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It’s a fun, inexpensive, and totally portable craft. You can do it!
Besides your crochet hook and yarn, a stitch marker is your best buddy for crocheting!
You want to look for a locking stitch marker, which is a lot like a fancy safety pin.
Locking stitch markers come in a few varieties, but the most important thing is that they open and close! Don’t get fooled into buying those ordinary ring markers that are for knitting needles… they don’t work for us crocheters!
Do you have your stitch markers ready? Let me get you and your new best friend acquainted!
Handy use #1: mark the end of the round
The most common problem crocheters have when crocheting in the round is losing track of where the round starts and ends… which leads to an incorrect stitch count and mayhem! So, I’ll show you how to use a locking stitch marker!
Don’t lose track of your end of round!
I don’t tend to use a stitch marker for the first couple of rounds (because there are so few stitches per round), but I usually start at the end of the third round (here, I’m crocheting the snout of the cow, but many circles begin similarly):
Since I crochet through the back loop only the front loop is available to hold a locking stitch marker.
Close it up, and keep crocheting!
I know I’m finished with my next round when I’m just above the stitch marker, like this:
Then I can move the marker and start my next round. No confusion!
Handy use #2: counting how many rounds you’ve done
A lot of amigurumi are made by crocheting in the round. When teaching classes, I’ve noticed that counting rounds is something that gives a lot of crocheters trouble… I mean, who wants to count every stitch? I’ll show you how a locking stitch marker can help you in counting rounds.
Let’s do a little example.
I’ve been following my pattern instructions for the first three rounds, and now my pattern says:
Rounds 4-6: sc in each st (18)
How can we do this without counting?
I take a locking stitch marker (the orange thing in the photo above), and lock it onto the last stitch of the round. Then, I’m just going to keep crocheting around and around until I’m exactly 3 rounds above my marker!
Check out the photo above… and you’ll also see why I prefer crocheting through the back loops- each round leaves behind a little horizontal ridge that makes each round super-easy to count!
Handy use #3: position your pieces for attaching
Attaching pieces can be a little tricky, too… but stitch markers can help! So, let’s look at some instructions that say, ‘attach legs to rounds 9-14’.
What you want to do is find out where round 9 is, and place a locking stitch marker there. Start counting (see the ridges?) from the center:
Count until you’re at round 9, and place a marker. Place another at round 14. Now you know where your leg should be located on the body!
Handy use #4: hold pieces while seaming
So now you’ve marked where your pieces should go… but locking stitch markers have one more great use: I use locking stitch markers to hold my pieces in place while I’m sewing pieces together!
They’re big enough to go through a couple layers of crochet fabric, and by placing a couple around the piece that you’re attaching, and it’ll be held in place- making your sewing even easier. Yay!
I’ve been showing you lots of examples of circles… but this exact same trick can be used when assembling a sweater or afghan blocks! It keeps everything nice and even!
Handy use #5: keep your work from unraveling when you travel
Throw your crochet into your bag, and you’re just one snag away from all of your work coming undone. Eep!
But not with a stitch marker!
Put your locking stitch marker through the loop when you’re done… and it can’t unravel even one stitch! Fabulous!