Tag Archives: stitch markers

Marking Stitches

So, I sat down to write this post about an hour ago.  Then I decided to check Facebook, where I discovered that someone had posted videos of the Crufts dog show from last weekend.  Needless to say,  I got rather distracted watching the agility trials, and an hour later, I’m just getting started writing.  So it goes.

(This has nothing to do with knitting, or this blog, but you have to watch this video- It’s amazing!)

Right?!

Now you’ll be sucked down a dog show YouTube rabbit hole, and I’m not even a bit sorry.

Aaaaaanyway, let’s talk stitch markers.

I’m taking a metalworking/jewelry class at the local community college, where I’m learning jewelry soldering.  I made some rings, earrings, and even a little box.  I’m halfway through a necklace that’s made of lots of pieces of sea glass set in silver.  It’s so fun to learn a new skill!

But, I think my favorite pieces (or at least the pieces I’m getting the most use out of) are my little stitch markers.  (My teacher was confused as to why I was making so many little jump rings, and wanted me to turn them into a chain.  I tried to explain what a stitch marker was, but she remains unconvinced.  She is clearly not a knitter.)

(Also, this picture turned out pretty cool- It looks like my stitch markers are just floating in spaaaaace!)

They’re square copper wire, plated with silver and twisted to make the cool spiral design.  Then, I formed them into little circles using a special jig and a tiny saw, and soldered them shut.  Super simple, especially compared to some of the projects people are making in my class, but really satisfying and oh so practical.

I like these little guys because they’re seamless (and therefore can’t snag), they’re low-profile (so they don’t get in the way), and they don’t have any charms or beads on them (which, while pretty, can get annoying if you’re making a project where you need dozens of stitch markers).

I’ve got one class left before the end of the quarter, and I’m half-inclined to just spend the three hours making more stitch markers, instead of finishing my big final project.

Do you have favorite stitch markers?

Shrinky Dinks!

Every year for Christmas, my mom and I do a craft together (don’t judge- Christmas Crafts are the best).  One year we got a bunch of teeny MochiMochi Land patterns and spent Christmas week knitting up an army of little dudes.  Another year we broke out all of Mom’s papercrafting things and made dozens of little notebooks.

This year, Mom got a big pack of Shrinky Dinks!sq-bright-bulkI love Shrinky Dinks.  They’re so easy to do, and always delightful (I use them with one of the kids’ classes I teach- they’re always a hit).

If you haven’t played with them before, Shrinky Dinks are sheets of plastic that you draw/color on/stamp/decorate, then cut out, and put in the oven.  As they bake, they get all wiggly, and when they settle down, they’ve shrunk to about half their original size.

It’s fun!  (Despite the boring way I’ve explained it.)

Anyway, this year, a pile of pristine Shrinky Dink material and a box of my mom’s fancy art pens in front of me, I tried to come up with a project that would end up being useful- after all, most things made with Shrinky Dinks are pretty silly- lots of ornaments and pendants.

Because I’m a knitter, my mind jumped to stitch markers!

I cut out a stitch marker (a circle about 2 inches in diameter, and about a quarter-inch wide, decorated it, and popped it in the toaster oven.  And would you believe, it worked!

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the afternoon manufacturing as many stitch markers as I could.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow, they ended up a little large- the smallest one could probably fit on a US13, but I bet you could totally come up with the dimensions for tinier stitch markers.   I should probably go get some more Dink material, and start experimenting some more.  For science.  Yeah…

I’m definitely not just looking for an excuse to play with Shrinky Dinks.

Have you ever made your own stitch markers?  What did you use?

On the Road Again

It’s summer, and that means it’s time for road trips! It’s time to get the heck out of Dodge and take to the open road with nothing but a couple bucks, your faithful hound dog, and a skein or two of your favorite yarn.

(Or, if your boring, like me, it’s time to walk over to your local park and sit in the grass with a can of coke and a skein or two of your favorite yarn.)

I usually have a travel kit set up, but I make a point to restock and update it at the beginning of the summer. That way, I can just grab my project bag and head out the door on a whim.

So what do I keep in my travel kit?

