And it’s not as simple as you would think.
There are a lot of options, and they all have their pros and cons.
In this article we are going to look at the options you have for counting stitches with crochet stitch markers, and the pros and cons of each.
Counting Crochet Stitches in your Head
It is of course possible to count crochet stitches as you go. If you are crocheting alone, in a quiet house with no distractions, then it can work very well. Provided you stay alone.
I find this method falls down because even solitary crocheting can be interrupted unexpectedly. A knock at the door from the postman, a distracting telephone call or the baby waking up prematurely can all disengage your brain for just long enough for you to forget where you had got to in your work.
The fact is that even when we think we are alone, we often aren’t.
And in fact most people who crochet aren’t ever alone, because they are parents, or grandparents.
Life is a distracting business, whether it’s by your own kids, your neighbours, your dog or the traffic outside.
Those of your who can keep tally in your minds alone – I salute you.
But I am not one of you.
For this reason, I have tried an awful lot of ways of marking stitches.
Crocheting with Tally Charts
In some cases I have found a simple notepad is a great way of keeping a record of where you have got to.
You can make a tally for your rows to help you keep track, although it would be rather a time killer to try and do this with each individual stitch.
I have found it works well if you are feeling relaxed and concentrating on what you are doing as you should.
The places it falls down as a method are perhaps mostly due to my own shortcomings. For example, I often find it hard to remember where the start of the row was when I’m producing three dimensional objects like toys. It’s all well and good knowing I’m on row 21, but if I can’t remember where the start of row 21 was how on earth am I to know when I’ve got to row 22…
It is also reliant upon me having any idea where I left my pen. Is it just me, or are pens subject to some other worldly magnetic force, that shoots them out of my line of sight whenever I take my eyes off them?
So, pen ramblings aside, I do like and use tally charts, but mostly just for keeping count of my rows. For keeping track of the stitches within the rows, I need stitch markers.
Using Yarn as a Crochet Stitch Marker
When I first started crocheting I marked my crochet stitches with yarn. This was purely because the first thing I made was a toy mouse, and I hadn’t ever heard of a stitch marker, let alone bought one.
The nice lady on the youtube tutorial suggested a piece of yarn, which sort of worked most of the time…
The massive benefit of using yarn is it’s availability. If you are crocheting, then you have yarn. Otherwise you’re just a girl with a hook, and a confused expression on her face.
It works better if the yarn you mark with is a different colour to the crochet stitches, but again most people who crochet do have more than one colour. So it’s a fab starting point still.
However, not nearly convenient enough to make up for it’s negative points.
It’s fiddly. You need to loosen your stitch, extract your hook, and use it to pull the little piece of yarn through.
It’s then not totally secure. Unless you have a very tight stitch indeed, it is liable to come loose if you leave the work unattended for more than a few minutes, or have to move it around.
Conversely you use a longer piece of yarn to reduce the chance of it slipping out, you then end up potentially getting your current yarn caught on it as you work around.
As you can see, it’s hardly a surprise that I quickly went in search of some stitch markers that were designed to do the job.
The two I still use today are the locking and the split varieties.
Locking ‘Nappy Pin’ Crochet Stitch Markers
These are a bit of an old favourite of mine. I have never had one come undone when I didn’t want it to, so I feel safe in their use on any project, even when it’s reached ridiculously complicated heights.
They come in bright colours so not only are they easy to work with, but when they inevitably slip down the side of the sofa or get mixed in with the toddler toys, I can find them again!
The pointed end of the stitch markers is thin enough that they slide into even very tight stitches. I have in fact even been known to use them to unpick a knot on a couple of occasions!
There are unfortunately a few downsides to them as well though.
They are quite big. So if you are working with a 3mm hook or smaller making a tight stitched toy, they stick out of the piece in a way that is kind of annoying.
In addition to this, although the point is small, they widen down the attachment and this can stretch your stitch out if you aren’t careful. So when you finish a row you can remove the marker to replace it further up, and find an unsightly stretched bit of yarn in your otherwise meticulously finished row.
Split Ring Crochet Stitch Markers
Split ring crochet stitch markers are my latest attempt at solving the stitch marking situation, and I must say I was a little disappointed.
They do solve the problem with stretching out stitches. The split ring is wide, but flat. So once it has slipped through the loop you can lie it at the side of the stitch without it becoming misshapen.
Unfortunately, the downsides are ones that I’m not sure I will bother to keep working against when I have other options.
Surprisingly, they fall out of the stitch. I did wonder whether I had a duff batch on my hands when first this happened, but I have had the same issue on several occasions now.
I also find that the open end of the marker gets caught when you have made your round of the circle. No the end of the world, but an irritation you don’t need when caught up in the repetition that crochet routinely involves.
How to Mark your Crochet Stitches
This is actually a tricky one.
If you are looking for a stitch marker, for a blanket or soft furnishing, go with the locking nappy pin style stitch marker. The smallest and brightest you can find. It might stretch out a stitch occasionally, but you can reduce the chances of this happening by not pushing them too far onto the bar, and using your fingers to keep the tension very tight as you put the next few stitches on your hook.
If you need the pristine look for a tight toy for example, then use the split ring stitch marker. Just be careful to watch for it slipping out – if it falls all the way out without you noticing, it’s so neat that you will have a job working out where to pop it back in…
There is no perfect stitch marker that I have found so far, but rest assured that when I do, you won’t be able to shut me up about it!
What do you use a stitch marker, if anything? Why not let us know in the comments box below!