Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Tutorial: Paper Clip Stitch Markers

I've been using vinyl-coated paper clips as stitch markers for years.  At first it was out of necessity.  I just grabbed some while I was crocheting. When that project was done, I tucked them in with my hooks, so I kept using them.  I've lost some here and there over the years, so I thought I'd treat myself to some grown-up stitch markers.

I was shocked to find out that stitch markers cost about 12 cents apiece for about .003 cents worth of plastic.  That's ridiculous.  Especially when I can find vinyl-coated paper clips just about anywhere for cheap.   Even though I'm thrifty, I probably would have just plunked down the $3 for 24 stitch markers, but they had little plastic knobbies on them that would catch on the yarn when you mark a stitch.  Come on!  Couldn't they at least make the edges smooth?

I've decided to embrace my inner cheapskate and add to my paper clip stitch marker stash.  For all you thrifty chicks who want some inexpensive, colorful stitch markers, here's how I make them:
First, I squish the interior loop so it is tighter.
Second, I bend the interior loop so it's closed.
Third, I angle the interior loop so its tip is centered.
Fourth, I bend the exterior end in so it rests tightly against the interior loop.  This works best when I bend it a little too much inside first, then adjust it so it rests tightly against the interior loop.
Fifth, At the point where the exterior end touches the interior loop, I bend the interior loop down a little.

After the modifications, I can hold the end with the interior loop facing down and easily thread the interior loop in/under a stitch.  Because I closed the exterior loop, the paper clip won't fall off easily.

You can find vinyl-coated paper clips in a ton of cool colors and sizes for super-cheap.  I even have some funky striped ones. You could use metal ones, but if you are like me and leave projects sitting, sometimes for months, metal ones could rust and mar your yarn.  I've never had a problem with the vinyl-coated ones, and I've been using some of them for over 10 years.

65 Comments (comments are disabled)

ashley g said ...
I think you're a genius :) That is a marvelous idea!!!
9/5/2006 10:07 PM

isa said ...
such a great idea...
i should use this idea for my amigurumi ...;)
9/6/2006 12:54 AM

Brahdelt said ...
Girl, you are a genius! I've been trying to buy the stitch markers for several months, and used the metal rings instead, but I've never thought of the colourful paper clips!... ^^
9/8/2006 6:13 PM

Emily said ...
Genius! I will have to try this out! I used to use little pieces of ribbon, but they always fell off... which completely destroyed the point of marking where I was :D
9/15/2006 9:49 AM

June said ...
Very clever! Thanks for the step by step modification pics. I was just about to cave and buy a pack of stitch markers, but now I'm going to try this out instead :)
2/7/2007 1:02 PM

Tadiera said ...
Amusingly, I was at work one day and found myself in need of a stitch marker for my crochet. I dug around and came up with a paperclip. :)

Glad I'm not the only one!
2/7/2007 8:38 PM

Very clever idea!! and it saves money. Thanks
5/31/2007 2:16 PM

heather said ...
brilliant! i use paperclips too, but i never thought of bending them like that. that's going to help alot. and lessen my cursing as i crochet. :)
6/7/2007 7:24 PM

chieffa said ...
I love this idea. I actually read this post a while ago, and since then, I have been able to implement this idea several times. It works great!! Thanks
3/28/2008 12:00 AM

j-girl said ...
wow! i have been looking into buying stitch markers, but why bother when you can use a paperclip! i love this idea. thanks for the detailed tutorial!
4/15/2008 2:06 PM

Val said ...
These are awesome! I have so many of the vinyl paper clips at work (law office, go figure) and I was going to plunk out $$ for stitch markers. Not anymore!
7/8/2008 12:06 PM

Cuervito said ...
Great idea!!I really really love it! *_* thanks a lot!
8/9/2008 4:42 PM

Aimee said ...
Very, very cool - thank you! I've used paperclips to mark stitches, but I've never bent them first. This will make it SO much easier!!
10/4/2008 6:54 PM

Lusa said ...
Another useful tip.Thanks for sharing! I have been using clips but will bend them to shape in future.Simple is often best.Cheers.
11/18/2008 8:22 AM

valerie said ...
I have recently got into crochet and have been using coloured paper clips but by just sticking a sharp end in this is a fab way of using them thanks for sharing.
2/20/2009 10:12 AM

SewDelish said ...
Great idea. Have stumbled this for you
6/15/2009 11:38 AM

futuregirl said ...
SewDelish ... Awesome! Thank you. :)
6/15/2009 12:23 PM

Amblina said ...
thanks for a great share! I'll definitely be implementing this in my next project :D
6/15/2009 3:42 PM

