Monthly Archives: February 2013

Knitting Bling

I have been known to use the poor man’s stitch markers (loops of scrap yarn, twist-ties, I even used my wedding ring once when I was stuck without stitch markers.  That was dumb, but it worked in a pinch.).  But I love my pretty stitch markers, and I like making stitch markers, too.  It’s like making jewelry for your knitting needles, which is pretty swell.  This is just one way to make stitch markers, feel free to play around with it and make it your own.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Headpins- 1 per stitch marker, plus a couple for when you mess up.  I’m using 2 inch long ones, but my beads are tiny.  If you plan on using really big beads or using lots of beads, be sure to get longer head pins.

A few pretty beads-as many or as few as you like for each marker.  Having some markers with different colors/shapes can be helpful with your knitting.  Make sure the holes in the beads are small enough that they won’t fall off the headpin.

Needle nose pliers

1 metal knitting needle a size or two larger than the needles you want to  use the markers on (for example, if I want to use these stitch markers on size 8 needles, I will use a size 10 needle for this project)

Wire cutters (or crappy scissors that you don’t mind messing up when you trim the pins)


  1.  Take a headpin and thread on a couple beads in a pleasing pattern.  Make sure that you have at least 1.5 inches of non-beaded pin, or the rest of this won’t work.
  2. Using the pliers, bend the pin into a 90 degree angle just above the beads.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  3. Wrap the wire around the knitting needle, making a circle.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  4. Wrap the end of the wire a couple times around the pin, just above the beads.  You will probably want to use the pliers for this, unless you have crazy monkey hands.
  5. Slip the stitch marker off the needle, and trim any extra wire from the marker.  Using the pliers, make sure that the end of the wire is tucked neatly away (poky bits of wire can cause snags in your knitting).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  6. Make a bunch more.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  7. Profit.

Stitch Markers

Stitch markers are pretty neat little tools.  You might not use them for every project, or maybe you’ll just use one or two, but it’s really handy to have a handful in your knitting kit.  They’re super easy to use, they make complicated patterns (like lace) way easier to manage, PLUS you can get really pretty ones that look like jewelry for your knitting.  Win/win/win.

First off… what are they exactly?  They’re nothing more than a little loop that fits over your needle, between your stitches.  You know when kids learn to read (or when you’re really tired and trying to finish reading something before bed), and they use their finger to point at the words they are reading so that they know where they are?  That’s what stitch markers do.

They come in a bunch of sizes, and about a million styles.   If you’re super poor, or stuck somewhere where you don’t have access to a knitting store (poor you!), you can improvise, using little loops of yarn, twist-ties, or even soda can tabs, if your needles are small enough.

Mid-range stitch markers are usually made of plastic, and can be purchased for a couple bucks from any big box store with a knitting section.  They also come in these fantastic tiny little containers. (Don’t look at me like that.  I know you like tiny containers, too.)80593

If you’re looking for something with a little more flare, you can go to your local yarn store, or onto Etsy to buy some really beautiful markers.  I really like these, if anyone wanted to get me an early Christmas present…

But, no matter what kind of stitch marker you have, they all work the same way.  As you’re knitting along and you want to mark a specific stitch (your pattern may say “PM” or “place marker”, or you may want to mark the beginning of a particularly tricky pattern repeat), you’ll take the stitch marker and place it on your right-hand needle. You’ll then continue knitting, as if nothing happened.  Don’t stitch into the stitch marker.  No yarn should ever go into the marker, or wrap around it or anything.  On your next row, you’ll knit up to the stitch marker, at which point you’ll think “Ah ha!  This is the point that I have to do something important!”  To keep on knitting, you’ll then move the marker from the left needle to the right needle, and keep on knitting.  Easy peasy.

Inspiration: Downton Abbey

I hate Downton Abbey.  Also, I love Downton Abbey.  It’s so awful and so great.  I know you guys are totally into it too.  It’s such a soap opera, but they have fancy British accents and it’s on PBS, so it makes you think that you’re watching something smart.  And then you get all attached to the characters, and then BAM! Spanish flu.  BAM! Eclampsia.  BAM! Car accident.  It messes with my brain.

The one real problem I have with the show, however, is its lack of hand knits.  For real!  The costumes are all so gorgeous and richly textured and (one assumes) historically accurate.  How can there be no knitting?   Maybe knitting was out of vogue with the richie-rich of the early 20th century.


Even if the Grantham sisters don’t really wear any knitting, you can still make some Downton-inspired knitting projects:

Aeolian Shawl by Elizabeth Freeman

Annis by Susanna IC

Old Town by Carol Sunday

Fat Quarter Project Bag

Now that you know the important parts of your knitting kit, you might want to put one together for yourself.  Here’s a quick and easy pattern for a sewn project bag that you can put together in an afternoon or less.  I’ve used a sewing machine, but you could totally sew it by hand, if you don’t have access to a machine.  I’ve also used eyelets and an eyelet setter to make the holes for my draw string.  It’s not a terribly expensive tool, and I’ve used mine more than I ever expected to.  But, if you don’t want to invest in an eyelet setter, you can use your sewing machine to stitch button holes to thread your ribbon through.


