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In a Pinch? Use Everyday Objects for Crafting Accessories!

August 8th, 2012

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Make Everyday Objects into Yarncrafting AccessoriesWe’ve all been there: you’re happily working through your pattern, then you reach for your stitch holder and realize that you don’t have one in your bag. Never fear! There are plenty of everyday desk and office supplies that you can use for a quick fix. Here are some common households items and how they can be used in crafting.

Paperclip: This is one of the most versatile tools you can have! It makes an excellent stitch marker as is, or you can unbend it to create a cable needle or double-pointed needle. Drop a stitch in your knitting? No problem! Just unbend the paperclip except for one end to create an emergency crochet hook.

Binder clip: Need to keep project pieces together for seaming but don’t have any pins handy? Binder clips will keep your project together as you’re seaming.

Rubber band: Snip into small pieces to create custom-sized stitch markers. For a stitch holder, just cut one end, then thread the band through your stitches. Tie the ends together to secure your holder. (You can also use extra yarn or string for these!)

American dollar bill: If you’re trying to measure your work and forgot your tape measure, reach for your wallet! American currency is 6.14 inches long, so you can easily use a bill to estimate measurements. (You can also use a standard piece of printer paper to estimate; the normal size is 8.5 inches by 11 inches!)

Do you have any other ideas on how to turn common household items into emergency yarncrafting supplies? Share your ideas in the comments!

  • http://www.facebook.com/linda.schaeffer.5 Linda Schaeffer

    I have never bought a stitch marker in my life.  My go to stitch markers are small gold safety pins.  I carry mine in an empty Sucrets box.  I must admit, I have been using most of the same pins and the box since 1979, but they are still with whatever project I am working on and they are still usable.

  • Mollyv

    I use colorful tiny rubber bands that I buy at the Dollar store. They come a zillion to a package for $1. No problem if I misplace a few of them.

  • Pharmgirll

    I have cut a drinking straw into tiny pieces and used for stitch markers.

  • NancieT

    When traveling, I carry straws in case I run into an over zealous TSA employee.  

  • Johann Mitchell

    For measuring things, I’ve measured my hands in different places. With all of my fingers spread as wide as possible, it’s almost precisely 8 inches from the tip of my thumb to the tip of my pinky. It’s 3.5 inches across my palm, and about 4 inches if I add my thumb next to it. 

    When I’m making something a specific length and get close to the measurement, I measure to either 4 or 8 inches short of the end and place a moveable stitch marker (the plastic ones that look like a squashed safety pin). Then, I use my hand to measure the remainder. Then, when I’m close to the right measure, I confirm it with the tape measure. It usually eliminates about 10 measurements with the tape.

    When I’m knitting something like a scarf, I place a marker where it’s about half the total length. Then I can just fold it at the marker to see how close I am to the end. For a scarf, I don’t usually bother to confirm with a tape measure. Who’s ever going to notice if it’s an 1/8th of an inch long or short?

  • BKay1144

    i use the little hair clips you get 12 for a $1 at the $1 store to snap into last stitch when i put my crochet work down so the stitch won’t get pulled out. also use them for stitch markers. you know the ones that snap?

  • Robin

    For stitch markers I use the little colored circles that come with replacement toothbrushes for my electric toothbrush.

    • Pam Lindsey Carlsen

      great idea. I wondered what to do with all those extra colored circles. I also get similar green rings on every oxygen tank I open. They are all over my car as I am usually changing my o2 tank when I am out of the house. I think I will be gathering them tomorrow for row markers, and getting the colored ones out of the bathroom door. I now have a hole set of row markers. The other comment above is right, if you lose one, no big deal. THANK YOU!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/diane.kohn.18 Diane Kohn

    A nail clipper makes a great substitute yarn cutter if scissors are banned or forgotten.  A double pointed needle works well as a substitute cable needle.

