The first stitch markers I ever used were plastic rings. I quickly discovered that they painfully dig into my palms and replaced them with rubber rings. Those were not as painful but they didn’t slide well on bamboo needles. I love to use bamboo needles so I had to look for a different type of stitch markers.
My first handmade stitch markers were a makeshift solution. We went on a long road trip and I didn’t have a knitting project to take with me. So I grabbed a pack of chunky wool and 10 mm (US size 15) circular needles to “whip up” a simple top-down raglan sweater.
What I didn’t think of was the fact that I would need stitch markers to mark the raglan lines. None of my plastic or rubber rings were big enough to fit the 10 mm needles, so I cut strips from a plastic bag, folded each strip in half and tied two ends with an overhand knot. Those markers served me well and the sweater I made during that road trip is still one of my most favourite winter woollens.
That successful experience inspired me to experiment with different ways to make stitch markers. First, I made similar loops with worsted weight yarn. Those were soft and flexible and they didn’t snag the yarn, but the loop was too light and was often turning around the needle and mingling with stitches.
Plus, I had to have multiple sets of those loop-markers in various sizes to match the size of the needles I was using at the moment.
The idea to use a slip knot to make stitch markers came almost accidentally. As I tightened a slip knot on a needle at the beginning of a knit-on cast on, I realized that a slip knot on a piece of cord would make a perfect stitch marker with adjustable size.
To make the marker heavier (and prettier!), I added a bead to each end of the cord and got the best stitch marker I ever used. I made a set of those cord stitch markers several years ago and I use them to this day.
I used them during the recent Everyday Tee Knit Along and received a few questions about those stitch markers.
This tutorial is my response to your requests. I’ll show you how you can easily make your own flexible snag free stitch markers that can be adjusted to different needle sizes.
If you are a visual learner, click here to watch the marker-making process in a video tutorial.
All you need is a piece of cord, two beads for each marker you plan to make and scissors.
I will use waxed cotton cord but you can make these stitch markers with polyester, leather or any other kind of cord, or even with cotton yarn, just make sure the cord is thin enough to go through the beads you plan to add to the marker.
As to the beads, feel free to use any kind you like. The prettier the better! Stay away from the beads that have spikes or some kind of shape that could potentially snag the yarn.
I picked lovely metal beads because I like how they look with the light brown cord. Somehow, this combination reminds me of Vikings 🙂
Cut a piece of cord that is around 30 cm / 12″ long. The length doesn’t have to be exact because we’ll trim the excess cord afterwards. I usually don’t use a ruler and cut a piece that is approximately 1.5 times the length between my thumb and index fingers.
In this step, we’ll make a slip knot to form a loop that we can place on a needle when we need to use a stitch marker. Here’s how to do it (you can also watch it in this part of the video tutorial):
2.1. Find the point that is at about two-thirds of the length of the cord and make a small loop so that the longer part of the cord is on top of the shorter part.
2.2. Fold the longer part of the cord and pass the fold through the loop to make a slip knot. If the cord is flat, mould it around the knot so that the knot doesn’t have any twists in it.
2.3. Pull the cord to tighten the slip knot.
Now it is time to make sure the stitch marker is big enough to fit most needle sizes.
Place the loop on your index finger and pull the movable end of the cord to adjust the size of the loop so that it snugly fits your finger.
Ease your finger out of the loop.
This step is the most fun one – we’ll add a bead to each “leg” of our stitch marker. Those beads will make the marker heavier and less likely to do cartwheels around a needle. They will also make the marker prettier, and that is always a good thing.
4.1. Make an overhand knot on one leg of the marker in a spot that is a thumb-width away from the slip knot. If the cord is flat, make sure there are no twists in the knot.
Pull the knot tight.
4.2. Thread a bead. If the tip of the cord frays, dip it into white glue, then rub it between your fingers to make it thin and let dry.
4.3. Make another overhand knot right underneath the bead.
4.4. Trim the excess cord.
Repeat steps 4.1. through 4.4. to add a bead to the other leg of the marker.
Now make as many of those markers as you need. Then make some more for your knitting friends 🙂
To adjust the size of the marker, pull one strand to tighten the slip knot, or pull the other strand to widen it so that the marker loosely fits the size of the needle.
When you make a set, use beads in a different colour on one of the markers. This marker will show the beginning of the round while the identical markers stay at raglan lines or other important parts of your project.
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.