Learn how to count knitting stitches in both in progress and completed knitting projects with these easy tips.
Keeping track of how many stitches you have knit in your knitting project is really important. And it can also be really confusing. Especially when you lose track of where you are. We have all lost track of how many stitches we have knit in our project and it’s so frustrating. So today we’re going to chat about how to count knitting stitches so your projects turn out awesome!
By far, the easiest way to count knitting stitches is to keep track as you go. If I need to count knitting stitches, I will often count them in my head and make a note on a piece of paper if I need to stop. Of course that’s often easier said than done and we get interrupted or forget. So here are some other ways to count knitting stitches on your work in progress:
How to count knitting stitches as you go
- Make marks on a piece of paper. Marking each individual stitch would be difficult but you can mark every 10 stitches or every stitch pattern repeat if that’s helpful
- Place stitch markers. Place a stitch marker every 10 stitches, or every 5 stitches or any other interval that works with your pattern (for example if there is a pattern repeat of 8 stitches, place a marker every 8 stitches). Then slip these markers as you work, keeping them in the same place on every row. That way you can easily count your markers and know how many stitches you have knit!
- Use an app. There are apps for counting knitting and while most people use them for row counting, you could also use them to keep track of stitch repeats.
The easiest way to count knitting stitches
The easiest way to count knitting stitches on a project that is currently in progress, is to count the live stitches on your needle. It’s very easy to see each individual stitch on the needle and count them. And yes, you do count a yarn over on the needle as one stitch (because it will become a real stitch in the next row).
Take a look at my example, I can easily count how many stitches I have already knit on this row by counting the stitches on the needle. In the bottom half I put a red mark over each stitch I have completed on the right needle. I have knit 14 stitches so far in this row.
How to count knitting stitches – later
Of course, sometimes we need to count knitting stitches after a project is complete. The main reason you would do this is to check the measured gauge of a project or swatch. Check out my guide on knitting gauge and my guide on how to make swatches for more info.
But to sum it up, to count knitting stitches on a finished piece of knitting, choose one horizontal row of stitches (it may help to place a ruler or straight edge down so your eyes don’t wander) and count each stitch by touching it with the tip of a knitting needle or your finger.
Of course what an individual stitch looks like will differ depending on the stitch pattern so let’s look at a few examples:
How to count knit stitches – Stockinette Stitch
Stockinette stitch is easy to count. Each individual V-shape is one stitch like this:
You need to choose one horizontal row of stitches, it may help to line up a straight edge under one row to help you keep track. This is one single row of stitches:
I find it easiest to literally touch each stitch with the tip of a knitting needle so my eyes don’t stray. Then count away! As you can see, this row has 24 stitches:
How to count knit stitches – Garter Stitch
With garter stitch, the stitch pattern you primarily see are the purl ridges, that makes it a little bit harder to count. Here is one single row of garter stitch:
The horizontal ridges you see in garter stitch are actually just purl stitches (since purl is just the backside of knit). One stitch is made up of two little horizontal loops sort of in a z shape like this:
Here is how the individual purl stitches make up one row of garter stitch (the first stitch on the left is kind of wrapping around the side, but it’s there):
But since counting those z-shapes can be kind of difficult, I find it easier just to count my pointing the tip of my knitting needle at just the bottom loop of each stitch like this:
Count each of those as you go across one horizontal row of garter stitch knitting. You can see, this row has 24 stitches!
How to count knit stitches – Ribbing
Ribbing can be tricky because often the purl columns of knitting appear recessed and are difficult to see. If you are counting 1×1 knitting, each column of V-shaped knit stitches is one stitch and the space between columns is the next stitch. Here is what that looks like:
You can’t really see the second stitch, but you know it’s there. The easiest way to count 1×1 ribbing is to count the knit stitches and multiply by 2, like this:
This swatch has 18 knit stitches visible in a single row. Multiply that by 2 and you know the swatch has 36 stitches total in a row.
If the ribbing has a different pattern, count by multiples. For example, for this 2×2 ribbing, each column of v-shaped knit stitches is 2 stitches and each space between columns is 2 more purl stitches.
In this case you can see the purl columns a little bit, so you can count by 2, stitches for each knit column, 2 stitches for each purl column. This swatch has 40 stitches in a row.
How to count knit stitches – other stitch patterns
It can really be tricky to count knit stitches for other stitch patterns. Take a look, for example, at this seed stitch. We know that seed stitch is alternating knit and purl stitches. I personally find the purl stitches to be the most visible so in this case, I could count those:
This row is alternating k1, p1, so I count the purls and multiply by 2 for a total of 24 stitches in that row.
If you are trying to a more complicated stitch pattern, look for pattern repeats, count the number of stitches in one repeat (either on your work or by looking at the pattern) and then multiplying.
What do you think, do you know how to count knitting stitches, now? I looked at a lot of guides for this kind of thing and no else really goes into this much detail but I know, when I was learning to knit, I really would have benefitted from someone explaining it like this to me, so hopefully it helps!
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