Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Knitting Tool Profiles: The Stitch Marker

This is the fourth post in a year-long series1. I'll post a new one on the last Tuesday of every month, with facts, photos, and further resources about twelve knitting tools.

[Markers] can let you know how far you have come and how far you have yet to go. They can make you aware of the passing stitches and keep you on the straight and narrow road to rich and lovely pattern stitches.
I use lots of markers; horizontal markers, vertical markers, row counters, and "idiot tags". Some are absolutely vital to achieving a will-fitting garment. Some are simply helpers and reminders of where I am. I would rather speed along the highway of stitches with gentle reminders of where I am  than to have to plod along counting every stitch/step I make.

-Maggie Righetti, Knitting in Plain English

A selection of stitch markers
From top to bottom, left to right: locking stitch markers from RebeccasRoom, glass bead owls from winemakerssister, Jane Austen markers from knitgirlinidaho, Harry Potter themed markers from winemakerssister, breakfast! from Nadia Majid, Dr Who markers from SeeJayneKnit, adorable beer and pretzel markers from Lavender Hill Knits, a selection of different sized ring markers and Clover split stitch markers.

What is it?
A stitch marker is a small tool that helps you keep track of where you are in a pattern. There are several types, including ring, split, locking, and row.

Fun Facts
  • A great tip from June Hemmons Hiatt: using ring markers on a CO row can distort the stitches. Instead, use lengths of yarn; if knitting in the round this gives the added benefit of clearly showing if your stitches are twisted.
  • Low-tech stitch marker options include bread bag tags, paper clips, safety pins.
  • Because stitch markers are so small and, as Montse Stanley says, indispensable to trouble-free knitting, they make great gifts.
  • With the explosion of knitting we have stitch markers available to us for nearly any interest and fandom.
  • Maggie Righetti notes "you need to work in a horizontal thread marker in the middle of a piece any time you bind off or begin to shape the edges." These markers make it easy to measure the length of your knitting from any given point.
  • Righetti suggests using heavy crochet cotton for your horizontal markers; they don't distort the stitches and are less likely to leave flecks of contrasting colour in your piece.
Further Reading
The Principles of Knitting, by June Hemmons Hiatt
Knitter's Handbook, by Montse Stanley
Knitting in Plain English, by Maggie Righetti

Lavender Hill Knits
1 Read the others here.

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