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.

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