You haven’t been knitting long enough if you’ve never had to hold your stitches. And when you finally do need to, you might not be having any stitch holder in your kit. So, it doesn’t hurt to learn how to improvise one.
For beginners prone to dropping stitches, a stitch holder is a handy tool for holding dropped stitches in place until you can fix the mess. It prevents your work from becoming undone before you can intervene. A lock stitch marker usually does this job.
You could also misplace the ones you already have or just forget to pack one when the urge to go knitting at the park comes calling. Well, you don’t have to run to your favorite craft store, order stitch holders online, or abandon your project.
You can make or improvise your own stitch holders!
But what are the best knitting stitch holder substitutes? The best knitting stitch holders are visible against the yarn, smooth, and long enough to hold the number of stitches you need. Common substitutes are safety pins, paper clips, thread/yarn, repurposed and reshaped jewelry, wooden skewers, or unused knitting needles.
In this post, we’ll enlighten you (and any crafter averse to buying things they can actually make) on the everyday stuff that makes great knitting stitch holder substitutes.
7 Ordinary Things That Make The Best Knitting Holder Substitutes
What is a knitting stitch holder anyway? A knitting stitch holder is a small yet indispensable tool in the shape of a safety pin that makes a temporary holding place for open stitches that need to be set aside. These can then be picked up and rejoined into the pattern much later.
Most patterns, particularly for sweaters and mittens, call for the use of a stitch marker. You might, however, find yourself missing this handy tool just when you need it the most, especially for knitters who like to keep things pretty basic.
But what do you do when you misplace a stitch holder, or simply don’t have one?
You make one!
We’ll give you a few ideas of the everyday things you can use to hold knitting stitches instead of a stitch marker, but you’ll probably come up with your own as well.
Whether you go with our suggestions or have your thinking bulb shining bright with creativity, just ensure your chosen substitute satisfies these four things:
- It is highly visible, preferably in a color that will contrast against your knitting color(s).
- It is smooth in texture so that it won’t snag, fuzz, or snap the yarn.
- It is the ideal length to hold the many stitches you need to put aside and the right thickness to go through the loops effortlessly.
- It closes or at least curves in a way that stitches are unlikely, or unable, to fall off.
With that in mind, here are our best substitutes for knitting stitch holders:
1. Safety Pins
Safety pins are every girl’s must-have tool in the purse or wallet. They’re good for more than just avoiding any embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions! You can pull one out any time because they make excellent stitch markers.
Oversized safety pins make better stitch holders if you want to accommodate a lot of stitches. But again, the size really depends on how many stitches you need to hold. A small one, or several small ones, can do too.
2. Paper Clips
Have some big paper clips in your stationery? They are super flexible, and thus are excellent candidates for crafting a stitch marker out of. You only need to unbend and straighten, and then bend them into the desired shape resembling a stitch marker.
Be sure your paper clip is of superior quality so it won’t break. Any sturdy yet malleable cable or metal wire can also do if you don’t own paper clips.
3. Repurposed Old Jewelry
You can upcycle your old jewelry into knitting stitch holder substitutes – as long as you don’t mind snapping them. You will also probably need a small jewelry plier or all-purpose pliers somewhere to retwist it into a stitch marker shape. It’s always handy to have a variety of pliers on hand, like this adorable plier packet.
Beading wire from old earrings and bracelets is perfect. Leftover jewelry wire can also be wonderful. Hoop earrings can also hold stitches nicely. So do old brooches and do not need any kind of structural modification.
4. Embroidery Floss
Embroidery floss that is shiny, bright, and contrasting to your yarn choice will make a lovely stitch holder. If you have some, just cut a piece, thread in the stitches you want to hold, and make a loop with a sliding knot.
5. Leftover Yarn
Don’t have embroidery floss? Leftover yarn from past knits will work just fine! It is the cheapest and probably the easiest for you to find.
Again, ensure it is highly contrasting to your project so you don’t knit it up when not paying attention! Acrylic is the most preferred fiber for this kind of job. It is smooth and won’t cause your yarn to fuzz. However, a little bit of whatever is around shouldn’t hurt.
Have a set of skewers saved up for the next barbeque? You can use one to hold your stitches without them sliding right off the shaft. Make sure it hangs so the curved end is on top; your stitches won’t be able to fall off and the skewer won’t be able to fall out that way!
Even a toothpick can do if you need to keep just a couple of stitches. Remember to secure the ends with a stopper so the stitches don’t slide off.
Most knitting needles will do the job without problems. If you have circular needles or an extra straight needle idling around, then you’re in luck!
If you have a long needle you can find a makeshift stopper (you can use cork, rubber, putty or a bead) and use that too!
Up Next: 7 Best Knitting Needle Organizers