     

  • Nan

    I use chop sticks for teaching children knitting. They work great, are less expensive and I don’t care if the children lose them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/crystal.jacklin.3 Crystal Jacklin

    One time I cut up a plastic grocery bag into strips then squares and a slit in the middle of each piece.  I was starting a project with 20 cables and wanted markers for each cable but didn’t have enough.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jill.schulz3 Jill Schulz

    I’ve been told that the space from your thumb to the knuckle is about an inch and you are never without it so I use that as a guide.  I’ve used twist ties to hold pieces together when sewing knitting and as markers.  you can always use a bit of contrasting yarn as a marker—save small bits.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicolelynadams Nicole De Luca Adams

    One of my favorite MacGyver moments was when I was on a trip and it was time to do a sewn bind off and I had lost my tapestry needle- fashioned a twist tie into a needle.  It took a bit longer, but definitely worked.  Far better than not being able to get the sock off the needles to start  the second one on the ride home :)

  • Cathy Paxson

    I use a long paper clip to keep track of my place in the pattern.  And I use a post it note to mark my repeats in the pattern.  Still looking for a magnet board for this purpose.

    • Laurpud

      Instead of an expensive magnet board, I’ve used a travel checkers board & strip magnets! Cost was only one dollar because I had the magnets on hand.
      I have a LOT of craft supplies, & my favorite stitch markers are lever-back earrings. They are moveable, sturdy, with smooth edges & inexpensive in bulk. I keep saying that I’m going to embellish them, but I still haven’t (3 years later ;-)

    • Beverly Fleming

      Look in the cross stitch section of your local craft store for the magnetic board.  They are made by Loran and come in several sizes.

    • Stonesinger

       Use a baking sheet/cookie sheet, and add your own magnets!

  • B Mortinsen

    I cannot count the number of stitch markers I’ve lost – now I use rubber hair bands & don’t feel bad when I lose one! They come in a variety of colors & sizes and are readily available.

  • Fourthmonkey

    I teach women to crochet at a homeless shelter. We use plastic bread clips as bobbins/stitch markers, paper clips can be made into needles or pins, rubber bands around the end of double point needles can now be used as short knitting needles, and they use disposable lighters or matches to “cut” the yarn by burning it apart.

  • Knittingnana60

    Paper clips also make good stitch holders for small numbers of stitches — under about 15 for the regular size paper clips and up to 30 or so for jumbo paper clips.  Just straighten the first two bends of the clip, then after putting the stitches on the paper clip bend the end that was straightened inside the remaining bend and over, to close the stitch holder. 

    Another thing I like about using paper clips is that they are so universally available.  When I forget mu cable needle, stitch marker or stitch holder, I find someone working at a desk and ask for a paper clip.   I can’t count the number of places I have asked if I could have a paperclip.  I almost always get what I need.

  • Llamahum

    I got tired of losing stitch markers, so headed to the hardware store, bought a bunch of the small round black rubber washers. If I need to mark spots, I take a few thrums from an old project, buttons out of the button box, and tie to the markers. Bingo!

  • Verona

    Re: using chopsticks as knitting needles, as Nan suggested.  The Japanese ones have pointed ends.

  • Beverly Fleming

    If you have to place several stitches on a holder you can just slip them onto a pencil (used the sharpened end as if it were the tip of a needle).  Put little binder clips on each end to keep it from coming undone.

  • Karen Rambo56

    I use bread wrapper tabs to hold the excess yarn from casting on or changing colors. Also if I am having  trouble getting my yarn through the needle, I use a small strip of paper and fold it in half, place the string in the fold and I have a free yarn threader that does not break.

  • Craftyladyphyllis

    I was knitting a hat on a circular needle and when I got near the end it called for it to be changed to double pointed needles.    I didn’t have any with me at the moment, so I used sharpened pencils and finished knitting the hat.   It worked.

  • Bern704

    I use bobby pins for stitch markers. They go over the yarn easily, come out easily, but hold on tight while in use.

    • Sarah

      Same here… have never bought an actual stitch marker!

  • S-hutch

    For stitch markers I just use left over short ends of different coloured yarns: tie into a loop and push onto the needle. I use an odd colour of yarn for the middle marker or on either side of a cable panel to keep my knitting and my mind straight. If you lose one, just grab another leftover piece of yarn. 

  • Bonnie1959

    when learning to knit in the round my yarn kept falling off the points of the double ended needles, fixed the problem with small ‘o’ rings from the auto parts store slipped on the points not in use, no more falling off stitches!  LOVE that, and they were only about 7 – 11 cents each!

  • Flossie_june

    I cannot recommend the humble paperclip highly enough – I’ve used it for all these purposes, and many, many non-knitting purposes as well. Recommendation: try to avoid dollar-store paperclips. They break awfully easily when you unbend them.