Ann Logsdon said ...
That's a great idea. It can also help for those of us 40 something folks who just can't remember how many stitches we did last time.
6/17/2009 7:08 AM

Shanna said ...
I use earrings with the kind of clasps that close. They work great as well, and I always have a pair on if I need them.
6/18/2009 11:40 AM

Lori said ...
Cool, I always just used safety pins but this is much better. Thanks for the tip.
6/19/2009 1:01 AM

Lesley said ...
I've found that the tiny round elastics my kids get with their braces work really well. Any orthodontist will give you a bag.
6/19/2009 11:38 AM

futuregirl said ...
Lesley ... The elastics won't work for crochet because they are closed. You need something with an opening to put them on and take them off. The elastics are probably great for knitting though! :)
6/19/2009 11:58 AM

Joanna said ...
That's so great way to use paper clips! Never thought about it and I knit sometimes too!

you have really nice blog. I had found you through StumbleUpon. ThumbsUp!
6/27/2009 10:11 AM

Anna said ...
I wanted to save money on these silly things and picked up a paper clip at the office, and then I found this site!! Thank you, you are my soul-mate in money saving and invention!
7/28/2009 11:23 AM

futuregirl said ...
Joanna ... Thanks for the ThumbsUp! :)

Anna ... Oh, yes. I'm definitely always trying to save money, even pennies. It adds up eventually!
8/20/2009 9:20 PM

Wow that is so cool! I bought myself some stitch markers, never even thought of using paper clips! I think as I end up losing those markers I'll slowly replace them with paper clips lol
8/28/2009 10:16 PM

Jennifer said ...
Good tip. I've happened to have bobby pins on hand when I needed stitch markers, so I would recommend them as well.
11/25/2009 3:24 AM

Pamela said ...
I had planned to go to Michael's Craft Store. Saw your blog.I was usng small safety pins. I have a container of these paper clips that I purchase from a thift store for 50 cents.

1/19/2010 3:01 PM

reba anderson said ...
I am relatively new to crochet and was shocked to see how expensive stitch markers are. I'm so glad I saw this before I spent money on them.
4/22/2010 10:47 PM

Bonnie said ...
OMG I have been looking for something easy I could use to color-coordinate my increases, decreases, joins on the circular needle, cables, and everything else. You just solved my problem. I already had a large box of these in my office, so I am set for anything. Thank you soooooo much. Amazing idea!!!! Most of us simply look over solution that are right in front of us, you see the obvious.
6/7/2010 12:54 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Bonnie ... Yay! I *do* love that you can use the colors as codes to help you remember specific things. Thanks for the sweet comment!
6/23/2010 8:55 PM

Silvina said ...
PERFECT! I was wondering how could I mark the stitches. I`m starting and have big problems whith patterns because of this. Now I have the solution. I love your page. Save me so many times. I`ll try your bag and send you a photo. Greetings from Argentina!
6/28/2010 5:58 PM

futuregirl said ...
Silvina ... I'm happy I helped you! :)
6/30/2010 1:03 PM

Sara said ...
Thanks, these are way better than hairpins!
8/13/2010 3:11 AM

Patty said ...
Pure genius~ I thought of using safety pins too
12/10/2010 12:46 PM

Sally said ...
Thanks for such a simple, efficient idea.
I really love that your tutorials are so easy to understand.

I made the mistake of buying large paperclips and they don't tend to work quite as well. Perhaps they would if I could squash the inner loop with pliers...anyway, at the moment the inner loop is too large and is stretching my stitches...

so it's off to the stationery department again! :-D
2/2/2011 8:53 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Sally ... Yep. The big ones would only really work for BIG hook crochet. It's always fun to shop for office supplies, though, right? ;)
2/3/2011 1:10 AM

Mary Newhall said ...
I use the same thing. I think I have taken all the plastic ones from work and from friends. Thanks for all your ideas. This site is awesome
8/2/2011 10:01 AM

Ann said ...
I have a mother who have sewn, knitting & crocheting her whole life, and she uses paperclips too, but I cannot remember her bending the paperclips the way you do! Very clever - do you mind if I "steal" the idea of bending and give my mother some "new" stitchmarkers? - I have a small box full of the vinyl-coated paperclips - I bought 1000 striped ones some 20 years ago, and have lost a lot, but bought some 100 in different colours - I remember the green/yellow ones, have black/white, red/white, blue/white and some more... fun gifts!
8/20/2011 8:04 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Ann ... Go for it! :) That's what the tutorial is for. I hope she loves them an appreciates your "bending" skillz.
9/7/2011 11:30 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Ann ... Go for it! :) That's what the tutorial is for. I hope she loves them an appreciates your "bending" skillz.
9/7/2011 11:30 PM

Beth Fellows said ...
Paperclips are the absolute BEST stitch markers - EVER!!

