Gemstone of the Month: Rock Crystal

April’s birthstone (in the precious stone range) is the diamond, but diamonds are not everyone’s cup of tea, nor within everyone’s budget. But you can give as a gift a lovely clear sparkly stone that is affordable and pretty without taking out a second mortgage: the rock crystal.

This macrocrystalline form of quartz is named crystal from the Greek word for ice, as it was believed that rock crystal was eternally frozen. It’s chemical composition is silicon dioxide, with no other chemical additions to give it colour. It is found all over the world, but the most important deposits can be found in Brazil, Madagascar, the USA and the Alps.

At Granary Knits, we have recently been adding some rock crystal items to the shop.

A single stitch marker, made from a rock crystal bead which has a lovely crackled interior, is available as both a knitting and a crochet marker.

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A set of clear rock crystal marker are a welcome addition to the range of gemstone stitch marker sets currently in store. This set features five markers with three, four, or five crystal chips.

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And finally, some smooth clear nuggets of rock crystal fashioned into beautiful earrings.

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Spring is Finally Sprung!

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To celebrate the arrival of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, I have been designing some more spring-like stitch markers, and they are now available in store.

First, the Spring is Sprung set of knitting or crochet markers. This set of five features glistening golden beads, the colour of daffodils waving in a balmy breeze (currently here in West Yorkshire it is about +2 degrees Celsius, but I can dream!), and a lovely banded agate marker in the colour of purple crocuses. There are also plenty of charm markers – a sweet bird with a big heart, a cute rabbit peeking through his paws, a Tibetan silver flower bud about to open, and a graceful tulip.

Spring is Sprung
Spring is Sprung

Apart from the golden bead and bird charm, these markers are also available as single markers.

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April will soon be here, and April’s birthstone is the lovely Rock Crystal. As well as a single marker and a set of markers, I have also added a pretty pair of rock crystal nugget earrings. Beautifully polished and light-catching, these earrings are just perfect as a birthday gift.

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Finally, a new line in Jewellery for your Knitting and Crochet – stitch marker holders. I do send a small free cloth bag with each order, to keep your markers safe, but a clip to hold them all together is a welcome addition to my range. I shall be adding to the designs over the coming months, but my first two holders have been listed today and feature either a large feather charm or a large heart with a cutout pawprint. I am always on the lookout for larger charms as they are ideal for stitch holders, so watch out for future shop announcements!

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New Stitch Markers

Today I have been adding to our already extensive range of stitch markers; a new set of six markers, and two styles of single marker are now in store.

The Chess Set of stitch markers features six lovely solid 3D charms in the form of chess pieces, one each of King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Castle/Rook, and Pawn. Each piece is distinctive and rounded, and the set as a whole is available as either knitting or crochet markers.

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The Crochet Queen is a charm I have been looking for for some time. Similar in shape and concept to my existing Knitting Diva and Knitting Queen stitch markers, these markers are slightly larger and flatter with a different finish. The Crochet Queen markers are a delightful addition to the range and I hope will find favour with crocheters; Crochet Queen is also available as a knitting marker.

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Finally, to herald the Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, I have added the beautiful Tulip stitch marker. This is an elegant Tibetan silver charm, gracefully curved and finely detailed. It is available as either a knitting or crochet marker.

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Mother’s Day

Mothering Sunday, or Mother’s Day, is just a month away, at least for the UK; 26th March is the date this year (in the USA it is 14th May). As well as our fabulous selection of jewellery suitable for any occasion, Granary Knits is delighted to offer two new ideas in stitch markers for you to give to your Mum, with love.

The first is a single stitch marker, available as either a knitting marker or a crochet marker/progress keeper. It is a flat heart charm with the word Mother etched on both sides. I think this is a pretty stitch marker, especially for crafters who like to use a marker but not something too big or flamboyant. A quiet heartfelt statement.

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The second new item in store is a set of six stitch markers designed for a daughter to share with her mother. It features glitz, colour, and lots of hearts! The central charm is a split heart, with the word Mother inscribed on one half and the word Daughter on the other; this forms two markers. Flanking this is a flattish double sided heart featuring Mother and a clear rhinestone on each side, and another of the same style featuring Daughter and a clear rhinestone. Finally, two lovely silver foil-lined heart beads in a choice of three colours – a rich red, a medium blue, and a glowing gold. You can have two of the same colour, or choose a combination of any two of the three colours on offer. With each order of this set, you will also receive an extra one of my pretty cloth storage bags so that you can give one half of the set to your Mother in a bag and keep the other half for yourself! The set is available as either six knitting or six crochet markers. If you would like a mixed set (three crochet and three knitting, for instance), please message me for a price quotation.

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Mother’s Day Mother/Daughter knitting markers
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Heart bead colour choice
Little cotton storage/gift bags, made from quilting fabric
Little cotton storage/gift bags, made from quilting fabric

What Are Stitch Markers?

The vast majority of knitters and crocheters go through life never having used a stitch marker. Even if they do need a marker for a project – to indicate a placeholder in a pattern repeat for instance, or to show where a round begins when knitting something in the round or crocheting in a spiral – they are quite likely to grab the nearest scrap of spare yarn, knot it into a little ring and slide it onto their needle or loop it through a crochet stitch.  It doesn’t matter that it is cumbersome to use, won’t slip easily from one needle to the next, or gets inexplicably knitted into the fabric! It is only needed the once and can be discarded at the end of the project.