  • Linda Pfeffer

    While waiting in a Dr.’s office, I realized I’d forgotten my cable needle…and used a coffee stirring stick instead, from the “help yourself” table!

  • Patricia_forster

    I use small hair clips (ones with “teeth) to hold my sweater pieces together when joining.

  • Molly_Kitti

    Ziploc bags, coffee cans, or tennis ball cans make great project holders.  Just poke a hole and thread the working yarn through.  I fully agree with everyone who suggested yarn scraps as stitch markers.  In a pinch, I have also used hair bands and I have a friend who uses them to keep stitches on double pointed needles.  I use a smaller knitting needle to hold together pieces of projects waiting to be seamed.  I am also a fan of using multiple row counters – one for stitch patterns and one for total rows.

    • Karey

      I have used old containers too for yarn holders. My favorite is those giant plastic cheese ball containers. Not only are they cheap (or free if you have one leftover from your snack) but they are also eco-friendly because you reuse them. But I take them a step further after I punch out the hole in the lid by adding a grommet because it prevents the hole from snagging your yarn.

    • Pam Lindsey Carlsen

      I use 2 liter soda bottles to hold my yarn that I am working with. I cut off about 3-4 inches off the bottom (over 1/2 way but not all the way through) of the bottle. Put yarn in bottle feeding the end of the yarn through the cap section of the bottle (you don’t need the cap on it. (I use a strip of packaging tape to keep the bottom closed after putting yarn in. I can get 2 – 3 skeins in a 2 liter bottle depending on the yarn and how large the skein is. I have had a few bottles where the top snagged on the yarn. I just used a nail file and got rid of what was causing the snag on the plastic. You can also use smaller bottles like 1 liter bottles for skeins of baby yarn and 2 ply yarn.

      Great to keep your yarn from getting tangled, and also keeping it clean.
      I have rescued abused dogs for 34 yrs, so there is always some dog hair
      around our place heading right for my yarn. I got tired of having dog hair on my yarn and started using the 2 liter bottles back in the early 80′s. Now my yarn stays
      hair free, well until I get my afghans made because then the dogs take
      it over thinking I made it for them. They think everything I make is for
      them. (well I am always crocheting them sweaters so they love the feel
      of a yarn project.)

      My Mom use to ball all her yarn up and she would use a large margarine tub with a hole in the lid. She would make the hole what ever size new washers my dad had in the garage at the time and glued one on the inside and outside of the hole so the yarn wouldn’t snag.

  • frghook

    When my children were small, there was no money for hooks, needles or new yarn.  I took apart an old sweater and broke off pieces of a wire coat hanger, filed the ends, bent one end of a piece and crocheted animals for them.  Knitted hats with them also.  

  • Hind

    I’ve used a bobby pin as a cable needle. I like that it has rounded edges and doesn’t snag my yarn. I sometimes put a rubber band at the tips of my needles when I’m not working on a project to keep my stitches from falling off the needled- my favorites are the small ones that are used to tie hair

  • http://twitter.com/ReCrochetions Laurinda Reddig

    I blogged about using a pencap to crochet a hat for a baby during his baby shower, out of the yarn leftover from a party game… http://rememberingrowan.blogspot.com/2011/08/emergency-crochet-hook.html

  • S. Hutchings

    re: using your hand to measure things I’ve found it very handy (pun intended) to know my hand measurements. To find the right size sweatshirt without trying the dang thing on just space your 8 inch wide finger spread across the chest area. I’ve gotten a few odd looks until I explain: then I here ‘Gee, why didn’t I think of that?’
    Also, when I needed to measure my two nephews for surprise Christmas sweaters, mitt, etc., I made it a game. ‘Look, my arm is so may inches long. How long is yours?’ Sneaky, but it worked.

  • Vicky T

    From your first knuckle to your middle knuckle of your index finger is approx. 1″ (one inch).

  • Lou

    magnet

  • Sharron Atkinson

    TIPS: use a dental floss threader to thread yarn (Dentak* Floss Threader). It’s plastic, small, easy to add to your crochet or knitting supply bag.

    • Pam Lindsey Carlsen

      Funny on Amazon when I ordered the floss threaders my niece uses for her braces, the listing said also can be used as a sewing needle threader. I was surprised that it was right on the listing for other things it could be used for other then your teeth..I ordered a extra box for my sewing kit and one for my niece. GREAT TIP!

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