I made some easy DIY stitch markers this past weekend.
If you take a stroll through the Instagram #polymerclaystitchmarkers hashtag, you’ll see that they come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll find everything from textured heart tiles to adorable kawaii avocados. There’s a wide variety, but they all have one thing in common: they are all the dangly style with charms hanging off of the main loop.
I might be in a minority here, but I really don’t like that style of stitch marker 🤭
I prefer the simple plastic circles that don’t have anything hanging off of them. Yeah, I know. I’m boring.
So this past weekend, I was settling in for a marathon knitting session (I’m working on a Timber cardigan), when I started to wish I had a less hodgepodge collection of stitch markers. I’ve lost so many markers under the bed or in the couch cushions. The ones I have left are odds and ends from different sets. I had done the best with what I had, but with a more complete set, I’d be able to assign a meaning to each color. That could help me keep the stitch pattern and my raglan increases straight.
And I knew immediately that I could make a set pretty easily out of polymer clay. (And I could make them less boring-looking than the store-bought ones. Bonus!)
I tried to banish the thought and get back to the knitting, but I couldn’t. So, I surrendered to it. And then I made a jaunty little film while I worked. I wouldn’t call it a tutorial, per se, but you get a pretty good idea of what the process entails.
Not a Tutorial, Per Se
After the video, I’ll give you some more details about how I did what I did. Then you can whip some up yourself, if you like.
I made a set of 45 stitch markers using five different millefiori canes. If you don’t happen to have built yourself a library of premade canes, that’s ok. Canes are not actually required. You can marbleize a couple of pretty colors together. You can get fancy with mokume gane, micah shift, powders, glitters, alcohol inks, metal leaf, or whatever it is you do with polymer clay.
And if you don’t do anything with polymer clay at all, you can certainly buy yourself a couple of favorite solid colors and use those. (Might I suggest the dreamy new mint green from Sculpey Premo? It’s swoon-worthy.)
I cut thick slices from the canes, and ran them through the pasta machine to even them out. Essentially, you want a slab, only 1mm to 2mm thick, that you can cut from. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can use a roller or an untextured drinking glass turned on its side.
To cut the circles, I used round Kemper Cutters, but I could also see making them square or triangular, if you want to have something other than color with which to distinguish your markers from each other. I am not 100% sure, but I believe I used the 1/2″ cutter for the outer circle, and the 5/16″ cutter for the inner circle. But it doesn’t really matter. You should choose an inner circle size that will fit over your most common needle sizes, and then an outer circle size about 1/4″ or 4mm bigger than that.
First I used the larger cutter to cut out nine circles, since that’s how many fit comfortably on my cane slices. You can cut as many as you need or want.
Then, I used the smaller cutter to make a hole in the center of the large circles.
And finally, I baked the stitch markers on deli paper, according to the package directions. I like to use deli paper instead of a ceramic tile, because clay can pick up shiny spots when baked on tiles. The paper keeps the finish nice and even.
They didn’t take too long to cool off after baking, being so delicate. I pretty much slipped them on my needles and started using them right away. I like them a lot, and hopefully I can avoid losing the majority of them under the bed or in the couch cushions 😁
I would suggest, whatever surface design you decide to go with for these, that you keep that pattern small-scale. You don’t have a very big canvas on a stitch marker and anything too flamboyant will just be lost.
If you are planning to decorate a slab with pattern, don’t forget the back of it. Both sides are going to be visible.
Make sure you are using a strong clay. I wouldn’t recommend Sculpey III, for instance, because it’s too brittle and your stitch markers could break. Premo, Fimo, Kato, Cernit… whatever professional-grade clay you can get your hands on during these days of polymer shortages, should do.
If you end up making your own stitch markers, please share. I’d love to see them! ⭕⭕⭕