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Beginner Knitters: How to Count Rows

A row of knitting is when all stitches on your knitting needle have been worked. Many of my students refer to them as a line of knitting. If you have 20 stitches on your needle and you knit or purl them all so they are now transferred from your left hand needle to your right hand needle - that is a row completed. Hooray!

One of the most common questions I get asked by my students is how to count rows, so let's break it down with some nifty little graphics I made for my Pinterest page to demonstrate.

Starting with a Garter Stitch swatch (when you knit every stitch and every row) let's count rows...

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Each 'ridge' in garter stitch represents 2 rows. These ridges, by nature of the stitch pattern gather together, masking the 'hidden' row. Next time you have a garter stitch swatch to hand, gently stretch it apart and you will find rows of 'V's in between each 'ridge'. So to count rows, you simply count each ridge as marked above and count them as 2s.

Now let's look at a Stockinette Stitch swatch (when you knit and purl alternate rows, you have a knit side and a purl side). We are going to use the Knit side to count rows as it is the clearest perspective to work from.

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The first thing we need to identify is the column of stitches we are going to use. It is very easy when looking at a knitted swatch to lose focus and be overwhelmed by all the stitches. So take a breath, focus in on one column, like I have marked on the image above.

Next we are going to identify the individual knit stitches, I call them Vs. Some of my knitting students call them Arrowheads, some Waves...whatever works for you assign them a name so you can identify them in a way that speaks to you.

Once we can see them, we can count them. I use a glass-headed pin often and put that in the bottom of each 'V' to single them out from each other and I simply count from bottom to the top.


Every stitch pattern has its own challenges in identifying the stitches and rows but take a breath, isolate a section and familiarise yourself, breaking the fabric down and before you know it, it will all come into focus.

You can find short video tutorials on how to count rows in both stitch patterns on my Pinterest Page and I will add them to the tips and tricks YouTube page soon too.

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