh – and they’re CHEAP! He even sent me some extra freebies!

    Posted on 3.16.09 ·
  7. Joan Gale wrote:

    I too have had a love affair with Bakelite buttons for about 15 years now. I used to make pins out of them. Now that I’m retired, I don’t wear blouses or blazers any more, so they are just sitting in the jewelry box. Perhaps I’ll be able to use them on some vests someday. They are soooooo wonderful. My most unusual Bakelite pin is of a little Brownie Scout. Very adorable. And, the buckles are the greatest. I also have bracelets, but with arthritis can no longer get them over my large hands. I guess my granddaughter will be lucky some day. Anyway, they are worth every penny, if you have any these days.

    Posted on 3.21.09 ·
  8. Rae Kaiser wrote:

    I think vintage buttons are little pieces of art.

    Posted on 3.24.09 ·

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