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How to Count Rows in Garter Stitch

I love knitting garter stitch. ‘Garter stitch’ is what it’s called when you knit every row, turning your work after each row.

garter stitch shawl

How do you count rows in garter stitch?

When I’m knitting in garter stitch, the pattern instructions usually say ‘knit 20 rows’ (or some other number), and I don’t want to use a row counter on each row. So, today, I’ll show you how to count the rows by looking at your work.

The important thing to know is that in garter stitch, 2 rows make one ridge. Check out this close up:

How to count garter stitch

Do you see the orange? That’s 2 rows of garter stitch, or one ridge.

You might find it easier to count the ridges, because they stick out pretty well, and then multiply that number by 2 to get the number of rows.

Keep counting!

This technique allows you to just keep knitting and count how many rows you’ve done at the end. No row counter, needed!

If you want to learn to count in other stitches, check out this great post by Lion Brand.



  1. Ashley H SAYS...

    Great advice! I actually us a knitting needle tip and count the valleys between the ridges. That way I don’t have to worry about getting interrupted during counting as my needle will mark where I left off.

  2. Helen SAYS...

    How do you or do you count the cast-on edge?


    • It depends on the pattern… different designers have different philosophies about whether to treat the cast-on edge as the right or wrong side. Sorry… probably not as helpful as you’d want πŸ™‚

  3. Thank you. I feel that I really should have known this already, but your very clear expanation, is great.

  4. Jennifer M Bockenstedt SAYS...

    when counting rows in knitting, do you count the bind on and bind off rows? or are they on their own? thanks!

    • You normally don’t count the cast on and bind off as rows. They’re their own thing. πŸ™‚

  5. Kitty Gilbert SAYS...

    Thank you, you made it simple by showing it in the Orange yarn!

  6. Belinda SAYS...

    Wonderful. Thank you. Mystery solved. An extremely esoteric subject for a young knitter.
    In my part of the world you have to be older like really older to be told. ..

  7. Katherine SAYS...

    Which side do you count. As one side of my knitting has 10 ridges the other side has 12. Im confused. Lol. Thanks in advance for any advice.

    • Patricia SAYS...

      If following a pattern, the instructions will tell you what side is facing you when you begin knitting every row, aka: gather stitch.

      For example: with rsf knit row. Repeat this last row a further 19 times. Then for the next row, you will receive further instructions.

  8. Jessica-Jean SAYS...

    Lion Brand has rejigged their website. The link to their instructions about counting rows in other stitches no longer works.

  9. Sherry SAYS...

    Thanks for the very clear visual and explanation of how to count garter stitch knit rowsπŸ’—

  10. Pat SAYS...

    Does anyone know how to pick up a row (not an edge) in garter (not stockinette) stitch? Thanks!

  11. Susan SAYS...

    is the row that is on the needle counted as an additional row? And, why does the reverse side have what looks like an extra ridge?