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April 03 2012 – thisisknit

Counting rows has been much on our minds lately. The patterns in our Spring Knit-Along feature stretches of regular increasing and decreasing - "work the decrease round every six rows seven times", that sort of thing. Not counting rows at such times gives you weird sleeves. There's many ways of keeping count - 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 that you knit it. (Hopeless confusion results otherwise. Ask us how we know). There's another way of keeping track which has several advantages. It's easy, it's flexible and best of all, if you forget to check off a row, you can make it up later. Instead of counting individual rows, it counts blocks of them, so it's perfect for keeping track of your spaced-out increases and decreases. All you need is a length of contrasting yarn, a bit longer than the final length of the piece you're going to knit. When you come to the first row you want to mark (say, your first decrease row), just lay the contrast yarn over the work, between the needles. Then you just leave it there and knit on. It sits there, minding its own business, and as you knit on, it gets further and further down. It's easy to count the number of rows above it, and so to spot when your next increase or decrease row comes along. After you've marked a few rows, the contrast yarn will start to look like giant running stitches in your work, just as in the first picture above. When you've finished your work, the contrast yarn just pulls right out. And if you forget to mark a row, why, then poke the yarn through the fabric at the right place and act innocent.


  • Lisa, This is Knit: September 16, 2020
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    Just an update to this post to say that you can, of course, use this method for keeping track of rows even if regular increases and decreases aren’t called for. It would be particularly useful for yarns with a halo, like mohair, when counting rows after the fact can result in lots of squinting!

  • Helen: September 16, 2020
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    Thank you so much for this neat idea, cant wait to try it and it is so easy.

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