Counting counting counting, blah! It’s one of the most dreaded tasks second only to sewing in ends. But, it’s almost the most important. Even the most seasoned crochet professional needs to count. One stitch off can throw everything into chaos and your finished project will be crooked.
I have a couple tricks I use to keep track on really long stretches. This is where stitch markers come in handy. There are a number of different styles, but I definitely have a preference. And note, stitch markers for crochet work can be different than stitch markers that knitters use. We crocheters want our stitch markers to mark our actual stitch, so they need to be removable. Knitters sometimes use markers on their actual needles so they don’t go around the yarn and slide back and forth on the needle. Make sure you buy stitch markers and not stitch RING markers.
Since our markers go on and off our stitches, they have an opening somewhere. Some people like the kind that slip on an off with one hand. Like these:
Those are split rings, so they’re open on one side. Super handy to put on when you have one hand available, but as easy as they slip on, they slip off that easily too. So, not favorite for a project I’m putting in and out of a bag. Maybe okay for at home use though?
So my favorite markers are locking stitch markers. And for me personally, the more the better! These babies have a way of disappearing on me. They’re small and when you’re working quickly, sometimes they don’t get put back in the case so they slip to the bottom of the bag, and you know the rest. I also have a tendency to pull out a bunch when I’m getting ready to crochet a long chain so I can access them quickly. And a few inevitably fall off the arm of the chair I’m sitting on, or off my lap, etc, etc. So buy a BUNCH! I like these myself:
I’ve also tried these, but they are not as easy to slip on and off, so I prefer the safety pin style. The little point on the safety pin makes it easier to put your marker precisely where you want it.
Once you have your stitch markers in hand, they are super handy when it comes to counting. Let’s say I’m starting an afghan and it has 212 starting stitches. Keeping track of 212 stitches can be a nightmare, even if you’re all alone in a room with zero distractions. So, I start placing a marker every 50 stitches. Now this number can change the more distractions I have. If I’m watching a tv show with my family, it goes down to 25, but if I’m chatting with my girlfriends at a coffee shop, that can go all the way down to 10 stitches! So I chain my 10 stitches, count, add a marker and keep going. Once I’ve placed that marker, I trust that the number of stitches before it is correct and then I only have to count my markers. This way I’m never at stitch 195 and have to start all over again. Saves me a lot of frustration!
For basic patterns I frequently keep a marker in place every 25-50 stitches, moving them up in my work either as I go or every couple of rows. But, if I move them, I ALWAYS count to make sure they’re still in place. Ever had an afghan that looks perfectly fine, but when you fold it in half you notice the edges are not the same length? We don’t want that to happen so count, count, count!
I do find that the less complicated the pattern, the more frequently I have to use markers. 100 stitches of double crochet is much harder to keep track of than 20 shells of five double crochets, even though they are the same number of stitches. So don’t be stingy with your counting and using markers just because the pattern is easy!
Happy Hooking everyone!