Monday, November 27, 2017

Stitch Markers

I don't use stitch markers a lot for sock knitting - although sometimes I will use one on either side of my magic loop, as "handles" to use for yanking the loop out again if it sucks into my knitting - but I have come to realize that I have some pretty distinct preferences for those that I DO use.

...and here they are:

1. I prefer small, lightweight markers. To mark my place in shawls, I typically use those cheap 200-in-a-box gold or silver rings. I prefer metal because they slide better than plastic. I carry them in a breathmints box. They are great for bulk use in lace, and big enough to use on 4mm needles when I knit the odd sweater.

2.  I like beaded ones, too - but here's where I get picky. The markers must be made of wire or "tiger tail", and must only have 1 large bead - no bigger than 1/4" -  on them and at the most 2 small ones, and the loop can't be any bigger than 1/2" (approx. 1 cm). I've made a bunch of my own, and have found that over time, my hand reaches for those that fulfill these characteristics, and I never use the others. 

3. The marker may not use a jump ring, under any circumstances. 

4.  The marker may not use one of those wire posts that thread so easily through beads, because this forces the marker-maker to then use loops of wire to get the dangly creation onto a ring of some kind, thereby violating rule #3.

You can make your own bead markers. It's not hard. Here's how:

You need some tools: a set of fine wire cutters (I use them for my guitar strings too!) - I like the Fiskars ones - and a set of fine needlenose pliers that come together with a flat edge (crimpers) - ie. not the completely round ones. 

You need some materials: "tigertail" (beading wire that's flexible), crimping beads, and focal beads (I prefer mine to be no bigger than 1/4" in diameter, and completely smooth). 

You can get most of this stuff at Michael's. 

[materials, top left clockwise: crimping pliers, fine wire cutters, 
"tiger tail" beading wire, crimping beads, and small focal beads]

To make a marker, cut a piece of the tigertail that's about 3-4" long and double it. Thread it through your focal bead and then through a crimping bead. Then use the crimping pliers to flatten the crimping bead, and the cutters to trim the tigertail. That's it!

[thread the doubled tigertail through the beads]

[a few completed markers, done to my own exacting specifications]

It turns out I'm ridiculously sensitive to both the size of the loop, and the size of the bead on the marker. Really. In the picture below, the markers on the top are too big, and I find I never, ever use them. See how small the differences are???

[top: markers I hate - too big, or too catchy]
[bottom: marker I like]

Most of my knitting circle buddies do other crafts as well, and some of them, like me, do the odd bit of beading. So we have periodic "marker making sessions" where we pool our kit and have fun making a bunch. Everyone goes home with half a dozen new stitch markers!


  1. I am so picky about my stitch markers too. They're just as important as choosing the right needles. I am not a fan of the jump ring with one bead. I much prefer the wire style like yours. The wire glides so easily and doesn't take up extra space between the stitches. Which is especially important when knitting with fingering weight. I love the idea of sitting with a group of knitting friends and making and swapping stitch markers.

  2. I have a number of *cute* stitch markers, but I find myself reaching for the simple rings most of the time.