Counting Rows

As I learned to knit in a rather organic fashion at the age of 5 (so over 50 years ago), my way of row counting when knitting cables or stranded/Fair Isle was always simply to compare my knitting to the chart to “see” what row I was on.  If the pattern was one of, DELETE_tallymarkssay, complicated cables, I’d put tally marks on an index card and hope I didn’t lose the index card.

DeleteOldRowCounterThat’s not to say there weren’t other ways to count rows in the “old days.”  The picture to the right, for instance, shows a British-made 1936 row counter.  (Pic source)  It’s just that my Norwegian relatives truly knit the “old” way.  In fact, I think the most modern knitting apparatus I saw used was circular needles, but even those were the old kind with a cabled wire between the needles.  🙂

There are lots of ways to count your knitting or crocheting rows without resorting to my index card & pencil method.  Here are a few:

Delete_Kacha-KachaDelete_electronicrowcountersMany knitters and crocheters like the hand-held and pendant-style counters that look a bit like something a track coach would either carry in her pocket or wear around her neck. I didn’t like using them and particularly disliked hanging them around my neck.

DELETE_BarrelCounterI tried Clover’s little barrel that a knitter slides onto a needle.  (It doesn’t work well for crocheting.)  The barrel counters also have been Delete_pic_row_countersaround for years, as seen by the picture on the right – the 1950 “Ro Tally” by British company Millward.  (pic source)

delete_abaccasThen there are row counting bracelets.  My first row counting bracelet was in the abacus style.  I liked this counting method, but the clasp was virtually unworkable for me.  Whenever I used it, I laid the bracelet near me and hoped to remember which end was up/down.  Not too practical.

Delete_memorywireI also tried row counting bracelet made from memory wire that I bought on Etsy.  I didn’t find it useful.  First, all the counting beads and markers were the same size and color, which made it near impossible to use.  Second, the bracelet was constantly moving around my wrist, making it difficult to find and move the marker.  Further, several of the decorative and annoying jingly things (I prefer quiet jewelry) fell off during the first day of use.  Lastly, it tended to catch in lace weight yarn.

Something I disliked about both these bracelets is they looked, well, rather schlocky.  Unless it is something made by one of my grandchildren, I never wear costume (“funky”) jewelry.

delete_ringcounterI next gave row counting rings a try.  Here’s The Knitters Helper.  I’ve seen a lot of knitters and crocheters wearing them, but I don’t like knitting with this thing perched on my finger.  Besides, fingers sweat under plastic bands!  I sent one of these to the talented knit blogger Kiwi Yarns Knits, and I think her son had the right idea with it:  He used it to count cicadas.  (Ahh, a Christmas stocking gift idea!)

Then a few months ago I discovered the creations of the talented Kristan MacIntyre, a jewelry design student and knitter.  So you can get a good sense of her row counting ring, I have copied and enlarged a picture that she included in an email to me.  (Besides, my fingers looked, well, so wrinkly in the pics I took of the ring on my finger!)  I am thrilled to have one of these rings on my finger as I write this post.  Kristan’s row counter is wearable, “real” (silver), usable art that I can leave on my finger all day.  I love it!

I’ve decided, however, when the next nosy person offers her/his unsolicited comments about my “unusual wedding band,” I think I will tell her/him Thor is an actuary. 🙂

delete_picture

How do you keep track of rows?

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About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Crocheting, Knitting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Counting Rows

  1. I wear the row-counting ring regularly … It’s unique!

    Sent from my iPad

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  2. I love the look of that ring row counter! … gonna post this post on my KWH facebook page 🙂 ❤ ❤

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  3. Well clearly, then 🙂 you should direct your husband to Kristan MacIntyre’s web page. 🙂 Re the slash & tally marks … there’s nothing like the tried and true method. (That said, I’m finding Kristan’s ring to be easy and convenient to use with the cabled hat I am currently knitting!)

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  4. soknitsome says:

    Great ring and my husband IS an actuary! I use the ‘garden gates tally marks method myself if things are a bit complicated.

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  5. Pretty and useful – an unbeatable combination!

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  6. Vonna says:

    That is so pretty! I would love to get one of those.

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  7. Hi Olivia. Thanks for reading! I’ve only heard the barrel thingies called “barrels” or “barrel thingies.” 🙂 Right now, if I need to count rows I use that beautiful counting ring. Or maybe I just like to have an excuse to wear it. 🙂

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  8. Hey, I’m Olivia. I really like your blog and have been reading it for a while 🙂 I really liked reading this and looking at all of the different ways of keeping track of rows. I use tally marks on any old scrap of paper lying around if I can’t find my…barrel thingy (is there an “official” name for those things?).

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  9. Kit Dunsmore says:

    I’m totally old school: my patterns (whether in magazines or books) wind up with tons of little hash marks in the margins. Messy, but I am a “make it once and move on” knitter, so I know I probably won’t make the same pattern twice. Love the rings; may have to consider getting one!

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  10. Good thing there’s so many different ways (and tools!) for counting rows! >

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  11. tgonzales says:

    I especially love my green clicker counter. 🙂 Thanks for sharing all the options. Hugs, Tamara

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  12. Yes indeed … I have mine on right now! 🙂

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  13. HannahDavis says:

    I love this! I’ve placed an order for one myself and am super excited about it. Sp pretty, and really wearable!

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  14. caityrosey says:

    That sounds more useful as a row counter. You wouldn’t want them to move on their own.

