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The Trick To Counting Rows and Changing Colors Smoothly on Garter Stitch

Liat Gat - Founder

January 22, 2011

Counting rows on Garter stitch is a little more complicated than the "2 rows for every ridge" rule-of-thumb. Here I show you how to be sure of your rows, and also when to switch colors to make perfect-looking stripes on Garter stitch.

Doctor Who Scarf
Do you know the easiest way to count rows in garter stitch?

Making a striped garter-stitch scarf is a fun way to use up scraps and make your knitting more exciting.

Especially if you are a beginner, this will add a small challenge while you are practicing the knit stitch for the first time.

Garter-stitch is the bumpy, double-sided fabric created when you knit every stitch, on every row.

In my last blog post I showed you how to change colors in knitting and how to avoid cutting the yarn for each stripe.

Some patterns, like this Doctor Who Scarf by Chris Brimelow, call for you to knit a certain number of rows before switching to a new color.

On garter-stitch, how do you know how many rows you’ve knitted? The widely dispersed rule-of-thumb states that you should count each “ridge” as two rows of knitting. But it’s not as simple as that.

What about when you have done an odd number of rows? How can you tell? The trick is to NOT count the cast-on row, and to be sure to count the row of stitches that is ON your needles.

Colored Purl BumpsAlso, how can you avoid those ugly, two-color bumps from appearing at random throughout your scarf (like in the photo at left)?

Easy – make sure you only switch colors when the pretty side is facing you.

The following video shows you how to count your rows in garter-stitch, which side to switch colors on, and how to laugh at yourself when you mess up! I left in my mistake on purpose instead of editing it out, to show you all that it’s totally cool to mess up. Everybody’s doing it, man!

Watch the video to learn how I count rows on garter stitch:

How To Count Rows on Garter Stitch - Not Just Counting Ridges
How To Count Rows on Garter Stitch - Not Just Counting Ridges

To count rows on garter stitch:

If your tail is on the same side as your working yarn, you have done an even number of rows.

  1. Point your needle-tip to the right.
  2. Count the garter-stitch ridges, not counting the cast-on row.
  3. Each ridge counts for two rows. If you count 12 ridges, you have knitted 24 rows.

If your tail is on the opposite side as your working yarn, you have done an odd number of rows.

  1. Point your needle-tip to the right.
  2. Count the garter-stitch ridges, not counting the cast-on row.
  3. Each ridge counts for two rows. If you count 12 ridges, you have knitted 24 rows.
  4. Count the row on the needle as the last row. You should have an odd number of rows.

So that’s how to really be sure how many rows you’ve done in garter-stitch, whether or not you’ve done an odd or an even number of rows.

Keep Learning:

If you liked this tutorial on how to count rows on garter stitch, post in the comments!

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