Wondering how to use stitch markers in crochet? Stitch markers are an essential crochet tool, but not everyone takes full advantage of them. Here are 11 different ways to use stitch markers to crochet smarter, not harder.
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What is a stitch marker?
Stitch markers are small rings or clips that mark important places in your crochet projects. You can also use crochet stitch markers to keep your work from unraveling or to store important information about your project. Stitch markers are one of the most important and frequently used crochet tools (next to hooks, of course).
Types of Stitch Markers
Stitch markers are used for both crocheting and knitting, but not all of them will work for both crafts. There are three main types of stitch markers, but only two can be used for crochet:
- Locking stitch markers: clips that open and close (e.g. lobster clasp, leverback hooks, safety pins). The image below shows several types of locking stitch markers.
- Split ring stitch markers: a little curly cue that slides onto your stitches
- Closed stitch markers: fully closed circles (or any shape) that can only be used for knitting
What else can you use as a stitch marker?
Obviously you can use stitch markers as stitch markers, but what if you don’t have any? In a pinch you can also use:
- safety pins
- paper clips
- yarn scraps (pulled through the stitch you want to mark)
- twist ties
Where to buy stitch markers for crocheting?
You can buy stitch markers from anywhere crochet tools are sold. My favorite online shops are:
- Etsy – the best for cool, handmade stitch markers like this Schitt’s Creek set from Pink Fox Woodshop or all these cuties from Capitol Maker
- Amazon – the best for bulk stitch markers like these plastic stitch markers or these metal crochet stitch markers
- WeCrochet – can’t beat 20 basic stitch markers for only $2.49
What are the best stitch markers?
I have a ton of different stitch markers, and I’ve even made my own DIY stitch markers. Hands down, the best stitch markers for Instagram and product listing photos are the gorgeous fancy ones made from laser cut wood, jewelry charms or beads, or polymer clay (like Hello Lavender).
However, the best stitch markers for actual crocheting are plastic locking stitch markers. They’re a classic for a reason! Plastic locking stitch markers open and close easily, plus they’re cheap, durable, and come in large quantities.
Grab this pack of 120 colorful locking stitch markers from Amazon and you’ll be good to go for years. Plus, it comes with a storage case and free tapestry needles.
How to Use Stitch Markers in Crochet
Stitch markers are handy for all types of reasons — marking important crochet stitches or repeats, keeping track of stitch or row counts, and even holding project pieces in place. Here are 11 different ways you can use a stitch marker. Let me know if you think of another way!
1. Mark the first or last stitch in each row
The most commonly dropped stitches (especially for new crocheters) are the first stitch of the row and the last stitch of the row. You can avoid dropping stitches (and accidental decreases and wiggly edges) if you place a stitch marker in the top of the first and/or last stitch in each row.
In the swatch below, I’ve used a stitch marker to mark the turning chain from the previous row. Sometimes the top of the chain can blend in with the side of the swatch, which makes it easy to accidentally skip.
2. Mark the first stitch in each round
When you’re crocheting in continuous rounds, it can be tough to find the first stitch. Stitch markers to the rescue! Just throw a stitch marker in the first stitch in the round, then move the marker to the next round as you crochet.
When I crocheted the Boho Bobble Coasters (shown below), I used a stitch marker to keep track of the first stitch in each round.
3. Mark important or meaningful stitches
The important stitches will change with each pattern, but they might be sleeves, increases or decreases, short rows, or pattern repeats. Stitch markers can help you keep track of it all. 😉
You can see two work-in-progress tops in the collage below. The purple top has a circular yoke and I’ve used stitch markers to mark the sleeves and the start of each round. The blue top is a raglan-style sweater and I’ve used stitch markers to mark the raglan increases in the yoke (top pic) and the sleeves (bottom pic).
4. Mark the right and wrong sides of a project
When the right side (RS) and wrong side (WS) of your project matter, you can use stitch markers to keep track of which side is which. Just clip a stitch marker to the right side, or use labelled stitch markers on both sides.
