How to count garter stitch rows

A step by step tutorial showing you everything you need to know about counting garter stitch rows the right way

So, I assume you are currently knitting a pattern and it tells you to finish a specific number of rows, right? But then you lost track and now you don’t know if knit enough row or not. Well, despair not. It’s very simple. Here’s how to count garter stitch rows:

Garter stitch is a simple knitting stitch pattern that consists of knit stitches across all rows. And each single knit stitch is formed by a single loop around your knitting needle. As a result, counting garter stitch rows is as simple as counting the loops in a column of knit stitches (see picture below).

a single row of garter stitch highlighted so you can count rows more easily
A swatch in garter stitch I stretched out so you can see the individual loops

The problem, however, is that these loops are often quite condensed and it is somewhat hard to see them – unless you stretch them out. And even then – especially if you are knitting with a rather fuzzy yarn – it can be a bit difficult to see. Your knitting probably looks a bit more like this:

a garter stitch swatch knitted in a fuzzy yarn where it's hard to count rows
A more typical swatch knit in garter stitch where it’s much harder to see the individual loops

And that’s why you need to employ a little trick. Two of these loops form one ridge. So, if you look very closely at the picture below, you can see how these two knit stitch loops create a little elevated structure where they meet. And the adjacent pairs continued this ridge (follow the red arrows).

close-up of two knit stitches forming one of the ridges in garter stitch you need to count

And with that knowledge, here’s what you need to do.

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Counting garter stitch rows.

counting garter stitch rows with a project still on the knitting needles

This easy method works no matter if you have a finished project in front of you, your knitting is still on the needles, or even if you are knitting the garter stitch in the round.

Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute

Instructions

  1. Starting on the right side of your work, count the ridges of your project.
    counting the ridges on a swatch knit in garter stitch still on the needles
  2. Multiply that number by two.

    somone calculating how many garter stitch rows they have knitted using the ridge method and a note book
    So, if you counted 5 ridges, you know that you have knitted 10 rows.
  3. Double-check if there is an unfinished ridge.

    a garter stitch swatch as seen on the right side with an unfinished ridge you only need to count +1 for

    If your project is still on the needle, make sure to check on which side the working yarn comes out. If it comes out on the left side, then you need to add +1 to your row count. So, in this case it's a total of 11 rows you should have counted.
    (If the yarn comes out on the right, then you should be able to see a finished ridge directly below your knitting needle.)

Notes

Make sure that you don't accidentally count the cast-on edge. It sometimes looks a bit like a row or its own ridge on the wrong side (like in the picture below).

cast on edge garter stitch

The ridges you need to count are formed by what looks a bit like a dome and a bowl. Neither the cast-on nor the bind-off edge will have these.

Note: This method also works for reverse garter stitch. And once you understood it, fixing dropped stitches should be also very easy.

Anyway, that’s how to count garter stitch rows. Comment below in case you have any questions.

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