If you’ve ever lost count of your knitting stitches or lost your place in your pattern, knitting stitch markers are for you.
These handy little tools, though small, are mighty in your knitting. They’re more useful than you can imagine. Today we’ll talk about what they are, how to use them, and the many ways they can help you knit.
What is a Stitch Marker?
A stitch marker is a knitting tool used to identify an important place in your knitting. You can find them in fixed forms or as locking stitch markers. You can even make your own stitch markers. But we’ll talk about all of this in detail as we work our way through this post. For now, the most important thing to know is how necessary these items are to your knitting.
There are two common types of stitch markers available. They are:
- Ring Stitch Markers
- Locking Stitch Markers
Let's learn more about these knitting notions.
Ring Stitch Markers
This style can be an enclosed form to slip on your needle or have a notched feature to slip onto the yarn itself.
Stitch markers also come in a variety of geometric shapes and colors. The most common are round stitch markers but I’ve also seen them in a variety of shapes. The assortment of colors and styles keeps things interesting and fun.
They also come in a range of sizes to fit your knitting needles, and are made from wood, metal, plastic, and other materials. Just take a look at these gold hexagon stitch markers with matching honey bee from Jennie Santopietro at @alovelyhomemadelife. Cute, right?
Here's another fun set with a little bit of everything. This sun, moon, and stars set has both ring stitch markers and locking stitch markers. Let's talk about the latter a little more.
Locking Stitch Markers
Some locking stitch markers are similar to safety pins. Others have lobster clasps to hook onto your knitting, like the ones shown above. You can slip some styles over the knitting needle but, most commonly, you can attach them to your knitting.
The locking type of marker is the most functional for all of your knitting projects and is my personal favorite. Why? Well, you can reposition them easily if you need to. With round stitch markers, you have to work to that place in your knitting to move them.
Another reason why I love them is, they won't fall off of your knitting. With round markers, if I stop at the beginning of a round, it may drop off when I set my work down. And I may not notice until much later, which means tinking and frustration.
Learn more Knitting Slang here.
This is why, especially when I'm knitting in the round, I like to lock on a stitch marker. The image below shows how I mark the beginning of a round. This is just one way to use stitch markers. Let's talk about some others.
How to Use Stitch Markers
Stitch markers are often kept on the needle but you can also attach them to the knitting itself. In short, they are essential to knitters and must-haves because they are so helpful.
Let’s talk about the different ways they can help you with your knitting.
Knitting in the Round
One way stitch markers can help is when you’re knitting in the round. In circular knitting, knowing where the knitting pattern begins and ends will keep you from making a mistake. So it’s a good idea to use them to mark the beginning of your work.
Learn all about Knitting in the Round.
If you’re knitting flat, they can mark the beginning or end of your row. Or, if you’re adding edge stitches to your knitting, stitch markers can separate the pattern from the knitted border.
You can also use stitch markers to mark the right side (RS) or wrong side (WS) of your knitting, or increases and decreases. Maybe you’ve cast on a lot of stitches, like in the image below. Stitch markers can help you keep count of your stitches.
They can also mark pattern repeats in your knitting, or changes in stitch patterns.
The image above shows how to place a stitch marker in knitting to mark a pattern change.
If you’re learning how to count rows in knitting, you can use stitch markers to help you. Say your knitting pattern calls for a certain number of row repeats. You could place a stitch marker every 5 or 10 rows. Then, you’ll only need to count the markers as you work instead of counting each and every row.
Dropped a stitch? You can use a stitch marker to hold it in place until you can fix your knitting mistake. This will keep the dropped stitch from unraveling any further and doing more damage.
One final way you can use a stitch marker is to mark where you’d need to slip a stitch. Sometimes, you would do this for edge stitches or within the pattern itself.
Read More on The Art of Slip Stitch Knitting
Speaking of place markers in knitting, let’s talk about how you might find them written in knitting patterns.
Knitting Abbreviations Explained
Understanding knitting abbreviations can seem like reading a foreign language. In reality, though, these knitting terms really are simple. Here's what you need to know about stitch markers in knitting patterns.
Place Marker (pm)
Some knitting patterns will say place marker in the knitting instructions, or write it as “pm”. What does this mean exactly? Well, when the pattern calls for this, you’d simply place a stitch marker on the right needle after the last worked stitch.
As you continue to knit, you will come across this marker on every row or round thereafter. When you come back around to it, move or slip the marker from the left to right needle.
Slip Marker (sm)
This brings us to the knitting term “sm”, which is the abbreviation for slip marker. Once you’ve worked your marker into the pattern, you may encounter knitting instructions like this:
K to marker, sm, m1, k to next marker, m1, sm, knit across.
Now, you may be asking: What does it mean to slip marker?
Here you will move, or slip, the stitch marker from the left-hand needle to the right-hand needle. Then you would continue on with the pattern.
To translate the above pattern, you would:
Knit to the marker, slip marker, make one (increase), knit to next marker, make one (increase), slip marker, then knit across to end.
Learn More on How to Read a Knitting Pattern
From the images we’ve shared so far, you can see there’s a huge variety of stitch markers you can purchase.
But, if you don’t like what’s available on the market, why not make your own DIY stitch markers?
DIY Stitch Markers
If you’re a general crafter like I am, you probably have all the knitting supplies you need for handmade stitch markers. Personally, I love the feeling of accomplishment when I can make something cute AND useful. Like these adorable mini-skein stitch markers. Find out how to make your own here.
Want more ideas on what you can use for a stitch marker?
Check out our Knitting Hacks.
Whatever you decide to do, buy or diy, just be sure to keep them in a stitch marker case or container. Also, since they are quite small, and easily lost, you should also keep plenty on hand. You never know when you may need more.
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