Old cheap earrings dismantled and about to be turned into stitch markers
Old cheap earrings dismantled and about to be turned into stitch markers

If, however, you are like me,  and you love knitting complicated lace patterns, or intricate Fair Isle designs, then you find you need a constant supply of markers, and the little yarn rings are no longer adequate, indeed they are shown up as the irritating awkward things that they are, actually impacting your creativity and slowing your productivity.image

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Bracelet charms, old earrings and pendants – all get used to create unique markers

I took up lace knitting about eight years ago and immediately found that I had to buy some markers, as the pattern repeats were difficult to follow and the yarn loop markers were inadequate. I bought a set of five markers from my local yarn store, which had imported them from a women’s collective in India. They were fabulous, colourful paper beads made from recycled material, and they worked very well, but there was one small problem; the large ring that slips onto the knitting needle was a jump ring, and with use began to open slightly. It only took a very small gap to occur and my yarn kept getting caught in the ring, and I had to keep stopping and disentangling the yarn before I could continue knitting. I bought a second set, this time online, and since they were specially modelled polymer clay, they were quite expensive – but they were in the shape of chickens so well worth it! I experienced the same problem – the gap in the jump ring eased slightly open and the yarn snagged. So the price didn’t matter, the construction was the issue.

My husband, whose hobby is electronics, came up with a solution; solder the jump ring shut. He did this for the first set I had bought, and when I saw how effective the result was, I asked him to teach me soldering so that I could make some more markers.

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Knitting the Nightsongs shawl using dozens of markers to keep track of the leaf pattern

I riffled through my jewellery box and came up with a couple of pairs of fancy, cheap earrings, the kind you buy to wear on holiday and then push to the back of a drawer when you get home. They were easy to take apart, and each pair yielded six or eight charms or beads. Once attached to 8mm jump rings – and soldered of course – these provided me with a tidy number of stitch markers.

Since then, I have made hundreds of stitch markers, from old bracelet charms and earrings, to new charms and beads found in the stash of shiny things left over from my early attempts at jewellery-making. Most I kept for myself, but some I gave to knitting friends and they encouraged me to try to sell them.
imageSince opening the Etsy store in February 2016 I have supplied stitch markers to USA, Canada, Hong Kong, France, Spain, Denmark, and lots to the UK.

Not content with making markers from charms alone, I now design and make themed sets of markers, around ideas such as Deep in the Forest and Dreaming of the Sea – two of my most popular designs. My customers appreciate looking at and handling beautiful things and these marker sets are beautiful! I have lots of ideas for more themes this year.

Dreaming of the Sea
Dreaming of the Sea

If you have never used stitch markers before, then take a look at my article on How to use Stitch Markers to see just how easy they are to use and what the benefits are in using them.

December at Granary Knits

This month’s new listings feature lots of new stitch markers, a brand new stitch marker set, and some fabulous earrings.

First of all, thank you to all my customers who have bought the Dreaming of the Sea and Sun Moon and Stars marker sets; it’s wonderful to see that themed sets of stitch markers have struck a chord with people in many countries. Today’s new stitch marker set is called Deep in the Forest. I love trees, the stillness in a forest when you can almost hear the earth breathe, the rustle of small creatures in the undergrowth, the earthy smell of woodland after rain. I have tried to capture this feeling in Deep in the Forest, a set of six stitch markers featuring gemstones and glass beads in shades of green, and charms that represent the elements of a forest that I love.

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Gorgeous greens from the Fancy Jasper, Aventurine and glass beads, earthy tones from the Smoky Quartz and the Jasper again. This set is available as both knitting and crochet markers.

There are lots of new single markers, too, some with a 5 for the price of 4 option. Continuing the forest theme, there is a large solid acorn marker and an owl marker. And a stylised tree etched onto a round charm with a reverse stating Save our Planet, a sentiment I’m sure we can all subscribe to!

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Linked to last month’s sea themed stitch markers comes a large decorative dolphin, a beautiful charm, ideal for those who like a larger stitch marker (or perhaps a project bag charm!)

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Another large stitch marker added to store today is the beautiful spiral goddess, a real beauty.

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The final two markers added this week are a pretty combination of charms and gemstones. The Lotus Flower is a popular and familiar symbol and I love searching out new forms of this icon. This double-sided charm has an opening so that a bead can be inserted into its heart. I have used blue banded agate in this marker, with lots more lovely gemstones to choose from if they prove popular!

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The Hamsa Hand, or Hand of Fatima, is another favourite symbol, and I have found a charm which again has a hole in the centre just right for a small gemstone bead. This one feature Lapis Lazuli, one of my favourite gemstones, glinting with specks of golden pyrite. The beads in both the Lotus and the Hamsa are free to move, and turning them is a great way to meditate whilst you are knitting or crocheting.

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New items of jewellery are always fun to design and make, especially those pieces involving knitting or crocheting with wire. And adding gemstones is just so satisfying! The Moonstone Flower earrings were no exception. The pale grey Moonstone I have been using has an exceptional glow in its depths as well as a beautiful sheen. These were crocheted using 99.9% pure silver wire and each earring has fifteen glowing milky grey chips in its five petals.

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The last item for today features a gemstone new to me: Kambaba Jasper, also known as Crocodile Jasper. It comes from Madagascar, and has a very distinctive colour and patterning, not unlike the skin of a crocodile, in fact. As with all Jaspers, it is a spotty stone, although the spots here are rather larger than, say, in Dalmatian Jasper. The main colour is a moss green, with the spots and streaks in black or very dark green. These chips are square cut, giving the earrings a contemporary look.

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I hope you have found something to delight and inspire you in this week’s new listings. Keep checking back for new items, or follow me on Etsy to get all the latest updates.