DIY Stitch Markers

When I started knitting 12 years ago, I tried using stitch markers. They were the plastic rings that you get at big box craft stores and I hated them. They seemed to get in the way sometimes and make the stitches around it wonky. So, I stopped using them and used little bits of yarn instead. They worked pretty well and did not get in the way of my knitting, and were cheap and always available.

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A couple of years ago, I got a set of metal ring stitch markers in a swap. I did not use them at first, but little by little, I did begin using them and found them quite handy. The rings are thin and they are easier to move from one needle to the next than a piece of yarn. Plus, there’s no way that you will miss it when you are knitting without looking. I now have a few sets of these stitch markers and they are indispensable to me now, especially in complicated lace projects. In one project alone, I had 13 stitch markers in use. A sweater knit in one piece will often take at least 5 or six or more. Pretty soon, I had run out of stitch markers.

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Instead of going to etsy and buying more, I decided to try to make my own. I had a bunch of beads leftover from shawls that I had knit, so my purchases to try were really minimal. It turned out to be pretty easy, quick, and inexpensive, so I thought I would share with you what I did.

Here’s what you will need:

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The beads are glass and are 6/0 size, which is the size commonly used in fingering weight knitted beading projects. They come in strands or in tubes. If you get the ones from Japan, the holes will be more uniform. Why use beads? Well, I suppose you don’t have to, but it does cover up the gap in the ring and you can make them all different colors to designate different things in your knitting. A green one can mean make a stitch here, while a red one can mean decrease a stitch, for example.

I used 10mm jump rings, which fit up to a size 6-8 needle comfortably, depending on your yarn. Right now, I am knitting a chunky sweater on size 8 needles and I found that the markers were getting a little stuck on the yarn, so I am using bigger, dangly ones for that project instead. Since I used up the 10mm ones, I got some 9mm rings which is not a huge difference in size, I know, but the package came with more rings for the same price, making the markers even cheaper!

The hypo cement, the tool, the beads, and rings can all be found in the beading section of your local big box craft store. The tool is just your basic wire cutting pliers. I think I paid less than $5 for this pair.

Got everything? It’s easy from here. The first step is to take a ring and use your tool to gently open it enough to slip a bead on the ring. Just insert the tips of your tools inside the ring and gently pull on the handles.

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Slip a bead on. Then, place the ring in that little notched part of the tool like this:

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The notch holds the ring in place while you squeeze the opening closed. Be gentle here. Too much force can cause the ring to break or get out of shape.

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I do a whole bunch of these at once before I get out the glue. It helps to make the gluing process go more quickly and then you don’t have to smell the fumes as long. Before you begin gluing, make sure you are in a place with pretty good ventilation. The glue is quite smelly! Also, be sure to work over a surface that you don’t mind getting glue on. I used a plastic tray from the grocery store. The top of a salad greens container would work perfectly, especially for drying the rings.

Take a ring and apply a tiny bit of glue over the seam of the ring.

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Then, slide the bead so that it is situated over the seam and the glue. Don’t worry if the glue makes hairs or gets in your fingers.

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The tube takes a little getting used to since it is heat sensitive. I had a lot of glue oozing out at one point, but I just left it in my container and let it pool there. That allowed me to dip the rings in the pool of glue, but it was a bit messier that way. Anyway, just be sure you are working over something plastic, preferably. Paper will stick to the glue.

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Place the beads on a spare piece of plastic tray or lid and let them dry. When they are dry, it will be easy to pull off any stray glue hairs or globs. Incidentally, I did try making these without glue at first, but I found that the beads slid around too much and left the gap in the ring exposed. That gap can get snagged on your yarn; something that is most definitely not desirable!

Check your rings when you are done. I jiggle the beads a bit to see if they will move, which they should not. Sometimes, the gap in the ring will still be open if the bead has moved. I just discard those. I think out of about 150, I only found one or two that needed to be thrown away. Pretty easy, right?

Well, I will hope you will try making your own, but in the meantime, I’ll give you a chance to win a set. Leave a comment and I will enter you in a drawing to win a set of 20 stitch markers of varying colors. If you want to give me some fun ideas for cheap activities to do with the boys this summer, that would be fabulous, too! Drawing will be next Wednesday, June 11, at 10:00am, EST. I will ship anywhere, so comment away!

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Posted on June 5, 2014, in Knitting, Misc. Crafts, Stuff I Use and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Wow Carie, that is brilliant! I am definitely going to have to give it a try. Thank you for such an excellent tutorial.

  2. Lisa Humbert

    I had no idea that’s how that type of stitch marker was made. They are lovely!

  3. great post! since I can’t use that glue I’m super excited to throw in a chance to win a set. I like mine you gave out at sheep and wool!

    hmmm ideas for the boys? I am huge on hikes and butterfly id and birding and stream water stuff I used to do stream quality monitoring with Audubon Naturalist Society. yea, in a different world, I’d end up in ecology 😉 Soldiers Delight is a nice area up your way.

  4. Now you got me thinking! Thanks for the tutorial, I just might try it.

  5. Mary Ann Knab

    Carie, I love these. And I think I have everything in the house. The glue and the beads definitely, but have to check the size of my jump rings. It would be great to make that stuff productive!

  6. They’re beautiful!

  7. smithwickstudios

    I’ve been wondering how to make stitch markers! I’m definitely going to try this.

    My summer standby is fishing… get a cheap pole and bait the hook with a piece of corn and a bit of marshmallow. It’s surprising how tasty that seems to be for small fish like bream.

  8. Carie, this is inspired!!! I love stitch markers and would not have figured it out on my own. Thank you for this tutorial!

  9. As for ideas, for entertaining the kids, how about duplicating the lost wax process of casting bronze? Or apprenticing to a blacksmith? Perhaps this could be the ballistic summer by constructing the longed for potato cannon. Dry ice experiments? Or constructing two fish ponds with differing water levels so the main delight is designing a lock system for the fish to swim from one pond to another?

  10. Thank you, Carie, for this information! I love making gifts for knitting friends, and this is such a good idea. We can NEVER have too many stitch markers!

  11. You could also use captive bead rings (a type of jewelry for body piercings). They’re essentially the same thing. This is probably cheaper though!

  12. How clever you are! Thank you for sharing what you learned! I have been wanting to try and make some!

  13. Your directions were MOST helpful! I stopped at the craft store on my way home from work one night last week and made some this weekend. I am very pleased with how they turned out. Thank you for sharing the directions!

  14. Brilliant…I’ve got most of the materials on hand myself, so I can give it a try soon! Thanks! I wish I had some good ideas for you and the boys, but all I’ve raised are cats who don’t take well to organized activities!

  15. Jean E. Byjiminy on ravelry

    Awesome tutorial! Thanks, Carie.
    Have you made oobleck with your boys? It is messy but fun.

  16. I have been trying to figure out what jump ring size will fit what bead size for quite some time now. Thank you for helping this knitter!!!

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