Have you ever tried to sew 2 pieces of knitted fabric together only to find that they don’t match, or picked up a piece of knitting and been unable to figure out where you left off? Yikes.
I am a confirmed row counter. Logically, it is easier to mirror the shaping on the back and front of a garment if you start decreasing or increasing on the same row. The same goes for pattern elements like cables. Keeping track of where you are is important enough in an easy pattern, but is imperative in a more complex one. And, trust me, “eyeballing” your work in progress will never give you a perfect measurement!
|Unfinished Dale of Norway sweater . The white stitches on the left are "row counting" stitches.|
When I first started to knit, I remember using bulky cylinders with rotating numbers that fit on to the ends of straight needles. The objective was to advance the number 1 time each time you completed a row. The problem was, I could never remember whether or not I had actually turned the wheel at the end of the previous row! And, I could never get used to the feeling of having something hanging from the end of my needles. The constant uncertainty and the fact that I have not knit with straight needles in years led me to try other methods. I have a very methodical friend who carries a memo pad and writes tally marks down for each row. I know knitters who swear by the invention of another friend, the row counter bracelet.*
|Basting to mark your stitch count|
Simple basting works the best for me. I use a large tapestry needle and a piece of smooth mercerized cotton yarn that contrasts in color with my knitting. Cotton will usually not leave fibers behind and “shed” onto my knitting. I try to use a light color for visibility, and colorfastness. I actually often keep the basting thread in when I wet block my work, although of course I would be careful not to leave strong cotton in if my work was fuzzy, felting or delicate! I attach the yarn at the bottom of my work and use a large tapestry needle because the blunt tip helps minimize the risk of pulling and split stitches. I use the tip of my needle to count up 10 stitches, and run a stitch under the 10th stitch.
|Each line indicates a group of 10 rows|
I continue in this manner until I am finished counting. When I am finished basting, I always re count to confirm that I have blocks of 10. Even though this may seem like an added step, at least I always know that the underarm will be in the same place on the front and back of a garment, and that the sleeves will be the same length. (Don’t ask me how I know this!)
Since I always have a tapestry needle in my knitting bag, it is easy enough to do. And, when you unearth that unfinished object you had forgotten about(blushing!)it is much easier to continue if you know exactly where you left off. How do you keep track of your stitches?