I keep a little tool kit at all times in a tiny zippered coin pouch. It includes scissors, a handful of stitch markers, a couple yarn needles, a couple cable needles, and a few tiny stitch holders.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, I can throw my tool kit in whatever project I’m working on. In the summertime, I favor lacy shawls, socks and other small projects (call me crazy, but I’m not into having a big old sweater or blanket on my lap in 80 degree weather.  And yes, I know, I’ve become a total hot-weather weenie when I think that 80 is hot).

I have a stash of several kinds of sock yarn, a bunch of sets of sock-sized dpns, and a couple favorite project bags. When I need an emergency project for the road, I’ll grab a bag, throw in my tool kit, a set of needles and a ball or two of sock yarn (an adult pair of socks takes up about 100 grams of wool), and I’m out the door!  If you like knitting from patterns, think about printing out copies of your favorites, so you can have them ready to tuck into your project bag at a moment’s notice.

How do you take your projects with you when traveling?

Lace-Edged Shawl

Well, now you have this pile of beautiful stitch markers, what to do with them?  How about making a really cool lacey shawl?  I realize the “shawl” word is kind of old-lady-y, but whatever.  They’re basically just triangular scarves, so what’s not to like?

I’m using Blue Moon Marine Silk Worsted yarn , but you can use whatever you want.  I think this shawl looks best in a heavy, drapey yarn, but feel free to use whatever you want.  I am always prepared to be wrong. My shawl is quite small, just big enough to go around my neck and tuck into the collar of my coat.  If you want a bigger shawl, repeat rows 2 and 3 of the shawl body until you have 200, 224, or 248 stitches, and increase the number of times you work the lace pattern.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Materials:

1 skein Blue Moon Marine Silk Worsted (243 yards) or whatever the heck you feel like using.

Size 8 needles (or so.  It’s not like a sweater or something, so there is plenty of leeway regarding gauge)

4 stitch markers

Scissors, tapestry needle

Abbreviations:

k3tog-knit three together

pm-place marker

yo-yarn over

Instructions:

Make the body of the shawl:

CO. 8

  1. k2, pm, k1, place marker, k2, pm, k1, place marker, k2
  2. k2, *pm, yo, k to next marker, yo, pm, k2, repeat from *
  3. k2, *pm, purl to next marker, pm, k2, repeat from *

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until you have 176 stitches on your needles, finishing with row 3

Begin lace pattern:

  1. k2, *pm, yo, (k1, yo, k4, k3tog, k4, yo) 7 times, k1, yo, pm, k2.  Repeat from *
  2. k2, *pm, purl to next marker, pm, k2.  Repeat from *
  3. k2, *pm, yo, k1 (k2, yo, k3, k3tog, k3, yo, k1) 7 times, k2, yo, pm, k2.  Repeat from *
  4. k2, *pm, purl to next marker, pm, k2.  Repeat from *
  5. k2, *pm, yo, k2 (k3, yo, k2, k3tog, k2, yo, k2) 7 times, k3, yo, pm, k2.  Repeat from *
  6. k2, *pm, purl to next marker, pm, k2.  Repeat from *
  7. k2, *pm, yo, k3 (k4, yo, k1, k3tog, k1, yo, k3) 7 times, k4, yo, pm, k2.  Repeat from *
  8. k2, *pm, purl to next marker, pm, k2.  Repeat from *
  9. k2, *pm, yo, k4 (k5, yo, k3tog, yo, k4) 7 times, k5, yo, pm, k2.  Repeat from *
  10. k2, *pm, purl to next marker, pm, k2.  Repeat from *
  11. k2, *pm, yo, k4 (k3tog, k4, yo, k1, yo, k4) 7 times, k3tog, k4, yo, pm, k2.  Repeat from *
  12. k2, *pm, purl to next marker, pm, k2.  Repeat from *OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Repeat rows 11 and 12 until you’re bored, you run out of yarn, or both.  I repeated them 6 times for my shawl.

When you’re finished, bind off loosely, removing the stitch markers as you go.  If you feel so inclined, block your shawl by soaking it in warm water, and pinning it out flat to dry.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Get the PDF here: Lace-Edged Shawl

Edit:  Originally, I had included LLD and RLD in the Abbreviations list.  This was a mistake-there was never any LLD or RLD’s in the pattern. I have removed them from the abbreviations list.  Happy knitting!

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

Materials:

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)

Instructions:

  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.

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):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  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?