I cannot keep track of stitches - Help!

Hey guys.

Firstly I would like to introduce myself. I'm Matthew from Nottingham, England. I am very new to knitting and have just about mastered the basic scarf and luckily all the ladies in my family were happy to recivie one as an xmas present :-)

My problem is keeping track of stitches and following patterns. I genuinly think I have a short term memory issue as I can pause mid stitch and completely lose my place. Does this happen to anyone else? Am I just a dunce? Anyway, any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Great site and looking forward to becoming part of the community and learning to knit.

Have a great day.


Bill's picture

Welcome, Matthew,
There's no hope for you!
...we all lose our places..."Post-it" notes help keep track of things on a chart or pattern...and I often write little tags to attach to a swatch so I know what needle size I used...you have to develop a method that feels comfortable. I have friends that write out every line of a pattern so they can cross them off...(too much for me...)..but that's a good question a I'm sure you'll get some good tips...

transvibration's picture

Thanks Bill.

I am glad I am not the only one!

I have just started using a piece of graph paper to record the most basic of patterns. This is working for now but as you say it will get too much as I learn more and take on more technical patterns. I even forget if I have crossed off the right boxes on the paper!

I think I may be better learning how to correct my mistakes more efficiently.

"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us"

Bill's picture

it gets better and easier with experience...once you learn to "read" your knitting you won't get lost as readily...I still can't read lace knitting...
I'm doing a lot stranded charts now...and everything has to be counted...very slow going...

MMario's picture

Learning to read your knitting helps;
as does learning how to correct various mistakes without tinking or frogging.
Many "mistakes" (I prefer to think of them as "differently worked stitches") can be corrected on the next row (or next several rows) without having to go back and re-knit all the intervening stitches.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

teejtc's picture

I do the same thing (I keep trying to convince myself that it's because a 1-year and a 5-year old in the house prevent me from every really completing a thought!)

Here's what I do when I repeated lose my place:
* I have a metal board (like a clipboard) and a few strips of magnet - then I set the magnets right above the line I'm knitting - Then I don't lose my line.
* I'll often put stitch markers every 5 or 10 stitches for short patterns or 25 stitches on longer patterns then mark, on the pattern, where each of the stitch markers are (i.e. between the 25/26 stitches=Red marker... between 50/51 stitches= blue marker..... and highlight that line on the pattern with the same color).

It isn't perfect, but it keeps me on the right row and limits the amount of counting I have to do...

Good luck!

Grace and Peace,

transvibration's picture

Aaaah Markers! This is what I need. I did wonder when they would become useful. I shall try this out. I think a combination of things will be the solution.

Thanks Tim

Mind you, I still think I am losing my mind somewhat, the other day I put my laundry in to the toilet instead of the linen basket!

"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us"

Bill's picture

Matthew, although the markers with dangly bits are fun...I've found they get in the way. The simple rings, metal plastic or rubber...seem to work best. ...and not too large...you want the yarn to slide over them, not snag as you knit. It also helps to have some pin type markers that you can ove around as needed.

teejtc's picture

THESE are the ones I use when I don't need multiple colors.

THESE are the ones I use when I need multiple colors.

Brass washers work well too!

I agree with Bill - the fancy ones are cool (and I have a couple of them) but they sometimes get in the way.

Grace and Peace,

transvibration's picture

Brilliant. Thanks guys

Really useful tips that I shall consider on my next trip to the craft store. I shall let you all know how I get on.

"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us"

Some of us cheap skates even make little loops from a different coloured yarn.

Mathew, don't be too hard on yourself right now as you are still "getting your feet wet" as it were. I'm no total authority on knitting and never hope to be (unlike some of the knitting mavens that you will likely come across in your experiences) but if anyone tells you that he doesn't make mistakes, he's an obvious liar. For me, I find the combination between using stitch markers and ticking off rows in a pattern to be helpful in keeping my place. When I put my work down for the evening, I'll generally scribble out where I stopped. It may sound ridiculous to some out there, but I know it's worked for me and perhaps it can help you.
Many wishes to you for continued success in your knitting, and for the sheer enjoyment I know you're going to have as you delve deeper into the hobby. Best to you.


steve kadel's picture

for rows, i slide my pattern in a plastic sleeve and use stickies to keep track. for stitches i use markers in various colors. i even use combinations of markers to tell me when to repeat (two of the same color) or alternate (two different colors)

we won't just get a cat, nubby nu nu, will manifest a kitten from our love...and lint from our hemp socks

we put birds on things

herbie74's picture

As others have mentioned: stitch markers and post-it notes. (they also have row counters that hang off like a stitch marker)

On my sweater project, markers noted where I needed to increase or decrease.

I kept track of the rows on the post-it, one line for each row of the repeat, marking it off as I came to it. Has worked for me on what I've done so far.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

A friend of mine needed some markers one day and, in a pinch, found a bag of colored mini rubber bands at a Dollar Store. They work just great; you get a bazillion of them for around a dollar, and you always have plenty to mark whatever your heart desires to do as you knit, using a different color for each thing. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

transvibration's picture

That's a great idea Joe. The next time I am in the pound shop a shall look for a pack. Actually I remember when I was younger my gran would collect the little, square, plastic tags that would seal a loaf of bread. They would come in different colours dependant on the loaf and they would carry the best before date on them. She had tonnes of them and I always wondered why. Now I know, they were perfect stitch markers!

"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us"

A lot of comments here. I have some of the cabon rings to use as markers, but it seems that they are in hiding when I need one or more. But I nearly always have a plastic straw somewhere near the kitchen sink. I use scissors to cut a very thin slice from the end of the straw which fits perfectly over the end of my needles. If the marker springs off when I come around to it and refuses to be found, I just cut another one. The staws, of course, come in different colors, so I'm unlikely to purchase any more standard knitting markers.

WillyG's picture

Simple stitch markers. Check.

Reading your knitting. Indispensible. (Some stitch patterns practically count themselves... have you ever compared counting rows in garter stitch to counting rows in stockinette? At times I find myself considering throwing in a few columns of self-counting stitch patterns, just so I don't have to pay attention for a bit.)

Also, for counting stitches, try using the tip of a needle to count your stitches, and learn to count in twos or fives or other groups that readily present themselves to your eyes/fingers. Still, if you make good use of stitch markers, your counting will be minimal. Score.

As for being able to fix your mistakes later on in the knitting, when I learned how simple it can be, I was actually happy to make a mistake! A crochet hook comes in handy here.

Much like shortcuts in everyday math (such as counting change), I find myself breaking down the pattern in my head - or on paper- into manageable bits. This is, in my mind, a huge part of being able to knit confidently in a pattern. Being a visual kinda learner, I will often mark up the written directions with lines, boxes, circles, or even highlighters, so that I can map out the segments of the pattern. Charts are helpful, but sometimes I still have to mark them up with colored pencils.

To sum it up, keep it simple, but if it's not, find (or create) ways to simplify it.

transvibration's picture

Great advice Will!

"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us"