What is a Stitch Marker?

What is a stitch marker? How are they used for when knitting or crocheting? This is an excellent question that can confuse a new knitter or crocheter. Many patterns call for the use of stitch markers and a trip to your local yarn store or craft shop will show you a wide array of options. There are a number of different types of stitch markers available to you. As well, they can be used in a variety of different ways.

What is a stitch marker?

Quite simply, a stitch marker is an item used to mark a stitch or place in your knitting or crochet. Stitch markers can be hand made, store bought or I have even used scraps of yarn or a hair elastic in a pinch. They can be a solid ring, removable, locking, hanging, snug or any other number of varieties.

Why is a stitch marker used?

Marking a certain number of stitches

Stitch markers are used to signify a place in your knitting or crochet. They can be used to mark a certain amount of stitches; this is an excellent “knitting hack” if you are working long counts of stitches.

If you are working a row of 100 stitches, for example, you can easily place a stitch marker every 2o stitches. This way you can easily keep count and recognize any errors in stitch count quickly and more easily.

Mark the beginning of a round

Stitch markers can also be used to mark the beginning of a round when knitting or crocheting in a circular method.

When knitting or crocheting in the round, it can be difficult to tell where a new round begins. Adding a stitch marker at this point allows you to easily identify this point in your project.

Marking a place of importance

Another use of stitch markers is to signify a place to create a particular stitch or instruction. For example, you can place a stitch marker immediately before an increase or decrease to provide yourself a visual cue to complete that part of the pattern.

How is a stitch marker identified in a pattern?

PM is the abbreviation for “place marker”. You would knit or crochet up to this point in the pattern, add the stitch marker and then continue in the established pattern.

Sometimes you may also see the abbreviation SM. This stands for “slip marker”. Knit or crochet to the point in the pattern where SM is written, physically move the stitch marker from one needle to the other and continue in the established pattern.

What types of stitch markers are available?

From the millions of stitch markers available on the market, they basically boil down into two different types: solid and removable.

A solid stitch marker is a solid ring that fits directly onto the knitting needle to mark a designated place.

A removable stitch marker is a hook or locking ring that can be used either directly on a knitting needle or can be used within knitted or crocheted fabric to indicate a specific place.

What does a solid stitch marker look like?

To explain better, here are three types of solid stitch markers:

Clover Soft Stitch Ring Markers

The Clover Soft Stitch Ring Markers are flexible nylon rings that come in two sizes.

The small markers will fit on knitting needles from a range of US 0 – 5 (2.0 – 3.75 mm) and the large markers will fit on knitting needles from a range of US 5 – 11 (3.75 – 8.0 mm).

They are effective, do what they are designed to do and are cheap enough that you won’t feel bad if you lose them at the bottom of your knitting bag.

Black Currant Droplet Stitch MarkersThen there are more fancy varieties of solid stitch markers, such as the ones made right here by Crimson Orchid; Droplet Stitch Markers.

There are six sizes available to meet a wide range of knitting needle sizes, from Mini to Extra Large.

They are hand-made out of silver wire, crystals, gemstones or glass and fit snuggly onto your needles.

Fiddlehead Stitch MarkersAnother version of solid stitch markers are ones that dangle down. They can be made of a solid ring or even a loop from laminated wire or plastic.

The concept is the same as the stitch markers above, except that they are usually decorative and hang down onto your work. One example are these Fiddlehead Stitch Markers.

Solid stitch markers slide directly onto your knitting needles.

One common misconception I’ve encountered, especially among non-knitters and non-crocheters are that they are knit or crocheted into the fabric itself. However, this is false and the stitch marker moves from needle to needle throughout the process.

What does a removable stitch marker look like?

To explain better, here are two types of removable stitch markers:

Clover Split Ring MarkersClover Split Ring Markers are similar to the solid ones above, however are split and allow the marker to be removable or to hook into the yarn.

These are adaptable for both knitting and crochet applications. They can be used for all of the same reasons in both crafts.

With the ability to slip into a stitch, this style of stitch marker is used often in crochet for marking stitches of importance or the beginning of a round.

Removable Stitch Markers Entomology - 5 Spider Stitch Markers for Crochet and KnittingAnother difference between removable stitch markers and solid ones is that removable markers do not usually come in a variety of needle sizes. Because they often don’t follow along on the knitting needles, it does not matter how large or small they are.

Some manufacturers may offer a small and large hook to work better on fine or bulky weight yarns.

Another version of removable stitch markers is made with a locking mechanism or hook. For example, Caliopes Fibre make these delightful markers. They can easily be hooked through the yarn to mark the beginning of a round or another important place in your pattern.