Below, I’ve used “RS” and “WS” stitch markers to label the right side and wrong side of a crocheted dishcloth. It’s pretty easy to tell which side is which when you’re crocheting the alpine stitch, but I just made the stitch markers with my xTool M1 and they were too cute not to use.
5. Mark increase/decrease rows or sides
Sometimes all of your increases or decreases will end up on the same side. If you clip a stitch marker to the increase side, you can quickly glance at the project to determine if it’s time for an increase or not.
When I crocheted the Muse Shawl, an asymmetrical shawl, I used a stitch marker (not pictured) on the increase side, so I always knew when to add stitches.
6. Count chains or stitches in long patterns
Long projects like the Misty Infinity Cowl may require over 100 (or more!) starting chains. It’s easy enough to lose count in a perfectly quiet environment, but pets and family members tend to become extra needy when you start counting to 228.
For long starting chains, I use stitch markers to mark every 20 or 25 chains. This makes it super easy to recount if I lose my spot or get interrupted. I usually leave the stitch markers on as I crochet the project, then I can quickly see how many stitches are left in a row.
7. Count rows
Stitch markers can help you keep track of your row counts, especially when it’s difficult to count the rows (like on large projects, spiral rounds, dark or fluffy yarn, or detailed stitch patterns). Decide how many rows you want each stitch marker to represent (I usually choose 5 or 10), then clip a marker each time you hit that number.
The image below shows a lemon peel stitch swatch with numbered stitch markers every five rows. Since the lemon peel stitch combines stitches of different heights, counting rows can be a bit tricky. Stitch markers help!
8. Mark placement of buttons, amigurumi body parts, etc.
When your project needs multiple buttons (like the Farmhouse Christmas Tree Skirt), you can use stitch markers to help get the placement perfect before sewing. You can also use this strategy to mark spots for safety eyes, appliques, or locations for amigurumi body parts.
9. Hold pieces in place when joining or sewing
Another way to use stitch markers in crochet is to hold pieces in place. Whether you’re seaming together several pieces for a garment or blanket, or sewing on amigurumi body parts, stitch markers can help you keep it all together.
Before seaming together the three rectangles used in my Window Pane Cardigan, I clipped them together with stitch markers and made sure the placement was perfect.
10. Keep work from unraveling in your project bag
Have you ever pulled a WIP out of your bag and accidentally unraveled part of your crochet project? Clip a stitch marker through the working loop of your project and you’ll never lose a stitch again.
Hands down, this is my favorite way to use stitch markers in crochet. Sure, you can pull the working loop out and hope for the best, but clipping a stitch marker through the working loop locks it in place. Below, you can see how I used a purple stitch marker to save the working loop on my double thick potholder WIP.
11. Store important pattern information
The final use for stitch markers in crochet is to store pattern information like hook size. You could clip on a note with info (like yarn size/color, stitch used, etc.) or use a labelled stitch marker. That way when you come back to a project after several days (or years…), you’ll know which materials to grab.
Below, I’ve used a labelled stitch marker to remind myself that this project used a 6.0 mm crochet hook. I don’t do this nearly enough. There are so many times when I’ve come back to a project after a long time, found subpar notes, and had to guess about hook size. I never plan to abandon crochet projects for years at a time, but maybe I should start. 🤣
I made a whole set of these stitch markers using my xTool M1 laser cutter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need stitch markers for crochet?
Yes! A stitch marker is an essential crochet tool that’s helpful for so many aspects of crocheting, including marking important stitches, counting long starting chains, and keeping your work from unraveling.
Can you use paper clips as stitch markers?
Absolutely! Small paper clips are an excellent stand in for stitch markers.
What are some other names for stitch markers?
You may also see stitch markers referred to as progress keepers or stitch holders.
How do you use closed stitch markers in crochet?
Unfortunately, crocheters can’t use closed stitch markers as they’re not removeable. Only knitters can use them. If you’re a crocheter, reach for split ring or locking stitch markers instead.
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