The fascinating lives of stitch markers -- Part II


Last we met, we were discussing my stitch marker collection. Here they are again:

While I have plenty of uses for the split and locking stitch markers, they don't do much of the heavy lifting here at Chez Marnie. I have to say, though, the feedback I got from the previous post was interesting. It appears that most people fall into one of a few disticnt groups.

There are the people who are most concerned with aesthetics. Having something cute or sparkly brings a smile to the knitter's face. While others are economical and practical. Using bits of string, hair elastics or a cut up straw means never worrying about lost markers or spending too much. Finally, there are people like I am. So without further ado, go ahead and read a bit more about the madness to my method, after the bump.

One of the big reasons that I don't use the split and locking ring markers for standard stitch marking is because it slows me down to move them out of the way as I knit across the row. Unfortunately, this is also what holds me back from using my most beautiful stitch markers. I would consider myself as much a process as product knitter, but I'm also highly concerned with efficiency and anything that slows me down frustrates me. But the fact is, these are lovely and functional stitch markers. I use these when I want a distinctive way to mark the beginning and end of a round in circular knitting. When working a complex pattern with many markers for different purposes, it's good to give the end of round marker a noticeably different appearance. This is perfect and a great way to remember to change your row counter.

That leaves 4 remaining stitch markers.

susanbates.jpgFrom left to right, we have the Bryson, Clover Soft, the standard Clover, and Susan Bates. Notice the difference in thickness. Despite my previous experiences with crushing my Suzan Bates' stitch markers, they are the thinnest of the bunch. I find this particularly important when working at a small gauge. When the stitch marker is significantly thicker than the yarn itself, it can become cumbersome and I worry that it can lead to ladders. Susan Bates' markers also come in much smaller sizes than all other (save the Bryson, which do come at smaller diameters though not smaller thicknesses). Again, this is important for small gauge knitting, such as socks, gloves and fine weight lace. If I could simply buy these markers in the smallest size available, I'd be content.

cloverring.jpgIf I'm working a little larger, I can substitute my Susan Bates with the standard Clover stitch marker. They are nearly as thin and much stronger. Having owned these for several years, I've yet to break one, though, admittedly, I haven't tried in earnest to do so. Added to their sturdiness, these also slide easily between needles. While I'm fond of the flexible variety, there are some cases where the grippy nature of the flexible rings impedes the progress of knitting. In those cases, the standard Clover rings are perfect. On the other hand, if I'm working on something that requires a lot of tricky needle work, such as cables without a cable needle or complex increases and decreases, my grip gets a little tighter and these guys can really dig into my fingers. I've been known to swap these out simply because they hurt my hands.

But the stitch markers I use most are my flexible ones. For a while, it's been the black Bryson variety only. They don't tend to fly off the needles unexpectedly and they can't be crushed. In fact, squeeze them all you like, they are mighty flexible.

sbs.jpgI love these and go to them first when picking a stitch marker, but they have two distinct disadvantages. The first, I've mentioned, they are thick. This won't matter for worsted weight knitting, but when you are dealing with a finer gauge, knit fairly tightly, they are problematic. Additionally, they only come in one color. While I will admit to occasionally choosing my stitch markers for their coordinating properties with the project at hand, that's never a strong driving force. No, for me, having more than one color can be important when knitting a very complex piece. For instance, with my lace shawl, I use clover markers to indicate the various pattern repeats, but I use my Brysons to indicate that I've reached the center of the shawl and need to work an increase. In this way, the color warns me that a particular action must be made.

purple.jpgSo that leaves the Clover Soft. These come closest to being the perfect stitch marker. They are flexible, so they won't break. They are gentle on your hands, they come in many sizes and two colors and are relatively thin.

But, in case you haven't noticed, I'm rather picky and despite their laundry list of great features, I consider them a second choice to my Brysons, for general feel. They are indeed flexible but more stiff than the Brysons. I tend to futz with things a lot and I find that the more I futz with these, the less likely they are to spring back to their original ring like shape. While they technically hold up to my worst punishment...

Using them as stoppers at the end of needles, they aren't half as flexible and resilient as the Brysons. Those unassuming black rings can stretch out and hold 4 or 5 small DPNs together in my knitting bag, or keep my tape measure in order, while the Clovers put up more resistance.

In conclusion, no single stitch marker suits all my needs, though I obviously favor some over others. Take my opinion for what it is: the insane rantings of a reclusive knitter. I love reading everyone else's thoughts, so if you haven't chimed in on your favorite stitch marker, do let me know.