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  15. I’ve seen people using the magnetic board counting method, but seems like just one more big thing to shove in your knitting bag. Perhaps it works best when you’re at home sitting in a comfy chair with the board on the end table?

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  16. Oh I not infrequently do that too! 🙂 >

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  17. Except for the awkward clasp, I like my Ablet bracelet. This silver ring, however, is in a whole other class. (I just love wearing it even if it’s a day where I won’t be able to squeeze in any knitting!)

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  18. I inevitably lost or misplaced my index cards with the tally marks. 🙂

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  19. Hmmm, rings that act like dice – first I’ve heard of them (thanks!). The bands on Kristan’s rings, however, do not “swirl;” one actually has to set them to the number wanted. >

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  20. rthepotter says:

    Like everyone else, I love the ring! Fear I am too erratic to benefit from it though – I have tried 5-bar gates, diagrams, barrel counters and mobile app and always end up realising I missed something and counting every row up from cast on 😦

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  21. GGmadeit says:

    I use my Ablet bracelet, but this ring oh my! 😍

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  22. I like the bobbles though since I use round needles almost all the time I string yarn through them and attach to the work with a safety pin. I just got a magnetic board to lay a chart on where you use a metal bar to read each row. I’m finding it helpful though not so “packable.” Paper and pen still a good bet now and then. Find the thing from England fascinating.

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  23. Wow, that’s such a lovely idea. I usually count my rows by writing on scraps of paper or post-its and then hope I don’t lose them! 😉

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  24. caityrosey says:

    I’ve seen a very similar ring used to substitute for die rolls in games. http://www.critsuccess.com

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  25. Both great ideas! Yes, I too thought the ring to be a necessity!

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  26. I wholeheartedly agree!

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  27. My goodness, that’s beautiful. The woman is a genius.

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  28. I also use a large lined post-it attached to the pattern to keep track of my rows, but now I need, need, need that ring. 🙂 I also make a copy of the pattern so that I can write directly on it as I need to.

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  29. Leonor says:

    Haha! You’re absolutely right 😀

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  30. Judi says:

    Haha, yes that’s the danger!

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  31. If you think about it, is it “indulging” when you get something you NEED? 🙂

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  32. Leonor says:

    After I recover from today’s yarn shopping spree I might just have to indulge in one 🙂

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  33. I love it too … I’m planning on putting another of Kristan’s pieces on my birthday wish list! (I never buy commercially made jewelry.)

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  34. The pleasure is ALL mine … I love this ring! I put it on every morning when I get dressed for the day. After all, I knit every day! Besides, it’s just such a lovely piece!

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  35. I rarely count rows but when I do it’s usually because I really need an exact number, so this ring works perfect. It’s there when I need it; otherwise, it looks like I’m married to an actuary. 🙂

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  36. No credit for the ring idea goes to me; that’s all Kristan! And yes, I too think it is brilliant!

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  37. That’s a great idea. I once tried using the thin Post It Notes but kept knocking them off. 😦

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  38. Whatever works! I just KNOW I’d lose the book or neglect to have it with me when I needed it. 🙂

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  39. Now that is special – inherited from a grandmother! (Have you tried slipping it on a silver chain or thin piece of leather and wearing as a pendant as you work?) I would have put the ring on my birthday wish list except my birthday was the month before I discovered Kristan’s work. 🙂

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  40. Yes, Kristan’s design is, I think, innovative and simply brilliant – at least from a fiber artist’s perspective – especially for people who appreciates simplicity and classic lines. 🙂

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  41. Like you, I am not a big row counter – except for when I need to count rows: complicated cables, especially in the first couple of rows! And this ring is just, well, perfect!

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  42. Verónica says:

    OMG. Love it! What a fabulous find! Thanks so much for sharing. It looks great. (I work for an insurance company so the comment about saying your husband was an actuary tickled me).

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  43. Kristan says:

    Thank you so much for sharing my rings and the lovely review!
    😀

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  44. kiwiyarns says:

    Those rings are gorgeous! I used to count my rows. Nowadays I only count rows as in what row in a repeat I’m up to – I mark the row number with a pencil.

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  45. sindhoooo says:

    Wow! So many ways of counting rows! Thanks, indeed very useful post… And your silver ring is awesome, what a brilliant idea! Hats off to the maker!

    Regards,
    Sindhu
    Tantu
    The Arts & Me

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  46. Klara says:

    I use large Post it Notes stick it on the Pattern, and mark my tricky parts with a pencil on it. No Schnick-Schnack around here!

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  47. Judi says:

    I have a dedicated notebook for row counting – it’s a bit cumbersome but it works for me. I’m trying to get better at counting in my head so I don’t have to keep stopping to write tallies down. That ring is amazing, really inventive!

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  48. streepie says:

    I use a barrel row counter that I inherited from my husband’s grandmother. I don’t stick it on the needles, though, as I mainly knit with dpns or circulars. Rather, the row counter sits next to me as I knit. However, it interrupts the knitting flow if you have to pick it up after each completed row.

    The silver ring goes on my birthday wishlist!!!! (together with a ball winder and a swift 😉 )

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  49. Leonor says:

    Beautiful and useful accessory. This is indeed a clever idea, as I too am not very fond of flashy jewellery…

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  50. That ring has my name on it! It´s both beautiful and very useful… a rare combination! I have never bought a row counter, just because I know I would never use it! While a ring stays right where your fingers are at work, and would definitely be useful. No more tally marking every little piece of paper in front of you 🙂

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