What does Crimson Orchid Designs offer for Stitch Marker options?

Here at Crimson Orchid Designs, we have provided a wide array of options. We hand-make three stitch marker varieties, offering customizable features within each.

Droplet Stitch Markers and Stitch Marker Drops

Crimson Orchid Designs Autumn Stitch Marker DropsThese are essentially the same product; being made to fit snuggly on a wide range of knitting needle sizes.

Droplet Stitch Markers are made in small sizes featuring beautiful glass, crystal, Swarovski or gemstone beads. They are sold in a set of 10, come on a matching holder and are available in two small sizes:

  • Mini – 3.25 mm / US3
  • Small – 4 mm / US6

Stitch Marker Drops are the same as above but made with larger beads in larger sizes. They are still hand-crafted, fitting snuggly on your needles and are snag-free. Drops are sold in sets of 8, come on a matching holder and are available in four sizes:

  • Medium – 6 mm / US8
  • Medium/Large – 8 mm / US10
  • Large – 10 mm / US15
  • Extra-Large – 11.5 mm / US16

Traditional Stitch Markers

Crimson Orchid Designs Stitch Marker OptionsAll of our traditional stitch markers are customizable with four options. You can choose from two ring sizes to be used for knitting projects. You can also choose, if you prefer, from two hook sizes. This allows the markers to be removable and can be used for knitting or crochet. The small hook is perfect for more delicate, lighter weight yarns. The large hook is great for worsted to bulky weight yarns.

All of our stitch markers are hand-crafted with high-quality glass, crystal, Swarovski or gemstone beads. They come in a set of 5 (unless otherwise noted in the description) and are available with the following options:

  • Small rings – 4 mm / US6
  • Large rings – 6 mm / US10
  • Small hooks
  • Large hooks

Stitch markers are an invaluable tool in a crafter’s project bag. There are so many options available, allowing you to customize according to your personality and knitting or crochet style. Whether solid or removable, stitch markers are useful, handy and can save you time and frustration in your fibre projects.

Knitting Unraveled

Knitting Unraveled Hitchhiker Shawl

Used with permission of Sharlene Belzile

 

There are many opportunities available to learn how to knit. Some people are shown by a relative or friend, some watch YouTube videos and others enjoy the process of learning by reading an instructional book.

For those seeking to learn knitting skills with friendly assistance by someone experienced, there is now another option.

My good friend, Sharlene Belzile, created her business Knitting Unraveled, Knitting for Knovices in the fall of 2015. Since beginning her teaching and instruction company, she has taught more than 40 people how to knit within Edmonton, Alberta and the surrounding area.

She offers both in-house instruction as well as being mobile to come to the location of your choosing (which would be perfect for girl’s night in!). The courses she offers include both beginner and intermediate classes, as well as the option for either group or individual training. She even offers individual “Touch Up” classes – great if you’ve forgotten a particular technique or need help in a certain area.

The classes include all materials you need to get started, including a project bag for your beginners course!

I recently had the opportunity to speak to her about her business and her inspiration.

Sharlene Belzile, Instructor from Knitting UnraveledWhen did you start knitting?

I started knitting when I was in my early 30s. My mom had taught me to crochet when I was a child but I always wondered how they got such beautiful projects while rubbing two sticks together. I took a class through Edmonton Metro Continuing Education. I was taught how to knit, purl, cast on and bind off. That’s all. I had to learn most everything else on my own.

In your knitting, who inspires you?

Honestly, my mom. Two days after I taught her to knit, she knit a pair of socks. I had been knitting for years and still didn’t know how to knit socks. She reminds me that my limitations are usually only in my head.

What is your favourite part of knitting (a stitch, a technique, a project)?

I love watching a pattern come together; holding it up and seeing the heel of a sock or the thumb gusset on a pair of mitts I just created. The process of knitting is most enjoyable to me.

What inspired you to start teaching others to knit?

I taught my mom, my mother in law, and a friend how to knit. When you see the light bulb go on and they finally catch on, it fills me up with excitement. I wanted to give other people an enjoyable education where they could learn as much as I could teach them, unlike my own first classes, and to see their own “A-ha” moment.

What is the most challenging part of teaching others to knit?

The self-doubt in people. Listening to people say “I can’t do this” or “I’ll be your worst student”. If you come into any new education thinking you won’t learn anything, you’re right, you won’t. Although, I have had many many students say this. I’ve only actually had one completely quit. Once they catch on, their confidence rises and they change their minds quickly about their abilities.

If you could only give one piece of advice to someone new to knitting, what would it be?

