I do a lot of lace knitting. I also knit a lot of fairisle. Both types of knitting are characterised by repetitive patterning across each row, typically following a chart to use the correct lace stitch or colour. On any one row, one may be required to repeat a specific sequence of stitches 20, 30, or more times, and keeping track of where you are in the pattern can be difficult without some assistance. I use stitch markers to help me work such patterns.
There are many kinds of stitch marker available, from a short length of coloured yarn twisted into a loop to an elegant silver charm. I have bought a few markers in the past, but when I realised how simple they were I decided to make my own utilising my jewellery making experience and skills. I had been sorting through my jewellery box with a view to pruning my collection of cheap and cheerful earrings, when I had a lightbulb moment – dismantle the earrings, attach them to new 8mm silver jump rings, and turn them into stitch markers. This worked surprisingly well, each pair of earrings yielding 7 or 8 markers. My hubby applied his electronics soldering skills to close the gaps on the jump rings, making them perfect for trouble free knitting.
My idea had been successful, but I wanted (and needed) more markers for large complex shawls, so I again raided the jewellery box, this time looking at old unworn pendants and charm bracelets. Mum and I each had a charm bracelet back in the 1960s, when such things were fashionable, but neither had been worn in decades. Some of the charms, such as the silver scooter, were too spiky to be useful in knitting, but most of the others were perfect. I cleaned them all in silver polish, and made them up as for the cheap earrings. They are great to use, but I was unprepared for the emotional side effect. Each time I used one of the silver charms or pendants, it triggered memories of mum, of my childhood, our holidays, celebratory meals out.
In use on my latest shawl is a filigree ball, a St Christopher, a pair of engraved teardrop earrings, and half a dozen silver bracelet charms. Every one brings back strong memories and adds an extra dimension to my knitting. I am literally knitting with memories.