What’s in your knitting bag? Stitch Markers!

A sometime series on What is in Your Knitting Bag? This one is Stitch Markers and Holders.

Stitch markers and holders are one of the little joys of knitting.  I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, but I can ALWAYS find a little extra dosh at the bottom of my wallet for a few pretty stitch markers.

They are little bits of joy that you sprinkle on your knitting projects to appease the knitting gods – and it works!!

First let’s differentiate between markers and holders.

Markers are used to mark your place as you knit. This place can be between the stitches on your needle or in the fabric you have already knit.

Holders actually HOLD your stitches. The most traditional types of holders look like long safety pins, but there are other options.

Stitch Holders

The purpose of stitch holders is to hold the stitches for you while you work on something else.  Your stitches might be on the holder for 5 minutes, 6 hours, 10 days, or in one extreme case in my life – 5 years.

Temporary

If you know that you are only going to be holding those stitches for a short or relatively short time then the safety pin type holder is probably the most useful.

Stitch Markers and Holders

It’s a good idea to have a few of these.  Stitches will go on these very easily, they don’t usually come undone (although it’s been known to happen), and it’s easy to get stitches back on your working needles from these types of holder.

Long Term

Sometimes you know that the stitches are going to be on hold for a while.  If you are putting a naughty project in time-out for instance, or if you thought it was going to be quick but in fact it’s been months and you want that safety pin holder back for another project – then it’s time to consider an old standby.

The simplest, and frankly my favorite way of holding stitches is to just use  a simple piece of yarn. That is the cheapest and easiest type of stitch holder. It doesn’t matter how long it sits there, you won’t need it for a different project and if you knot the ends together it won’t come undone and lose your stitches.

 HINT: When using a yarn stitch holder I recommend using a completely different color, the same weight yarn or thinner – getting thicker yarn through your stitches is possible, but why make the effort when thinner is easier?

Stitch Markers

Of course, like with stitch holders, it’s not always necessary to buy expensive stitch markers.  Here are a few I just made:  simple, efficient, cheap, useful. You can’t go wrong with this type, ever.

Stitch Markers and Holders

But let’s be honest: it works, but it ain’t sexy.  They don’t always flow from one needle to the next as efficiently as I would like (they tend to get chummy with the other stitches made of yarn), and if you aren’t paying attention you could knit it into your work – it is yarn after all.  So while they certainly work as a stop gap method, or “drat I forgot my knitting notions bag” markers, they really aren’t my favorites.

HINT: If you go this route make sure it’s loose on your needle, made from a contrasting color yarn to prevent you thinking it’s part of the project, and from a different TYPE of yarn (if possible) so you can feel the difference if you don’t happen to be looking at your work.

Once you move beyond the obvious of making stitch markers from yarn there is the less obvious emergency stitch markers: safety pins, paper clips, small washers, hair elastic bands, your wedding ring…it all depends on how desperate you are.

When you start buying stitch markers you open up a Pandora’s Box of choices.  There are small stitch markers and large, open, closed, safety pin types, jewelry types, and simple homemade types.Here are a few of my favorites and some pointers on how and when they are most useful.

Open Stitch Markers

Stitch markers that can be opened and closed, like safety pins are absolutely the most useful type of markers.  They can go on your needle, they can go in the cloth of the project, they be used to mark the front from the back, mark where you need to measure from, or even hold other stitch markers.

Stitch Markers and Holders

These are simple safety pins, but a special breed called “coiless safety pins.”  You can use regular ones but you will find your yarn will sometimes get caught in the coil, and it can make a huge mess!  These are often found with sewing notions in craft stores.  They come in various colors, and sizes. Very useful. I have hundreds.

 

Stitch Markers and HoldersThese plastic types of safety pins have recently become popular, but I am not fond of them.

They work alright, but they are made of brittle plastic and over time they break. And you and I both know that if a stitch marker is going to break it’s going to do that at the MOST inopportune moment imaginable, so I keep these mostly as back up.

 

Stitch Markers and HoldersThese are my current favorites.  Although they generally come in just one slightly smallish size, they open easily and close completely – which I appreciate very much.

They slide easily on a needle and come in various colors to stand out in my work.  If I want a marker to REALLY stand out I sometimes put a few closed stitch markers IN this marker to mark a place specially.