Thank you for sharing your use of paperclips with the rest of us... You are my "crocheting idol" ;oD
10/4/2011 1:12 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Beth Fellows ... Oh, you are adorable! Thank you for the sweet comment. :)
10/9/2011 12:29 AM

Noni~ said ...
Genius!!!! Paperclips are now my new find of the day!! Thanx - I'd been using snippets of yarn but the clips work so much better on the fly!!!
11/9/2011 7:59 AM

Paulette Tremblay said ...
I didn't think anybody else discovered my little secret about paper clips. Great minds think alike Alice. I love the way you did the tutorial. Wonderful job. :)
11/11/2011 2:12 PM

Mia said ...
I also was shocked at the cost of stitch markers. I don't like buying things that only have 1 purpose. So I decided to use bread bag twisties. They work ok if you first bend the ends back so that the wire doesn't 'catch' on your yarn. But I think I like your idea better. AND the vinyl paper clips come in cool colors unlike the twisties. ha haa
11/30/2011 10:27 AM

Marion said ...
Just discovered your paperclip/stitch marker tip. WOW - love it! Very clever! Thanks so much for sharing.
1/4/2012 8:34 AM

Wendy said ...
thanks! Great idea and appreciate your bending for max benefit notes.
5/9/2012 7:14 AM

Isis said ...
I just use those tiny plastic hair bands in the colors. They work perfect for knitting if you don't have to take them off later! And you can get 100 of them at the dollar store!
5/13/2012 5:41 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Isis ... They would work great for knitting. For crocheting, you'd have to cut them out of your work. But I guess if you have 100, that wouldn't be a big deal. :)
6/30/2012 11:35 PM

Ecristina said ...
Je je i did a long time I did but I took the clip and wrap it as a spiral ^.^
5/26/2012 5:41 PM

Angela said ...
Bobby pins also work great!
6/26/2012 5:24 PM

Joe B. said ...
Can this be done with knitting also? I am in need of stitch markers! :D
7/28/2012 1:22 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Joe B. ... With knitting, having closed stitch markers is best so they don't work their way off your needles as you knit. Any little circle would work. Even tied loops of yarn can be handy knitting stitch markers for knitting. :)
7/28/2012 1:32 PM

Peggy said ...
I don't do much that needs stitch marking, but the reason I found your site is because I am looking for something cheap and simple to hold my granny squares together while I am crocheting them together for an afghan I am making. Not sure the paper clips would work as I would like, but I think some of the comments that others have posted would help: i.e. the twist-ties and the covered hair bands.

Have you got any cheapskate tips for that? :)
3/3/2013 1:54 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Peggy ... Of course! Binder clips solve all the ills that duct tape can't cure: http://goo.gl/hDfq0
3/3/2013 7:50 PM

Nina said ...
Thanks for making my life so much easier! I use these all the time! When crocheting in the round I mark the first and last stitch of the round - no more counting! I also use them for shawls, marking the first, last and center stitch really makes everything a lot easier. Oh, they're also great for locking the last stitch on the hook, before I put the work away. That way I avoid any unwanted unravelling if the hook slips off. Thanks again for sharing this brilliant idea :)
5/14/2013 11:05 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Nina ... You're welcome! :) Thanks for the fantastic comment.
6/9/2013 10:30 PM

airam said ...
I've found your ideas and tutorials helpful.. Just wanted to say thank you
6/24/2013 3:48 PM

futuregirl replied ...
airam ... You're welcome! Thanks for the sweet comment. :)
6/30/2013 2:38 PM

Shelagh West said ...
thanks you you have saved me about $9.00NZ now I can buy more wool instead.
8/21/2013 10:04 PM

Christine said ...
How clever are you? Absolutely brilliant! Thank you!
10/11/2013 11:29 AM

Nilene said ...
I too love these they work great and they are so cheep and easy to make. I never could bring myself to purchase markers because of high park up price. What costs about .10 cents to make they wanted $5.00 for, I don't think so. I used to use safety pins but I love these better because you can remove them with one hand. I also really like using the colored paper clips to mark for different things like start, end, change stitch or for counting.
4/12/2014 9:38 PM
futuregirl replied ...
Nilene ... Using different colors to mean different things is exactly what I do! Green for the beginning of a row, red for the end, etc. :)
4/19/2014 8:39 PM