Knitting Unraveled Sweater Cables

Used with permission of Sharlene Belzile

You can do it! Whether it is a new pattern, stitch or technique; you can do it. Knitting is just two stitches, knit and purl. If you can learn those two stitches, everything else is just a combination of the two. So you can do it all!

Favorite Things

I also had a chance to ask her about a few of her favourite things.

Her favorite designers at the moment at Susan B. Anderson and Mercedes Tarasovich. Both of these wonderful designers can be found on Ravelry as well as hosting their own blogs.

Sharlene’s favorite yarn fibre is anything merino (and can we blame her?). And her favourite items to knit are toys and lately, she has dived into the deep end of sweater knitting.

In the age-old question of straights/double pointed needles (DPN’s) or circulars, Sharlene is a circular needle knitter for sure. She prefers to use metal needles although she has a set of Denise bamboo needles that she really loves to use from time to time.

I have had the pleasure of knitting with Sharlene on many occasions and can certainly vouch for both her skill as a knitter as well as her wonderful personality. So if you are looking for an experienced, patient knitting instructor who will cheer you on with every “a-ha” moment, Sharlene is definitely your lady! She can be reached on multiple platforms, listed below.

Facebook: knittingunraveled
Website: knittingunraveled.com
Email: sbelzile@shaw.ca
Cell: 780-686-5311

Creativity is Like the Tide

Creativity Is Like the Tide

Creativity Is Like the Tide

Over the years, as I’ve gotten older, I have come to recognize that my personal creativity is similar to that of the tide.

During my younger years, I often found the ebb and flow of my creative energy frustrating and unpredictable. I would be filled with passion and excitement about a particular creative pursuit, only to get partially through it and find my energy and desire waning. I dabbled in so many different creative mediums: sewing, painting, beading, knitting, crochet, card making, scrapbooking, floral design, pottery. You name it for a craft, I have probably tried it.

I enjoyed all of these mediums and even became quite proficient with some of them. I collected a wide assortment of craft supplies and even had my own room to house my ever-growing stash. Throughout all of my searching and trying and experimenting, however, my creative energy still seemed to have a rhythm of its own.

It was after much reflection that I finally accepted the undeniable fact that my creativity moves like the lunar tide. It wasn’t the mode of creativity that had been frustrating me all these years, it was the ebb and flow, the tidal waves of my creative energy that I just never fully understood and embraced.Hummingbird

With this new-found wisdom, I can now approach my creativity venues differently, with more love, grace and patience.  Over the years, I have narrowed down my creative crafts to a few select few: knitting, spinning and beading.

I can now recognize when the creative tide is on it’s way out – I lose the interest to carry my knitting with me everywhere and I enjoy watching TV without the eed to keep my hands busy getting a few extra rows in. In the pst, this would have bothered me. Now, being more mindful of my rhythm, I happily accept that the tide is going out and I am able to look forward to the next wave of energy to wash in.

I now trust in myself that there will always be a high tide once again. And I give myself permission to relish in the ebb and flow of the creative waves that makes up my life. And that is okay.

I would love to hear about how other people handle the rise and fall of creative energy in their lives.  Please leave a comment below or on one of the social media platforms I participate in.

The Knitting Retreat

Knitting Retreat Llama photographed by Linda McJannet

Llama photographed by Linda McJannet

The Knitting Retreat

I have the wonderful pleasure of being part of an amazing group of women who love to knit, crochet, spin and dabble in a wide variety of crafty pursuits.  One of these women created a MeetUp group called Knit Away.  This group is focused on creating knitting retreats where we get together for a weekend, go to different locations, and spend this precious time knitting, crocheting, spinning, and needle working.

Everyone is encouraged to bring whatever projects they wish to work on and other crafts or expressions of creativity are all welcome.  We will eat, drink tea, nap, walk through nature, craft and most importantly to me, connect.

Birch Bay Ranch

This past weekend, eight of us had the opportunity to spend the weekend at an amazing facility that we have been at before, Birch Bay Ranch.  It is a rustic camp set in the woods that functions as a children’s summer horse camp for the warmer months of the year.  They also open for private functions and other events throughout the year.

We had the privilege of spending three days and two nights at this wonderful place, where the food is all homemade and we are treated like royalty.  There is a log cabin style lodge with a huge fireplace, comfortable couches and chairs and plenty of natural lighting.  Outside on the grounds are a wide variety of outdoor activities as well as horses for riding and one lone llama.

What’s the Appeal?

The appeal of going away for a knitting retreat, to me, is the ability to connect with like-minded people who share the same passion for creativity that I do.  I live in a very rural community and miss the regular knitting nights with a group of friends.