 

Stitch Markers and HoldersHYBRID

This is a hybrid marker. It’s open, and while you can’t fasten it closed it often will stay where it’s put in my knitting. They are pretty. I am still on the fence about these, I keep them in my marker holder but don’t use them often as I probably should.

 

Closed Stitch Markers

Stitch Markers and HoldersClosed markers are only good for one thing. Marking stitches on your needles.  They don’t open and close and they are just one size, so you will end up needing them in various sizes as you knit various projects.

These are the simplest form of closed markers – just rings of hard plastic. They work great, come in lots of colors and sizes. Not a thing wrong with them.  Not my favorites.

 

Stitch Markers and HoldersThat’s because I found these. Exactly the same idea but made with rounded rubbery plastic.  (“Not like the others, they were all too flat”) They slide across my needles too, but not QUITE as easily as the hard plastic ones so they tend to get lost less often.

We should pause a moment here to commemorate all the lost or missing stitch markers.  It’s a very unfortunate thing that as soon as you decide that THIS stitch marker is your absolute favorite it will go “walkies.”

So, as knitters we have two choices. We either coddle and protect our favorites (i.e. don’t use them) or we damn the torpedoes and use the heck out of them until the Knitting Goddesses decide to call them home. I personally use the heck out of my favorites. I even still have some of them!

More Stitch Markers

When you get into other types of stitch markers things can get crazy fun.  Here are a few I like!

The silver one has a small loop on one end for a smaller needle, and a larger loop on the other end for a larger needle. Two stitch markers in one!

I love the monkey ball and the chain-mail rose.  The copper one is great because it really stands out because of the way it sits on the needle (the loop is perpendicular to the dangle).  Hard to miss this one when you are knitting along!

Stitch Markers and HoldersThese three I made from jade, beads, and charms I had lying around. I really like them and they work great. It is sometimes good, when knitting away from home, to have some stitch markers that are uniquely YOURS and don’t look the same as everyone else’s.  In case you drop them.

Current Favorites

Stitch Markers and HoldersThese are a big favorite because they use “mood beads” so the color of the beads changes with the temperature.

At just over $2 each I thought they were a steal when I got some for Mum and I for Christmas a few years ago.

So much so that we got TWICE as many this year for Christmas.  I really love how heavy they are and solid.  The fact that they are often purple doesn’t hurt either!

Stitch Markers and HoldersAnother big favorite in my stable of stitch markers are the simple ring with a bead.

You can get pretty colored rings (in various sizes) and matching or contrasting beads at any craft store and make your own with a dab of superglue.

Easy to make, easy to use, easy to get over the loss of… gotta love that!

Stitch Marker Containers

Now, I know this will come as a huge shock to you, but as soon as I get a number of stitch markers together my instinct is to CONTAINERIZE them. Yes, I know, you are shocked.

But look at all the lovely choices we have!!

Stitch Markers and HoldersThe Eclipse mints container may not be sexy but it snaps shut and it was free (after you buy the mints).  I had a friend a few years ago that was very fond of these and I saw three empty containers in his car and asked for them.  Been using them every since.

The other containers have these fabulous little windows in the cover, which has no intrinsic value as I know what I keep inside there, but fun nonetheless! The only problems I have with these are the noise. They do tend to rattle a lot but if they are in your notions bag, which is in your project bag, it’s not too bad!!

Stitch Markers and HoldersThis type of container has become very popular lately and I am fond of mine.

They have little compartments with lids that hold different things, and then it snaps shut.  My concern is that the plastic is VERY cheap (as in badly made) and I don’t have hopes on them lasting long. That being said we have had these two for over a year and neither one has broken, so I might be wrong about that.

It is possible to find containers similar to this that are a bit beefier at your local fishing tackle shop. They tend to be a bit larger though and so might be better for at home storage, than traveling around in your notions bags.

It really doesn’t matter if they are paperclips, loops of yarn, or beautiful pieces of jewelry for your knitting; stitch markers and stitch holders and very useful knitting tools and should be an integral part of your tool box – and your knitting bag!

Show us yours!

What is your current favorite stitch marker? Why? Where did you get it?  Inquiring minds like mine want to know! Share you pictures in comments or jump over to the Spinfoolish Facebook page and show us your favorite project bag!