2 fat quarters in coordinating colors (available at fabric and quilting stores)

Coordinating thread

Sewing machine (or needle and thread if you like to kick it old school)

Eyelet setter

8 1/4 inch eyelets (8 fronts and 8 backs)



Iron (optional)

1 yard of ribbon or cord

  1. Iron the fat quarters and cut 3 inches off the long edge of each piece of fabric, and trim off the selvage edge.  Discard the small pieces, or use them to make tiny quilts for mice or something.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  2. Lay out the fat quarters, right sides in, and sew them along one long edge with a ½ inch seam allowance.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  3. Fold the fabric in half long ways (like a hot dog as my elementary art teacher said) and pin along the outside edge.  You’ll have your lining fabric pinned to itself, and your outside fabric pinned to itself.  Sew around the edge, leaving a ½ inch seam allowance.   Leave a  3 inch gap on the lining end.  You’ll need this gap to turn the project inside-out.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  4. Clip the corners, and turn the bag right-side out.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  5. Press the opening  so that the edges of the opening are flush with the seam on either side.  Stitch the opening closed.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  6. Push the lining into the bag and press the whole thing, making it as neat as possible.  Make sure the seam between the lining and the outside fabric is even (this is the very top edge of the bag’s opening.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  7. Measure 2.5 inches from the top edge of the bag.  Evenly mark 4 points across this line on the front of the bag (front or back doesn’t really matter, but just put 4 points on one side… we’ll put the others on there later).  These points will be where you put in the grommets.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  8. Using the instructions that came with your eyelets, install the 4 eyelets on the front of the bag.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  9. Lay the bag flat, and mark where your eyelets fall on the back of the bag (just poke your pencil through the front of the bag).  This makes sure that your eyelets are evenly spaced around the whole bag.  Install the remaining 4 eyelets.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  10. Weave the ribbon through the grommets.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Done!  Now go fill it with knitting or other projects.  This bag is a good size for small to medium projects (1 or 2 skeins).  If you want a bigger project bag, start with bigger pieces of fabric, but use the same technique.    Because the bag is double-layered, even the pointiest needles won’t poke through, and it’s strong enough to keep your delicate yarn nice and clean and protected.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What’s in your bag?

What’s in your bag?

I don’t know about you, but I love seeing what other people have in their purses.  Maybe it’s just me being a weirdo, but there’s always something interesting in there.  Of course, you always have the usual; keys, wallet, cell phone, spare change, wadded up receipts, random old pens (I have one old purse that I just found that had, I kid you not, 10 pens in it.  What was I thinking?).  But there is always something weird in there, too.  Maybe it’s an old notepad with some cryptic notes scribbled on it, or maybe a tiny plastic hippopotamus that someone got out of one of those 25 cent vending machines at the grocery store, or maybe a single big hoop earring that got left in there after you lost the other one at a new year’s party.  Who knows?

Anyway, to satisfy my voyeurism, let’s talk about what you carry around in your knitting bag.   Here’s what I have in my bag (I suppose it’s exhibitionism, not voyeurism, but still):


  1. Knitting (duh.)
  2. A pen.  Always useful!
  3. My knitting toolkit.  This is a little wallet-y pouch thing that I received in a swap years ago.  I’ve got a couple of these little kits rattling around my knitting things.  It’s great to have one of these always loaded up with useful little bits and bobs so that you don’t have to go running around looking for a needle or scissors.  So, what’s in mine?
    1. Stitch markers-several kinds, several sizes for all your stitch marking needs.
    2. Scissors-I like these because they are tiny and pretty.  I think I got them at JoAnn’s years ago for a couple bucks.  They make me feel all fancy-like.
    3. Tapestry needles- organized on the plastic dealy that they came on, so they aren’t just rolling around loose and getting lost.
    4. Diaper pins-I actually got these in a swap, too, and had no idea why someone would send them to me.  It seemed dumb.  But, I use them all the time.  You can use them to mark the beginning of a row when a stitch marker won’t work.  You can use them to pin two pieces of knitting together when you’re seaming it.  You can use them to organize buttons or stitch markers when are afraid you’re going to lose them before you get home.  Also, they’re better than just using safety pins, since they don’t have as many jagged metal bits to cause snags.
    5. A cable needle- Never leave home without it.  Easy to loose, not used a lot, but essential when you need to find it.
    6. Buttons that I took off of a sweater when I frogged it months ago.  I should put them away…

So, I showed you mine.  You show me yours.  What’s in your knitting bag?

Hello World!

Starting blogs is always awkward.  It’s like trying to break the ice at a party, but instead of just one person looking at you, the whole internet is watching.  It’s very weird, and there is a lot of pressure to say something witty.

Well, I don’t have much witty to say, so I suppose I’ll just share my vision of what this blog will become.  (And I can always edit this post later if I come up with some fantastic introductory post and I want to rewrite history.  Yay computers!)

On The Needles is going to be a resource for new and intermediate knitters looking for a friend to hang out with and talk knitting.  I will be posting original patterns, tutorials, and inspiration.  I love everything about knitting, and want to share my enthusiasm for such a fantastic hobby.

My mom taught me how to knit when I was just a kid, and I have pretty much consistently had at least one project on my needles for the last 15 years.  I mostly knit garments (I love making sweaters and shawls), but I have done some other weird projects, too (I knit an anatomically correct worm model when I worked in a biology lab for a couple years).  I enjoy designing my own patterns, and dying and spinning my own yarn, because I am a little bit of a control freak.

So, I’d love to hear from you, readers!  Let me know what you want to see, what projects you want to make, and what questions you are itching to have answered.

And, before I start rambling on too long, I will leave you with this little guy to brighten your day:


Keep on knitting!