Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Knitting tools: the stitch marker

Sometimes when you're knitting, it's really handy to have a marker to slip over the needle between two stitches . You might be calling your attention to an increase or decrease to the left or the right of the marker, you might want to identify where a lace pattern begins or ends before the next repeat so it's easier to notice a mistake, or - when knitting in the round - you might simply want to mark your starting point.

recognize this?  it's a shawl I started about a year ago and really need to pick up again.

There are many, many options for stitch markers.

For free, you can wind a wired baggie closure into a loop, like Trish does, and never worry again about the horror of a lost stitch marker.  Or you can take a scrap of brightly coloured leftover yarn and tie it into a loop a little bigger than your needle size - though if you do that, I recommend a fiber that doesn't want to grab onto everything around it, the way mohair and alpaca and feltable wool do.  Try cotton, or superwash wool.

Etsy is full of amazing handmade markers.  A bead might be strung onto a thin bit of fishing line or silicon - I found I knit into those by accident a few times too many to suit me - or they might be wrapped securely onto a rigid wire.  In the case of rigid markers, I prefer the kind where the cut edge is wrapped tight and close to the bead, because otherwise it catches on my yarn.  Or the totally snag free option, like the ones I spotted at Gloria Patre Spin N Knit.

I received these stitch markers as gifts and I love them both so much.

For a long time, I bought stitch markers from an Etsy shop that's since closed... very tiny wire loops with very tiny coloured beads I could code so that all the red rounds marked pattern repeats, and a pink square marked the start of the round.  So. Much. Love.

Unfortunately most of those are all tied up now in projects I've had to set aside, and that left me with a hole in my marker supply just when I was working on Ferryboat Mitts (you really need markers to knit a pair of Ferryboat Mitts.)

So recently I tried the stitch markers from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.

I love shopping at that site and would love to visit the actual store some day.  Meanwhile, the little treats I buy arrive perfectly packaged, a gift to myself.  And the stitch markers are among my favourites.

They don't catch on anything.  They're a nice size.  They come in a little tin that's big enough not only for the markers but for the repurposed plastic case I use to store my darning needles (it used to protect a memory card for a digital camera - very flat and compact for knitting tool storage!)

The tin makes a nice shaking sound when I carry it around, and unlike the tiny pill case I used for the tiny coloured-bead markers...

... it's super easy to find on my desk.  Stacks, too.

(yes, I also bought some safety pins.  I use those to mark rows.)

Do you have a favourite stitch marker solution?

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