staying on track


While there are about a thousand things for one to keep track of during the course of a week (or day for that matter) the most important tracking for me is of the knitterly kind. Where am I? Where did I stop? How long until I’m finished with this monster?

I’ve been searching for a practical and easy way to do this since I started knitting forty some odd years ago and I’ve found some methods are definitely better than others.

For example, while the method pictured above does have the advantage of being completely portable and readily available to just about anyone who owns a pen, it also has the disadvantage of being not quite permanent. It will, obviously, disappear with a good wash-not entirely a bad thing but then the information is gone.

DSCN6606These little barrel-like row counters are quite handy and, in today’s electronic world, quite modest and quaint but not exactly esthetically pleasing, easily lost and have limited storage capabilities (i.e. they can really only tell you what row you are on).DSCN6599These pretty little knitting gems ( from Hide and Sheep) are a handy way to keep track of rows and repeats. The little stitch-marker thingy on the right will tell you if you are on the right side or the wrong side of your work and you can get any number of stitch markers with numbers or letters on them, alerting you as to when you should decrease/repeat/increase etc. I love these little things. They are pretty and fun and sparkly. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to operate this counter/bracelet mechanism. I gave the directions a cursory read then tossed them in a drawer along with the counter. (Don’t bother trying to explain it to me. I’m pretty sure I don’t really want to know.  I’m guessing I  just wanted an excuse to buy something pretty and shoes were not in the budget.)

In the Old-timey world of paper and pens there is a system called “After this row” (pictured below) which can be downloaded to your computer and printed out at your convenience.DSCN6595This is a nice system if you’re completely anal retentive and want to track everything from your needle size to how you feel about your project but, quite frankly, that’s more than I need. I really just want a handy, efficient way of staying on top of my project.

I don’t want to poke fun though, this is actually a very nice system and I think a lot of knitters really like it. You can print out the whole thing for each project and keep all of the info for future reference in a tidy binder or something and, you also have the option of just purchasing the tracking sheets without all the other extraneous (IMO) info. It’s also quite inexpensive and completely portable.

These days, you can also go high-tech and buy a digital system for your cell phone or tablet. I’ve used Jakro Soft’s  “J-knit pro” app with some success. It’s relatively easy to understand, is 100% portable and holds a fair amount of information (including a nice, easy to see, counter and a PDF download option)  and the developer offers several tutorials on the in’s and out’s. It’s also pretty inexpensive as long as you already own the digital device. The down side to this particular app is that all of your pattern info has to be hand typed into the system’s portal and then uploaded to your device allowing plenty of opportunities for human error. Not to mention frustration. Additionally, there’s no highlighter bar to help you see your current row on a chart etc. This app does have some patterns already available and they are good ones too but, if one of the ten million other patterns in the world are what you want to knit, you’re on your own.

The “Knit Companion” is another app I’ve tried (free version only) which is more detailed  than the Jakro app. It has all kinds of capabilities, highlighter bars, row counters, stitch markers, PDF downloads/imports (whatever it’s called, I’m not a techie) , chart cropping and more. This, of course, means that it’s much more confusing upon first look. It’s actually sort of off-putting, if you ask me, but they do offer a plethora of video tutorials on how it operates and a free, webinar that was really interesting. I would buy this app myself because I think, once you know how to use it, it’s pretty much everything a knitter could want. The downside? It doesn’t work on the original I-pad (I-pad 1) which is what I have. I think (check first though) it works on all subsequent versions. I will buy this app whenever I upgrade my I-pad but that’s not happening today. I have to pay the government first.

Until the Hubbs decides he can’t live with my whining anymore, I will stick with my tried and true method:

DSCN6584A spiral bound notebook, an (easily lost) pen or pencil, a highlighter pen and a (usually messy) copy of my pattern. This notebook from Tricksy knitter is my favorite for tracking because it’s knitter’s graph paper which allows me to chart out any patterns that aren’t already charted for me and, besides, it’s got a cute cover.

I also like the paper and pen method for the simple reason that I tend to “think” a lot as I knit and I can easily jot down notes and ideas as I knit along (can’t do that on an I-pad can you? or geez, maybe you can!). Well, I like notebooks anyway, at least until one of the dogs sits on them. It’s not easy to retrieve a notebook from under a 150 pound St Bernard, but then it’s not easy to get an I-phone from under there either.


  1. Hi, just a note…knitCompanion works just fine on the original iPad. It’s only requirement is a minimum of iOS 5

  2. I enjoyed reading your post. I agree about the paper and pencil method and that is my favoured way to remember pattern rows. I have several barrel row counters, one belonged to my mother, (it has a tape measure as well as a counter). I occasionally use that if it fits the needle. I like the idea of the knitters notebook with graph paper.

  3. I didn’t know there were so many ways to keep track of rows!! I use the plastic row counter that doubles as a stitch marker. For support, I’ll use the pen and paper method, if necessary. The only problem with the plastic row counters is that my dog loves to use them as chew toys!!

    That knitting notebook is awesome. I think I must order one… today. 🙂

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