Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Beaded stitch markers: Adventures in crafting

After seeing many beautiful pictures of beaded stitch markers and having an elevated view of my own craftiness, I decided to try making some myself.  You see, I have a whole bunch of beads along with head pins, and know how to make a wrapped loop;  I don't really make jewelry for myself (maybe I should start you think?!) and I love finding uses for items I already have stashed.  The first attempt involved purchasing (gasp!) toggle clasps and using those for my rings.  The beauty of this method is that the clasps already have a place to attach the beads to and the toggle itself is a seamless circle so nothing will catch on the yarn.  They came out great, and I immediately put them onto several projects already in progress.  Here is where I learned the failings with this method, they work just great for lace work (currently being used for my liesel scarf and working quite well) and would probably be okay with heavier weights of yarn but for my hell-sweater they created a laddering problem so I had to abandon them in favor of the plain rubber ones I have from Clover.  So back to the craft store to peruse for more supplies.

small toggle clasp markers

On my next trip to the craft store I purchased some 12mm split rings to try, (you know, like miniature key rings) not sure how well they will work but I'll give them a shot.  I need to make a handful at least as I will be starting a clapotis scarf soon and I understand it needs at least ten markers.  After making some of these and casting on my clapotis I learned that the jump rings are definitely lighter in weight than the toggle clasps, which is very desirable when using nine markers on a straight needle.  I also used lighter beads for these and I find that is helpful also with the weight issue, I had on seven of my toggle clasp markers and I could definitely tell the difference when I switched between the two. 

The big fancy beads I have seen pictured online (think enameled BIG beads) may be fun to try as one-of-a-kind markers to use for the end of a row, or if only one is needed, too many and I fear they would seriously weigh down my needles.  I would really prefer the rings to be seamless though as the break in the ring sometimes catches my fingers and I would be afraid of them catching on the yarn.  Also, the jump rings are about the same width of ring as the toggle clasps (may cause laddering), so I think I may need to make a trip to the hardware store for further ideas.  Also, after knitting for a few hours on my clapotis with the 12mm jump rings, they are way too big on my US 8 needles and feel really uncomfortable under my hands, if I decide to continue to use the jump rings I'll need to get smaller diameter ones as the 12mm ones are starting to drive me nuts!

12 mm split ring markers

I tagged along with Mister Vonkysmeed on one of his forays for car parts to the local hardware store, and it was a total bust.  What exactly was I thinking, oh yes, washers would just do wonders to my wooden needles?  Idiot!   On the way home he realized there was a bead store we would be passing by so he stopped (what a man!) and I checked out their hours, not open yet but I could come back in an hour to see if they had something that would work.  So we went home, I knitted for a bit then went out to see what they had at a more specialized bead shop than the local craft superstore.  Unfortunately for me they did not have exactly what I was looking for, well to clarify they did, but it was much too small.  The great part of all of this is that I finally have the vocabulary to go online and locate exactly what I want, which is (drum roll please), closed jump rings!  Could it really be that easy?  Yes, Virginia, it certainly can.  After about 40 minutes of comparison shopping and guessing the gauge I have an order on the way from for 18 gauge 8mm rings, 21 gauge 9mm rings and 6.5mm twisted rings (gauge was not indicated).  Best of all, no shipping charges, no tax, and I found a 10% off coupon, yippee!

Just got the envelope from Artbeads, it took almost a week for them to pack it and send it, but once it was finally shipped it got here within two days.  The closed jump rings are exactly what I needed to make the stitch markers (I love it when things work out right!).  The 6.5mm rings will be good for sock projects, or anything with fine needles and yarn as they fit up to a US 7 needle.  The 18 gauge rings appear to be the best weight for holding up to repeated use, but I like the diameter of the 9mm better as they fit up to US 10 1/2 needles (the 9mm were only available in 21 gauge).  Now of course I am tired of all the beads I have and want something else, sigh.  Maybe Chatty Cathy will let me raid her bead supplies!

6.5mm twisted closed jump rings

18 gauge 8mm closed jump rings

21 gauge 9mm closed jump rings

One of my friends saw my fancy new markers on my liesel scarf project this weekend and suggested that I make them to sell, I couldn't help it, I laughed.  There are so many hits on etsy alone (over 6,000 just now) that it seems a little silly to do so.  If I was first on the train rather than last it might have made sense for me to do it, but with so many others selling them already (and wow are there some pretties on display there!), the last thing this world needs is yet another SAHM selling these things.  There might be some made for birthday/Christmas gifts however!

Now to figure out how they make those gorgeous twisted wire crochet stitch markers...

comparison of all markers, all photographed on US 6 needle

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