Marnie, I am using a new one that you don't seem to have, which I quite like - and I am also known in these parts as the queen of stitch markers :o)

I don't have a blog, but can take a picture of them and send them to you - would you like that?
snowed in in manhattan,

Orthodontic elastics now come in bright neon colors. I use them as stitch markers - they're small, flexible, easy to see.

I'm picky about my stitch markers, too, and most often use the Clover locking ring (orange) ones. I never have trouble sliding those from needle to needle, and like the option of detaching them if I need to. I've only tried those flexible ones (can't remember which brand they were) once, and had problems transfering them--they tended to stretch and fly across the room like rubber bands if I wasn't careful (grin). I love your analysis, though! And maybe I'll give them another try....

you're funny! once upon a time I was at sea for a month and I forgot to take stitch markers with me. I got one of the engineers to fetch some spare o-rings from the engine room. they were a little slow but you never have to worry about them breaking!

overall I'm not too picky about my stitch markers. I have a bunch that I've made myself, but I haven't tried too many store bought ones...just the super cheap Bates ones.

I honestly prefer the little flat Susan Bates markers for most applications. Having said that, on my current piece of knitting I'm using fancy beaded markers to remind me where my raglan increases come, and a combination of Susan Bates, Bryson, and some unremembered-name rings that look like Brysons, but which are white.
When I'm knitting lace on fine needles, I like to use little split-ring markers (like little tiny keyholder rings). They're less likely to cause ladders. I don't have much trouble with them jumping off, but you do need to take a little more care moving them from needle to needle.
Fun stuff.

The normal Clover ring markers in the larger size are thinner than the smaller ones. I don't understand this, but there you have it. I will sometimes use the smaller of the larger variety for worsted weight because it's thinner.

Also, since I work at a yarn shop and sometimes wind up vacuuming, I find LOTS of stitch markers. ~_^

(I have to admit that I LOVE the new Clover soft ring markers. Flexible and AWESOME colors.)

I hadn't ever used stitch-markers until I picked up knitting again a year or so ago, and got into the whole blogging thing at the same time. In general they all drive me nuts - I much prefer to count as I go than have to keep shifting them round. Having said which, on the odd occasion I do use them I've found beaded ones easier - partly the "oooh pretty" factor, and partly because they stay put. The split ring ones I have have a tendency to wander off where they want...

Any post where stitch markers talk is obviously great. I was lucky enough to have a secret pal who made me beaded stitch markers with bryson markers instead of split rings.
I need to find some of those clover soft ones!

I still haven't bought any, although I keep meaning to. For now, I am still using cut bits of drinking straw and scraps of yarn. I never wuld have thought about using stitch markers as stoppers. Love that!

I'm like Tisra--never used a stitch marker in my life. Just little yarn loops. Maybe it's the thriftiness or laziness in me! I am, however, pretty good at memorizing patterns so at some point I drop them altogether.

i use o rings and THIN rust coloured washers (probably asbestos so i shouldn't use them-this would make my husband happy as a clam since my knitting box is full of his stuff. sort of. now. oh. i ought to mention his fishing tackle. ALL kinds of do dads in there to mark stitches with.)

For really fine work, try some small jump rings. I don't know the mm size, but KnitPicks sells gold-colored ones in packs of 100. These are great for socks. The small rubber bands for orthodontia, while in lots of colors, tend to catch on the yarn or the needles. Just IMO>

Neat, my stitchmarker has been "Reviewed." It's famous! :D Awww, look at it out in the world, making it's way. How come it never writes home anymore?

I have lots of markers too, many that you have, but I love "Knitting Needle Jewels" stitch markers, they are easily moved from one needle to the next, come in different sizes, they're light in weight, and they look nice, if you want to check them out they're on this page
I'm planning on getting the Heart Charms too, just because they're beautiful.

Not that I don't find the rest of your content facinating, but where is Panda pictures? I miss the Panda dog...*sniff*

i agree with betsy- talking stitch markers make my day!
am going to be taking part in an upcoming exchange, and i was looking for pros and cons of yr basic handcrafted stitch markers. i'm not really one for bangly dangly things; thanks for taking the time to talk about this on your blog!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Marnie published on February 12, 2006 4:42 PM.

Have you ever had a stitch marker break? was the previous entry in this blog.

Happy Cruddy Photo Day to Me is the next entry in this blog.

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