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.)
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.