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How to Become an "Expert Knitter"   *Buy this book on CD for offline reading!

table of contents Ľ chapter 9 (of 29)

9: Counting

I have already
mentioned that you should count the number of rows when working the bands, (see here) but that is only the tip of the iceberg.

You should count rows and stitches until the last stitch of the last row has been knitted. Use a pad or pencil, or jot the numbers on your pattern.

The number of rows to be joined to each other must match if the garment is to hang and fit properly, however simple or elaborate the finished garment. This goes for cuffs, body, sleeves, neck, skirt, everything.

Many patterns state the number of stitches to be cast on and how to knit them, and then directions to work a certain length, either inches or centimetres. If this is the case, work to that point on the first piece and count and note the number of rows. Then you will know the number of rows you must work on the corresponding piece or pieces. The number of rows between hem and armhole must match. The number of rows from armhole to shoulder must match, or the sleeves wonít fit in properly. The number of rows in a sleeve should match or one sleeve will be longer than the other.

If you donít count, you could easily measure or pull the knitting differently every time you finish a section. It is very tempting to stretch the knitting just a little bit to finish that boring sleeve and get it over and done with, but extra rows on one piece canít hide. They are extra length. One sleeve will be down to your knuckles and the other will sit at your wrist.

Extra rows on the back of a garment will mean that it will hang down at the back. Thatís good if you have intentionally shaped it to do that, but it is a problem if it is just from having too many rows. The reverse will mean that the front will be long and the garment will ride up at the back.

Joining mismatched pieces together is easy if you just pin them and work a backstitch seam from one point to another. The seam is cobbled together, but the extra rows donít disappear. They show up in wear, sagging or hanging in the wrong places and also are obvious as buckled seams.

If you donít count rows and are working in stripes or a pattern sequence, you could find that you will finish sections at different places.

Counting the number of stitches is also vital. Donít stop and count, just count as you knit every few rows, or use a stitch counter and be very diligent about it. Keep counting as you knit and you will quickly notice a dropped stitch or two stitches where there should be one. Knitting with furry, loopy yarns can be a counting problem if you canít see the stitches. Scarves are the hottest thing for knitters at the moment, and the lumpier and hairier the yarn, the better. Because the yarn construction hides the shape of the stitches, scarves turn to triangles as stitches are dropped and disappear in the yarn. If extra stitches are picked up in the wrong spot, the knitting will grow wider than it should be. The easiest step you can take to help you count the number of stitches is to use light coloured needles if you are using a dark yarn and dark coloured needles when using a pale yarn [pic 1].

1: This yarn is dark and shaggy and can barely be seen for counting, but you can easily see how many stitches you have because the needles are a contrast colour.

If you do detect a dropped or extra stitch quickly, you will have less rows to undo (see here). If you canít see the mistake, hold the knitting against the light and you should be able to spot it. Donít pull at the work, because a dropped stitch could turn into a ladder. Another way that often works is to look at the knitting in a mirror. Donít know why it works, it just does for me.

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