Shh! I'm counting!

April 05 2011 – thisisknit

We've all said it. We've all lost count in the middle of our work and had to start crossly over. So today's post is designed to help. We can't get rid of the need for counting entirely, but we can make it easier. Let's tackle rows first. Some people find that a pencil mark made on a piece of paper helps, or there's the traditional barrel counter which you move up a number at the end of every row. Barrel counters have some disadvantages, though. They typically don't fit on all needle sizes and they don't work if you're knitting in the round, because they fall off the needle. A modification that avoids both problems is the one in MweaG's counters, which have a lobster claw attachment which can be clipped either to a jump ring on the needle or to the fabric itself. How clever! If you're looking for a counter that attaches to the knitter rather than the knitting, then the Kacha counter might be the thing. You hang it on a cord around your neck, and click it on one number each time, rather as doormen do with nightclub customers. (You could use a Kacha for this too, but it would need to be a very small and select nightclub.) When it comes to counting stitches and knowing where you are in the row or round, stitch markers rule. You can use plastic markers or loops of yarn, but they all do one of two things: they either sit on the needle, moving along with the stitches and slipping from one needle to the other when you reach them, or they attach to the fabric itself. If your markers are closed rings or loops, then they'll sit on the needle. If they open, like the little coiled ones below, you can easily take them out and move them from place to place. This is useful if you're working on a piece like the Luna Moth Shawl where the stitch pattern moves across the markers. If you don't need to move your markers at any point, though, closed rings work just perfectly. Some of you will remember the monumental cast on for the Annis shawl last summer, all 363 stitches of it. It was much easier if you put a stitch marker in after every ten or twenty stitches, because it's a lot easier to count units of ten or twenty than to count all those stitches. Long cast ons cry out for stitch markers! Stitch markers can save your sanity when you're knitting. But they can also make crochet a lot easier. Closed markers are useless for crochet because there's no needle for them to sit on, but open ones are ideal for marking places you need to remember - perhaps the place you need to decrease or the beginning of a spiral: And even when you've finished the knitting or crochet and you don't need to count any more, stitch markers can act like those little black diamonds in dressmaking and tell you how to align your seams, so your piece looks beautifully tailored. Cunning little things, aren't they?


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    […] you can use a mechanical device like the barrel counters and the Kacha counter that we mentioned in this post, or you can make neat marks on paper. But both of these require you to count the row at the time […]

  • Siobhan: September 16, 2020
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    You had to mention Annis didn’t you…??? It’s making me twitchy again.

    Having said that, adding the stitch markers in during the cast on was an absolute life saver.

    Hurrah for stitch markers!

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