I’m still very new to this knit/crochet thing. Despite an abortive attempt to learn crochet when I was in my early 20s (I eventually figured out that the reason I didn’t keep with it wasn’t that it took me forever to learn how to make anything other than an endless chain - it was that I hate the feel of cheap acrylic yarn), and an even less successful attempt to learn knitting when I was in elementary school (also with cheap acrylic yarn - but it was rainbow yarn, and I wasn’t quite such a fiber snob then), it’s really only been in the last few months that I’ve done anything other than moon over the knit/crochet books at the craft store and say, “Maybe I’ll learn to do that someday.”
I picked up crocheting first. It was something I could get results from while I struggled to learn to knit.
(Note to anyone reading this who’d like to learn to knit - if you’re not going to get someone who already knits to teach you (I didn’t, and I kinda wish I had), I would not recommend trying to learn from the Susan Bates Learn Knitting! book. At least not if your brain works anything like mine does. I would, however, highly recommend visiting Knitting Help, the knitting section at Dummies.com, and TECHKnitting(TM), all of which have excellent videos and/or diagrams to help you visualize what you should be doing.)
Anyway, my crochet instruction book (from an I Taught Myself to Crochet kit) had much clearer instructions (though I was so confused by being told that all I had to do to make an increase was make two stitches in a single stitch that I spent far too much time on Google trying to figure out exactly how that worked), including instructions on using the stitch markers included in the kit. They’re tiny split rings, and you thread them onto the yarn.
That’s worth repeating.
They’re threaded onto the yarn, and they stay there til you take them off.
Flash forward a few weeks, and I’m working on NovySan’s Doctor Who scarf, which does like to develop extra stitches. (Fewer and fewer as I get better at this, but still.) So, I’m counting stitches to make sure I still have 60, and Novy’s daughter (who started knitting long before I did) says, “Do you have any colored rubber bands? You can just put one every five or ten stitches and then you know exactly how many stitches you have.”
"Oh, I’ve got stitch markers," I say. "But it’s such a pain to move them up when you add rows, and this thing’s so long, it’s just easier to do it this way." We were, I now know, talking at cross-purposes. Because when you knit with stitch markers, you keep them on the needles - you don’t hang them off the thread.
See, what I imagined she was suggesting is that I put the rubber bands on the needles, and knit through them, a bit like knitting two stitches together. Then, when I’d worked up a few more rows, I’d cut them out and set a new batch of markers. (Yeah, that doesn’t make much sense to me, either, now that I try to explain it to someone who doesn’t live inside my skull.) Probably not as big a pain as threading those tiny split-ring markers onto the thread, but it was still going to slow me down. And I don’t knit that fast to start with.
Today, though, I was thinking that if I could figure out an easier way to hang stitch markers off my knitting, I’d be more likely to use them. I have a bobby pin hanging off the “increase” end of this bias scarf I’m knitting, for instance, and that’s plenty easy to move. And I have a whole bunch of French hooks in my sewing box, which seemed like they’d be easy to make stitch markers out of. So I started Googling. And I found this awesome tutorial on making beaded stitch markers out of metal toggle clasps. Michael, who makes them, says he likes the clasps because they’re solid rings, so they don’t snag on anything, and they don’t come open.
"Wait a minute," I said. "If they’re closed, and they’re made of metal, how do you get them out of the yarn when you’re done?"
So I went back to Google.
And I found an old thread from the Knitter’s Review Forum in which I learned that I’m not the only one who couldn’t figure out how closed stitch markers don’t wind up as a permanent part of your project.
I’m so relieved.
(The same forum thread, by the way, has a really cool tutorial on making scrap-yarn row counters. I’m definitely going to try that. Just as soon as I’ve put this new stitch-marker knowledge of mine into practice.)