How to Use a Knit Counter

by Marcy Brinkley

Knit counters, also called row counters, feature movable numbers that you advance to keep track of completed rows in a knitting project. While you might not need a row counter for simple projects, it can be helpful when you need to change stitches or yarn colors after knitting a certain number of rows. The devices come in manual and electronic versions, all of which require the user to count rows by tapping the device or using a dial to advance the counter.

Items you will need

  • Pair of straight knitting needles or a circular knitting needle

Manual Row Counter

Step 1

Read your knitting pattern to determine the point at which you want to begin using the row counter. For some projects, you may need to start it on Row 1 and continue advancing it until you reach the end. Complicated projects, however, may require you to reset the counter every time you change colors or stitch patterns.

Step 2

Select the row counter that best suits your project and your needs. If you're using a circular needle, choose a device that hangs around your neck or from your needle with a hook or loop. If you're using straight needles, you may use any type of row counter including a spool-shaped version that slips over the needle.

Step 3

Attach your row counter to your needle or on yourself. If you've chosen the device for straight needles, insert one needle into the hole in the middle of the row counter and push it all the way to the end of the needle. If your row counter has a hook or loop, hang it on your straight or circular needle. Devices suspended from a lanyard slip around your neck.

Step 4

Move both numbers on the dial to zero (00) using your finger or thumb.

Step 5

Begin knitting or, if you are adding the row counter to a project in progress, start the next row in the pattern.

Step 6

Advance the row counter by using your finger or thumb to turn the dial. Some knitters prefer to advance it each time they begin a row, while others prefer to wait until they finish the row. When using an over-the-needle device on a single straight needle, advance the row counter twice every time that needle returns to your dominant hand, suggests Debbie Stoller, author of "Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook."

Step 7

Reset the row counter to zero when you finish with a particular section or when you reach 99, the highest number possible on a manual row counter. For complicated patterns, you may need to reset it several times, once for each section.

Step 8

Remove the row counter when you are finished using it. Store it in a plastic bag, empty breath mint tin or other container and keep it in your knitting bag so you can locate it the next time you need it.

Electronic Row Counters

Step 1

Place the electronic row counter or your smart phone within easy reach.

Step 2

Turn the device on by touching the "On" button or opening the smart phone application.

Step 3

Set the device to zero. Some electronic devices count up to 9,999 rows, so be sure to reset all numbers to zero.

Step 4

Review your pattern to determine when you need to begin using the row counter.

Step 5

Begin knitting. Each time you complete a row, tap the counter once to advance the number.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't have a row counter, make pencil marks on a piece of paper every time you complete a row to keep track of what you have done.
  • Electronic row counters and smart phone knitting applications can keep track of the row counts on several projects at the same time. They can also count more rows than the manual versions. Read the instructions carefully to ensure that you do not erase the memory when you turn it off before completing the project.
  • The row counter only works if you remember to use it. If you realize that you have forgotten to advance it, count your rows visually and reset the counter to reflect the correct number.