Knitting markers or stitch markers are indispensable tools to crocheters and knitters alike. They can be used to mark a certain number of stitches, the beginning of a round, where to mark a particular stitch or beginning and end of a pattern, and more.
Stitch markers are like signs along the highway that let us know how far we have come and how far we have yet to go keeping us on the straight and narrow road towards lovely pattern stitches.
Patterns often call for stitch markers with the abbreviations ''pm'' (place marker) and ''sm'' (slip marker).
I remember that very first time I decided to knit a lace shawl. It was the wavey leaves lace pattern and I fell in love with it. I selected lace-weight yarn and began to knit. A few rows further the pattern was a complete mess. This was how I discovered ring markers. I have gotten so attached to using ring markers that I did not knit a lace pattern in which I couldn't use them.
The ring markers often match the asterisks in the pattern stitch instructions. For example, on row ten you must knit two stitches together and make a yarn-over before every markers. If you don't, there is something wrong, so stop and fix it as you notice it. If your pattern is correct as you get to each marker, your knitting will stay on pattern.
Besides lace patterns, stitch markers are useful for marking patterns like pleats in a skirt. Use them to see what you are supposed to be doing and then remove them.
In making raglan garments in top-down knitting, ring markers are a necessity. They tell you when and where to make the increases.
Safety pins & locking stitch markers
The alternative to the ring markers are knitter's safety pins and locking stitch markers. One should always be careful when using safety pins in place of stitch markers because they can ''catch'' and snag the yarn. If used carefully safety pins are great for all-around purposes, from marking the right side of knitting to keeping the tail ends of your yarn in place to marking how much progress is made while knitting.
Locking stitch markers look almost like safety pins, except that they won't snag your yarn as a safety pin would. They are available in small, medium or large size; use the large size when working with bulkier yarns so the marker won't get ''swallowed'' into the stitches.
It is possible to use other things, like little bits of yarn tied with a knot to form a circle. Even though these can be a great substitute for stitch markers in case of emergency, I find that my needles move such yarn loops more slowly than they do the commercial rings, and usually, I try to avoid anything that slows my knitting down :-)
How many stitch markers does a knitter need?
We recommend to always pay attention to sizes of stitch markers as they can vary and you want them to fit over those needles you use most often. In addition, stitch markers often come in packs of 10 to 20 and this is not too much. The rule of thumb here is - better to have too many than too few!