Learn how to count rows in knitting with standard knitting stitches including stockinette stitch, garter stitch and more!
Learning how to count rows in knitting is really a tricky subject, you’re not alone if this confuses you. The easiest way to count rows in knitting is to keep track of them while you’re working. That’s the best case scenario. But every single knitter in the entire world has lost track of what row or round they’re working on. You tell yourself, “I definitely will remember this is row 9” but then of course, life happens and you don’t.
But before we get to learning how to count rows in knitting, let me tell you some easy strategies for counting rows as you go!
How to count rows in knitting as you go
- Use a click counter
- Use a ring counter ( I wear this on my left thumb and I love it, it has made a huge difference)
- Use an app (there are lots of easy to use knitting counter apps, they can even keep track of repeats etc.)
- Cross the row number off on the pattern as you go
- Write the row number on paper when you set your work down
- Keep track of rows on paper with hashmarks, making one line each time you finish a row or round.
- Place a strategic stitch marker when you set your work down. For example, if I am working row 5 and need to set my work down, I will often place a stitch marker on the 5th stitch on either needle so I can remember where I left off.
But of course, as I mentioned, despite our best intentions, we all lose track sooner or later so it’s important to know how to count rows or rounds by looking at your knitting project
How to count rows in knitting after the fact
There are two important things to know about counting rows in knitting:
- Do not count the cast on row
- Counting rows in knitting is dependent on the stitch pattern that your knitting project is using
I’m going to show you some examples of what I mean.
How to count rows in knitting – Stockinette Stitch
Stockinette stitch is probably the easiest knitting stitch to count rows with. This is the classic stitch we all recognize where one side is all knit stitches and the other side is all purl stitches.
When looking at stockinette stitch knitting, pay attention to the v-shapes. Each “V” is one knit stitch as outlined below. They form vertical columns and all you need to do is count the number of V’s in one column. The second picture is showing you just one column of stitches.
Do not count the very bottom cast on stitch, it may look slightly different depending on which cast on method you use, but here is the cast on stitch from a long-tail cast on. You do not count this:
It may help to place a ruler along one vertical column of stitches in your knitting to help your eyes keep track. In this swatch, when we count the rows, we find there are 27 rows of stockinette stitch. Again, this does not include the cast on or bind off rows.
If you are still working on your knitting and there are still stitches on your needles, wait until you have finished a row and then yes, you DO could the stitch that’s ON the needle as one row. In the sample below, I have knit 21 rows so far.
I do not recommend trying to count rows on the wrong side of stockinette stitch knitting, it’s harder, just flip it over.
How to count rows in knitting – Garter Stitch
Garter stitch is what you get when you knit all of your stitches on both sides. Those horizontal ridges are actually the purl stitches you see on both sides, while the knit stitch V’s disappear in between. That makes counting rows in garter stitch a little trickier.
Again, you do not count the cast on row. Let’s look at a sample of garter stitch. As I mentioned, the knit stitches pretty much disappear and you only see the horizontal ridges of the purls on both sides. That means that means the easiest way to count rows in garter stitch is recognize that for each horizontal row you see, there is another hidden on the other side. This is one single row of garter stitch:
So, to count the rows of garter stitch knitting I find it easiest to count one ridge row and one space between the ridge rows. Remember, we don’t count the cast on row or the bind off row:
This swatch has 41 rows of garter stitch.
Now let’s look at the wrong side of garter stitch. They’re pretty similar so you have to pay attention to which side you’re counting on! On the wrong side of the swatch, the first ridge and the last ridge that you see here are the cast on and bind off rows so you do not count them. So here’s how we would count the rows on this swatch for a total of 41 rows of garter stitch:
If you still have stitches on your needles, finish the row and count that one row of live stitches on the needle as one single additional row. And here’s a trick to help you know if you’re correct (this only applies to projects that are knit flat):
- If the cast on tail is on the right, aka, the same side as your working yarn, you have knit an even number of rows.
- If the cast on tail is on the left, aka, the opposite side as your working yarn, you have knit an odd number of rows.
How to count rows in knitting – Ribbing
I actually think ribbing is easier to count because the stitches are separated. Whether it’s 1×1 rib stitch or 2×2 rib or some other combination. Choose just one column of stitches and count the V’s in that column. Again, DO NOT count the cast on stitch and or the bind off row. This swatch has 27 rows of ribbing.
How to count rows in knitting – Seed Stitch
I actually find the rows of seed stitch easier to count that stockinette stitch because my eyes don’t loose track of their place. For me, when counting rows in seed stitch knitting, I like to count the purl stitches and multiply by 2. Make sure to choose a column where the first purl stitch is in the 2nd row to get an accurate count as shown. If the first purl stitch is in the second row AND the top of the column has a purl stitch then you have an even number of rows and if the top of the column has a knit stitch then that’s just one single additional row and you have an odd number of rows (this is what’s happening in the example below, there are 17 purl stitches in the column: 17 x 2 = 34, plus one more knit stitch on top of that for a total of 35 rows of seed stitch)
So what do you think, does that help? My best piece of advice for counting rows in knitting is to do your very best to try and keep track and count them as you go. It’s so much easier. But if you loose count, hopefully these tips and tricks for counting rows are helpful!
If you liked this, you may also like some of my other posts…
- Craft Project Instructions to Ignore - August 11, 2022
- Garter Stitch Knitting Pattern: Easy How To for Beginners - August 4, 2022
- Adorable Any Age Birthday Hat Knitting Pattern - August 1, 2022