3 Stress-Free Ways to Count Your Rows in Knitting

Counting rows can be really stressful. When your pattern says, “Work 20 rows even,” don’t panic. With the help of a knitting row counter or the know-how to read your knitting, counting rows is a breeze.

The way you choose to count your rows usually depends on the pattern. A knitting row counter, for example, is perfect for more complicated patterns while reading your knitting works well for basic patterns that don’t have a lot going on.

Counting rows in knitting

There are a couple of strategies you can use to count your knitting rows, from using a counter to reading your knitting.

Here are a couple smart strategies for keeping track of your rows while knitting.

We’ll help you figure out which one is best for your situation, plus offer a few extra tips along the way!

1. Use a knitting row counter

Clover Knitting Row Counter

When your pattern is a bit complicated, row counters like this Clover Mini Knitting Counter (pictured above) can be really helpful for counting rows. I like to use row counters when I’m knitting lace, working short rows or doing a lot of shaping. Knitting row counters are also helpful if you’re following a pattern that has numbered rows or rounds because it can help you remember where you left off.

There are many different types of row counters out there, but we like this one from Clover for a few reasons. It can be worn as a pendant around your neck so that you can knit practically anywhere and don’t have to search for it each time you want to add a row to the counter. 

You can also add a row to the counter with the simple press of a button, so you won’t interrupt the flow of your knitting. Some counters have turn dials that require two hands to turn the counter, so a simple button like this one is definitely a feature to look for.

This counter also has a lock, so when you finish your knitting session you can lock the row counter in place and know that the number won’t budge, even if the counter is being shuffled around in your project bag.

Bonus tips

  • If you don’t have a knitting row counter, you can always use a pencil and paper to keep track. Just be sure you label the section of the pattern you’re counting so you don’t get confused.
  • There are plenty of digital row counters available for free. Check out our list of knitting apps for a few different options.

Reading your knitting

Sometimes it can be tedious and time consuming to use a row counter to count rows. If you’re working in a basic stockinette or garter stitch, you can “read” your knitting instead of counting the rows with a counter. Here’s how:

Counting garter stitch knitting rows

Counting garter stitch rows

In garter stitch, you have a combination of little ridges and V stitches in between them. If you look at the swatch above, you’ll see a row of garter stitch marked off in black. The tricky part, though, is that in between each ridge you’ll see a V stitch. That V stitch is not so easy to see unless you stretch out the work.

Because of that, one easy way to count garter stitch is to count only the ridges, then multiply by two. So for example, if you counted 3 ridges, then you have 6 rows of garter stitch.

This type of counting works well if the pattern says something like, “Work 8 rows in garter stitch.” You can simply count the ridges, counting two rows for each ridge, without using a knitting counter. It saves time, plus it’s always a good idea to practice reading your knitting. It can help you spot mistakes that you might miss otherwise!

Counting stockinette stitch knitting rows

Counting stockinette stitch rows

Stockinette stitch can be counted by examining the Vs. Check out the photo above. We’ve marked three stockinette stitches in black. One V stitch = one stockinette stitch. The Vs are stacked on top of each other, forming rows of stockinette stitch. The black marks are marking off three rows of stockinette stitch.

To count how many rows of stockinette stitch you have, just count the V’s running up and down. Easy peasy!

Bonus tips

  • Sometimes when I’m counting the V’s, my vision gets a little fuzzy and I lose my spot. To help me keep track, I use the tip of the knitting needle or a tapestry needle to point to the center of the V stitches when I’m counting. This lets my eyes rest and blink without losing my place.
  • If you find counting garter stitch to be easier, you can always flip the stockinette over to the wrong side and count the rows on that side instead.

Clover Locking Stitch Marker

Using a stitch marker

If you aren’t sure where to begin counting your rows when you’re reading your knitting, just place a locking stitch marker (like the Clover locking stitch markers pictured above) near the edge of where you need to begin counting. Locking stitch markers are great because you can lock them in place, then easily move them to another spot if you need to.

Do you have any strategies for counting rows in your knitting? Share them with us in the comments!

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