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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Stitch Markers

While I was finishing up Ene's Scarf/shawl, an interesting exchange took place on KR about trying to use stitch markers for this project. Unfortunately, for the bulk of the lace of the body, stitch markers didn't work because the double decrease kept shifting its place in the pattern repetition.

Finished Ene's Scarf

This makes for the lovely "organic" mesh rather than clearly defined columns or chunks of pattern. I really enjoyed working on this section of this scarf. But others talked about continuing to use the stitch markers and just shifting them back and forth, while a couple of other people used the stitch markers for seven to ten rows and then "knit without the net" and took them off.

At the same time this was going on, other interactions in my life have had me wishing life came with stitch markers! Well, it does -- some at least. Family. Obligations. Loan payments . But if life came with stitch markers, which ones would they be and how would you use them?

Stitch markers come in so many different designs. I tend to collect the solid ring markers -- the plastic ones in different colors, the bulky white ones, the small black rubber ones. But there are other stitch markers out there as well. Split markers that can be taken on and off with no hassle. Coil-less safety pins that stay put with the safety of a ring, but can still be taken off and shifted. And of course, the dangly beaded ones that I covet for no useful reason other than that they make me smile.

My next question parallels the discussion on KR. When should stitch markers be removable and when not? How to select different markers for different pattern breaks? Can you change half-way through an item? What if you forget what the marker means? When are "social" stitch markers a luxury and when must they be kept firmly in place? And when markers travel down the knitting, when do you shift them up? Every row? Whenever you need to see them? More often to help you keep your place with less effort?

Do some people need/like stitch markers more than others? In knitting and in life? How to negotiate the conflicts between the fact that in life, most of my stitch markers are split and easily shifted, but others seem to want THEIR stitch markers to be solid rings in the pattern. It’s a sticky issue.

In knitting it's much easier. I choose and use to suit myself. I'm currently knitting a ribbed camisole in the round and not using any markers at all. I'll need to put some in when I get to the neckline and the arm-holes. But not before. It never occurred to me to try to use stitch markers with Ene's scarf, but with the stole I'm designing using several patterns from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury, you can bet those solid little rings will be right there telling me which panel I'm working on at any given moment. I'll probably even color-code.

There's no set answer. But there are days when I wish life DID come in a knitting kit complete with needles, yarn, and color-coded markers all picked out. Some days I just don't want to have to choose or to deal with the frogging that comes with not picking the right way to go! Hmmm. Do you think I could find one on-line? Nothing like fair-isle of course but . . . . ah well, back to the top.


KnitNana said...

As usual, profound! Would I want a "cookie-cutter" knitting kit for life? No, I don't think so...but a few more stitch markers, colorized for clarity would be helpful sometimes! Thank you for your comments to my blog!

ana said...

I found your webside just today, and your shawls are really beautiful, after a long search for the pattern for two of your shawls, I have a question, where did you find the pattern for "Elfin Lace Shawl"? Again, congratulation on your beautiful shawls!!!

Shelob said...

Knitnana, the job search continues -- thanks for the hugs!

Ana, the Elfin Lace pattern comes from an older booklet called 99 knit stitches. It has a red cover, and I found it in a Michaels several years ago. If you can't find the book, let me know, and I'll get the publication information for you.