Click here to learn more about What is in MY knitting bag.

Tour de Fleece Spinning

Valentina spun this!

You know, there are a lot of things I love about spinning.

I love the fiber. Simply adore the concept of choosing a specific fiber, and spinning it in a specific way to create a yarn that I can do something beautiful with.

I am really happy that I am not a process spinner, or a product spinner – I am a little of both.  That whole process: playing with fiber to make choices, working with fiber to make yarn, and then using the yarn to create something ELSE really works for me!

The feel of my tools – I enjoy that most of my fiber tools are handmade, made of wood, and are pretty to touch and to look at.

And how can you not appreciate the amazing history of spinning – the shoulders, of the shoulders, of the shoulders of the women I stand on whenever I spin fibers together just gives me chills.

All of this is lovely, and seriously is my favorite thing about my life.

But my favorite thing about spinning?

Easy.

This is Iona. She made a video to teach us how to ply on the fly!

It’s the people.

I can honestly say that I can count on ONE hand the number of fiber people who are out and out nasty.

We don’t always agree completely with other people’s opinions or their choices, but one of the magic things when people start talking about spinning (unlike politics or religion) is that we all seem to grow and expand and accept that we are all different – and that IT IS FINE that way.

Melissa spun this!

Some spinners swear by a particular wheel, others by a favorite fiber.  Some spinners cant’ get enough of Navajo plying, others think it’s a waste of time.  Many spinners love hand spindles, while other would much prefer a wheel.  Some like it short, or soft, or purple, or birdseye maple – All of us are NOT LIKE THE OTHERS and yet we still enjoy spending time together.

I have yet to see anyone scratch someone’s eyes out because they didn’t like to spin with Dorset.  Never seen anyone punch a spinner because they love to spin with a charkha. I have never heard of anyone refusing to speak to someone EVER AGAIN because they prefer a Magicraft over a Hanson, or an Ashford over a Loet.

I really think it’s magic.

Kristin spun this!

And for me, this is the start of the most magical time of the year. Yes, there are more fiber events which is marvelous, and yes, it’s shearing season so there is new fiber in my basement which is wondrous. But the really MAGICAL thing about this time of year is that I start to get ready for the Tour de Fleece.

What is the Tour de Fleece?

If you haven’t been reading my blog for long then you might not know what the Tour is, and you can get a basic run down here.  But what is it REALLY?

Casey spun this from fiber she won!

It’s a whole month of fiber comes first.  It’s months of being able to talk about, show pictures of, complain about, be ecstatic about, and SHARE my love of fiber. Which could be amazing on it’s own, but I get to do all of this in the company of LOTS of people who feel exactly the same way about fiber.

Last year we had 149 people on our Tour de Fleece team, and I admit that I was worried.  So many people, I thought, there is bound to be a rotten egg in there somewhere. Nope.  There must be someone who doesn’t get it, who will not be supportive of others or who will not get along with people or push their own agendas. Nope. There has to be someone who I will wish wasn’t on the team. Double Nope.

They were universally lovely, warm, sharing, giving, supportive and caring.

Like I said. magical.

Helen spun this!

Tour de Fleece 2017

This year I asked the whole team to re-sign up (after three years I like to refresh the list) and I was worried. What if no one came back?  More than half the team from last year signed up for the new list in less than two days. Just wow.

Sometimes, when I am tired and there is still a lot to do, I wonder if it’s really worth it. I don’t get paid to run a team. I do a lot of extra things for the team that other teams don’t do, and it takes a lot of time. So, yes, I do wonder sometimes if it’s a good idea. I mean, it happens in July, and I start working on it in FEBRUARY!

It’s worth it.

Here are some of the comments I got from people from last year’s team:

  • You have revolutionized my wheel spinning for life!! 
  • This was an excellent experience, so much advice and inspiration and sharing, thank you!
  • I would like to thank you all for the support, encouragement and inspiration you provided, it’s been a pleasure to be part of this team. 
  • The Tour de Fleece  has the built in challenge days but this Team has the attitude and sets the constructive, supportive tone.
  • I have gotten to understand my wheel so much more during this Tour and have accessed so many helpful online resources. 
  • This team is super friendly, helpful, and positive. It was nicely varied in experiences and approach and the camaraderie was lovely!
  • I love the social contact with other spinners. It is so lovely to have a group with whom one can be gushingly enthusiastic without their eyes glazing over followed by a sudden change of topic…and I love how engaged the team captain was!
  • I truly enjoy Spinfoolish’s writing style. She is funny, educational and keeps my interest, the daily encouragement was one of my favorite things about the Tour de Fleece.

