How to Track Your Rows

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The best laid plans of mice and fiber artists.

Sunny, but brisk.

I had every intention of this post being my victory lap regarding my “Say Yes to Pie” socks. Instead, I’m going to switch it up and give some advice about keeping track of your rows.

Why do I need to keep track of my rows?

Very good question. In some instances, you don’t. If you are making a garter stitch or double crochet scarf and every row is the same, you don’t. All you need is a measuring tape. But are you making a pair of something? How about utilizing a pattern repeat of more than 2 rows? Are you adding shaping? These are all instances where you need to track your rows; where you want precision. You could guess or count from the beginning row every time, but this is not precise of efficient.

I will discuss three of the ways I keep track of my rows; this is not exhaustive simply methods that work best for me.

The Paper Method

Honestly, this is the method I use the most. No tech, no fancy tools. Tremendously portable. Just paper (sometimes the pattern, an index card, or a random scrap of whatever) and a pen (or pencil, marker, crayon).
I encounter frequent distraction (I have a kindergartner and a preschooler at home) so I easily lose my place.

I use this method to track my place in a pattern repeat and also for my total number of rows/rounds. I am sure to have clear delineation between the items I’m working on (see below).

Cons: Easy to lose. Easy to forget to mark your place. Your pen cap may come off and leak all over your project (this hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’m aware that it could). If enough time passes, you may forget what your marks mean or which project they are for. I find random slips of paper with row and pattern counts all the time; I have no idea what project they go with.

The Paper Method: My low-tech approach to tracking and pattern writing.

The Stitch Marker Method

I generally use this for socks without a pattern (plain stockinette, ribbing, 2-row repeats), sleeves (straight OR shaped), shaped waists, armhole shaping, button hole placement. With the “Stitch Marker Method” I prefer to use locking stitch markers. This way they are less likely to become lost. I purchased THESE recently; I am happy to report they are working as intended. If you prefer the non-plastic variety: these are the ones I THOUGHT I was going to order (don’t shop at 11:30 pm is the take away). I have used them in both knit and crochet. Although I do not have any crochet projects utilizing them at the moment.

Currently I have them tracking my total rows for a pair of beginner socks. I use them to mark the beginning of the round, but I place them in row increments of 10. This way I don’t have to guess if my socks have equal rounds: I KNOW. I have 50 rounds from the end of my toe shaping to the short row heel, 26 rounds from above the heel shaping to the ribbing and so far 7 rows of ribbing. The yellow marker denotes the first row of my heel shaping. These are teaching socks, so there is a bit more information to read from them than if I was making these from personal use.

Cons: They are a little obtrusive. If they get caught, the might cause a snag. You need a lot of locking stitch markers available. Solid ring markers are unsuitable for this task.

Stitch markers denote both the BOR and my row count, in this case units of 10.

The Stripes Method

Here is where you allow your striping pattern to make it easy to count your rows. It can be simple or complex, but the end result is an easier to read project (than a solid or varigated). This way you can know at a glance exactly how many rows you have.

Other Methods You Could Use

There are dozens of apps and ingenious row counting devices. Yet I always go back to the ways I find easiest for me. If you have an app you love, or a row counter (like THIS pretty piece) that you can’t live without, keep on using it!

Whats your favorite method for keeping track of your rows?


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