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A Quick Guide to Different Types of Stitch Markers

Even though I’ve been knitting for years, sometimes the knitting supply section of my local yarn store still makes my head swim. The number of cable needles, yarn needles, row counters, and other supplies is overwhelming. How are we supposed to know which one we need?

This is especially true for stitch markers. But like most supplies, I find that I eventually end up owning every type of stitch marker just because each of them works for different situations. I also know some knitters who swear by one specific type of stitch marker for all their needs.

Feeling confused about all the stitch marker options?

Whether you plan on using all different types or just find one that works for all your projects, use this guide to help you navigate the world of stitch markers.

Clover Locking Stitch Marker

Clover Locking Stitch Markers

Locking Stitch Markers

What they are: Locking stitch markers look kind of like safety pins, except that they won’t snag your yarn like a safety pin would. They’re available in regular size or jumbo size; use the jumbo size when you’re working with bulkier yarns so the marker won’t get swallowed into the stitches.

What they’re best for: If you’ve ever tried Japanese short rows, you’ve probably seen some knitters using a safety pin. Use locking stitch markers in place of that safety pin to avoid snagging your yarn. Because they can be easily removed, you can also use locking stitch markers to stop a dropped stitch from dropping even more. You can even use them to mark specific places in your project that you need to measure from, like where you started increasing or decreasing.

Try: Clover Locking Stitch Markers


Clover Stitch Ring Markers for knitting

Clover Stitch Ring Markers

Ring markers

What they are: These markers are simple, no-fuss rings that slide easily on and off your needles. They sit on your needle, unlike locking and split stitch markers that can be locked into the actual stitches. They’re also available as Soft Stitch Markers that are flexible.

What they’re best for: Be warned that this type of stitch marker can’t be locked and unlocked. Once they’re on your needle, you’ll only be able to move them by working to that stitch and removing the ring from the needle. For that reason, they’re best for things like marking pattern repeats or the beginning of a round. Don’t forget to remove them when you bind off!

Try: Clover Stitch Ring Markers, Clover Jumbo Ring Markers for needle sizes 11-15 and 17-35, or Clover Soft Stitch Ring Markers

Split Ring Stitch Markers for knitting

Clover Split Ring Markers

Split Ring Markers

What they are: These markers have versatility. They can be slipped in and out of stitches like locking stitch markers, and they can also sit on the needle like plain ring markers. However, keep in mind that because they cannot be locked, they’re no quite as secure as the other two types of markers.

What they’re best for: These markers can be used for anything that the other two types of markers are used for. They’re especially nice if you want to knit a little faster. Just slip it on and off without fiddling with locking and unlocking.

Try: Clover Split Ring Markers

If you find yourself in a pinch without a stitch marker, check out these ideas for homemade stitch markers using supplies that are easy to find around the house.

Which type of stitch markers do you use the most often?

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I am waiting for the perfect locking stitch marker. I use my locking ones enough that through one project I can snap the plastic on several…..

Amy Pacheco

One of my favorites is a specialty one for stop and go. It’s got two runs together, I’ve with a red bead one with a green one, so you know if it’s an add a such row or a knit only row, etc. Love those!


Why doesn’t anyone mention that the size of a stitch markers used in knitting matters. If your marker is too large it can leave small holes and cause laddering.

Size is as important as type of marker used!


I use regular round stitch markers to mark pattern repeats, but once I started doing more lacework (and using lifelines!) I found that I needed to be able to remove the markers easily. I have the safety pin-type locking markers, but they are so big compared to the needles when working lace, that I finally broke down and bought some split ring markers. I’m looking forward to being able to move them without having to unlock and lock again.


Just watch out for some markers, they can get caught on your knitted piece. For example, the Clover Split Ring has a sharp edge and some of the handmade metal ones.

Christine Jones

I have all that you talked about, so it depends on what kind of yarn and project I am doing, then I decide which stitch markers I will use. I also make my own SM, from my bead stash.

Judith C

I have used all these and some. I don’t like the locking type or the split ones shown here they break very easily. I use either solid or split that are almost like a little spring. I’ve also been known to use bread bag clips (you can write a note on them with a Sharpie) and even little loops of odd yarn.

Catherine Crocker

I just tried the locking markers and liked them because I was able to use a sharpie to identify which was A, B, and C instead of trying to remember which color represented which one! I had previously used split ring markers but found they easily turn on their own and come off, also more than once went to pick up my knitting and inadvertently pushed one off. Grrrr…when it isn’t easy to know for sure what/where it was marking!


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