Anna spun this!

And suddenly, it’s very clear that it’s TOTALLY and COMPLETELY worth it!!

So here we go – three months of planning, scheduling, organizing, and creating – which turns into 23 days of pure bliss.  I am already thinking about NEXT year!

(Are you a spinner? Join us! It’s free, low stress, and a HUGE amount of fun!)

What’s in your knitting bag? Notions bags!

A sometime series on What is in Your Knitting Bag? This one is about Notions Bags

So once you have chosen a knitting bag that matches you and your current project you need to think about what to keep in that bag on a day to day basis.  You need a knitting notions bag.

A Slight Obsession

Obviously, you must have your project in there, but just as no woman is an island, no knitting project can stand alone without those delicious accouterments that make our lives so much more fun and pleasant. And I say a big Alleluia to that!

And, of course all those lovely little toys must be containerized! Or is that just my obsession talking?

It’s true. You don’t ALWAYS need a notions bag – sometimes the knitting bag of choice has a notions bag built in, or a pocket that will work. But often it’s just easier to have a notions bag (or in my case, multiple notions bags…I did mention that this was an obsession, right?) that I can toss in any knitting bag and out the door I go – knowing I have everything I need at my fingertips!

I have notions bags specifically for sock projects, one specially built for sweater sized projects, some specifically for when I travel, and one that is suppose to sit beside my chair at home so I always know where it is.  To be honest, it sometimes ends up going with me anyway.  I get worried I will have forgotten something and I KNOW it’s all in that one!

Many of my notions bags are old makeup bags. I don’t wear makeup, so it’s amazing how many of them I have!!  But they definitely come in handy to corral ALL THE TOOLS!  Some are pretty small, some are kind of big for notions bags – here are some of my personal favorites.

Knitting Notions Bags

I have had the lavender notions bag since I was about 12, no idea where it came from but the long handle on the zipper pull made it so easy to find in my knitting bag that I used it for ages.

The black one has clear sides and top, so I can easily see what I am looking for before I unzip it – but the drawback with this one is that the zipper goes ALL around the top, so the opportunity to spill stuff when it is unzippered is HUGE so I only use this one as a back up.

 

These three are the current favorites.  The one you can see into is supposed to be used for camping but it works fine when NOT camping, too!  This one also has a zipper that goes all the way around, which is not my favorite, but it feels nice and the bright colored bottom (which you can’t see in the picture) makes it easy to find in a knitting bag.

The purple suede one feels good, had a great zipper and is just the right size.  It also has two smaller little side pockets inside that are great for organizing the tools. It came from Walmart years and years ago but has held up really well. I use it a lot!

The orange one is my stay-at-home notions bag because I am always afraid I will lose some of the buttons (the other size has even more!) Honestly, orange is one of my least favorite colors so my love for this one comes as a surprise. It’s older, so the cloth is very soft, I can stick my pins in it without damage to the bag.  The zipper pull is a wraps per inch counter in a lovely wood which I adore, it has a square bottom so it sits up nicely if I want it to, it’s the right size…really, it just works great.

Bottom Line

The bottom line about notions bags for me are:

  • Small enough to not take over the project bag.
  • Big enough to hold all the toys.
  • Bright colors help.
  • Smaller zipper helps.
  • Light interior color or clear top helps.

Show us yours!

Really, in the end it’s all about what works for you.  I always seem to be gifted with old makeup bags, but I am sure there are millions more options.  What are you using?  Do you have a favorite or unique notions bag (or container?)  Share your image in comments or leave it on the Spinfoolish Facebook page.

Click here to learn more about What is in MY knitting bag.

Here are some pictures of Linda’s favorite notions bag! (See her comment below!) Click to see them full size.

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some pictures of Valentina’s favorite notions bag! (see her comment below! Click to see them full size.