I miss being able to talk to people who get excited about the softness of a new yarn or the way colours explode into patterns in a newly knit sock or shawl.  I miss the gossip of who’s knitting what, what classes are being taken, who’s been yarn shopping recently and what the hot new patterns are on Ravelry.

Going away on a knitting retreat, even if it is only every few months, allows me to reconnect with my tribe, my knitta’ sisters, my creativity kin, as it were.  I had lost my knitting mojo for many months and hadn’t picked up my needles or even looked at any of my ongoing work-in-progress projects since autumn.  It is wonderful that something so simple could respark my fire for a craft that I truly love.

Grateful for my Friend

I am grateful that Cathy put this group together and that creativity and passion can bring together the most unlikely friends from all walks of life – once again proving that connection through creativity is a language we can all speak.

Please find below a list of links for some of the websites I have referenced above:

The Healing of Rose Quartz

As I discussed in my previous post, Pantone’s Colour of the year 2016 is derived from two colours: Rose Quartz and Serenity.  This discovery re-energized my love of the amazing semi-precious gemstone that is Rose Quartz.

Over the years, I have created many items with this beloved gemstone.  Stitch marker sets for knitting, abacus Row Counter Bracelets, wire-wrapped rings, earrings and jewelry have all been inspired by Rose Quartz.  I also have a wide variety of Rose Quartz pieces in my personal gemstone collection and to this day, I still love the soft, feminine energy of this healing crystal.

The Healing of Rose Quartz

The Healing of Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz is a well know and easily recognized gemstone, seen as the stone of universal love.  It has been known throughout the ages as a symbol of love and beauty and has a wide variety of benefits, both physically and emotionally.

Physical

For the physical body, it is thought that Rose Quartz assists in reducing tension and stress, helps to strengthen the heart and circulatory system and enhances sexual function, such as stabilizing menstrual cycle and boosting fertility*.

Emotional

It is a gentle stone that provides emotional support and comfort to the wearer and helps to increase self-esteem and peace. Rose Quartz is an excellent stone for stress and worry, providing a gentle calmness, as well as enhancing creativity and imagination.

One of my favourite ways to work with this crystal is so simple: I carry a small tumbled piece in my pocket, especially when I know I have a high-stress day ahead or a few worries on my mind.  It is comforting to be able to reach into my pocket and feel the soft, cool stone between my fingers.  It provides me with a reminder to relax and breathe, to let go of stress and anxiety and trust in the process.

I also love working with my Rose Quartz Healing Gemstone Stitch Marker Drops while I’m knitting.  They provide a relaxing feel to the meditative quality that knitting can provide, while helping to encourage my creativity.

I highly recommend to adventure into the world of gemstones.  Today, they can be quite budget-friendly for a wide variety of common crystals in all types of options: tumbled, cut, rough/raw or made into jewelry, stitch markers or ornaments.  I welcome you to contact me for any questions you may have about incorporating healing gemstones into your creative practice.

*These are purely suggestions based on a wide amount of crystal healing research.  This is in no way meant to substitute medical advice.  If you have any problems, please see your doctor or health care provider.

Connecting with Creativity

Pantone Color of the Year

The ColorPantone Color of the Year

The Pantone Color of the Year 2016

In keeping with their yearly tradition, Pantone has released its Color of the Year selection for 2016. Unlike previous years, this selection is a combination of two colors: Rose Quartz and Serenity.

As a designer or even as someone merely dabbling in creativity, whatever the medium, this unique combination of colors not only inspires artistic process but also encourages reflection on the reason behind creativity and the connection that creativity provides.

Creativity Can Be Scary

Creativity can be a scary topic for so many people.  I have heard countless times “oh, I’m not creative” or “I have no artistic talents”.  Friends are bewildered at how I can nurture a business based on some of the many facets of creativity: knitting, crochet, spinning, fiber-arts.

Over time, I have come to recognize that absolutely every single person has the spark of artistry within them.  This spark provides a unique opportunity to connect with others.

Creativity Provides Connection

I have been blessed to find friends in the oddest and most unlikely places, and to connect, because of creativity.  I have had many friendships blossom in the garden of a common hobby such as knitting or lampwork glass bead making with people who seemingly have nothing else in common with me.

However, through the arts and crafts of creativity, those friendships have deepened and become integral pieces of my life.  I have had the sweetest women come up to me, watching me knit, sparking up a conversation and reminiscing about how they used to knit or crochet as a child.  Men will watch me working at my spinning wheel at a local art show and feel compelled to talk to me about how interesting the mechanics of the wheel is.  Creativity is a form of connection.

Something as simple as a color can energize, invigorate or provoke a spark of inspiration. The same can be said of creativity.  I encourage you to reach out to others, to create a connection with people, to embrace your sparkle and continue to shine!