My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Of Sleeves and Row Counters


A couple of questions:

Lisa in NJ sez:

I’ve asked a question in my blog about keeping continuity of pattern…now that you are working on the sleeves, maybe you can tell how you keep things so beautiful as you increase? I find increasing and decreasing in pattern very hard!

Yeah, increasing and decreasing in a pattern can take a bit of concentration. Because I’m knitting my sleeves from the top down, I’m decreasing. I keep track of where I am in a pattern by marking the spot with magnetic strips on the pattern chart, thusly:


The horizontal magnet is above the row I’m working. For each decrease round, I move the vertical magnet over one stitch, so I know where to start. The sleeves are done with paired decreases, but as the charts are symmetrical (they are uneven number of stitches with a center pattern stitch, and the stitches on either side mirror images of each other), it’s easy to keep track.

Cheryl asks:

Wendy, how is that row counter attached to the sweater? Your own invention? Looks like a great idea–otherwise, they always fall off the end of the circular needle.

I put a row counter on a small stitch holder and pin it in my work, like so:


I have a couple of those row counters for circular knitting — the type that you can put on your needle like a marker — this:


But I don’t like them. I’d rather have the counter out of the way of the current row, so this works for me.

Hank’s first sleeve is growing . . .



  1. wendy, that is so darn smart! i had never thought of using the little stitch holder for holding my row counter…

    and how did you come up with the pattern marking method? that is pretty ingenious!

    hank’s looking so great. what a handsome guy!

  2. Brilliant chart-keeping. I bow to your brilliance! I was very puzzled after beginning my v-decreasing on the vest about how to keep the patterns aligned. This makes it completely clear.
    Thank you *very* much.

  3. Beautiful work and very inspiring!

    When you write that you are working the sleeve from the top down, was that your own choice? All the instructions I have tell me to knit sleeves from the bottom up on 3 double pointed needles. I just finished a two-color baby sweater and the sleeves were not so pretty — they turned out bumpy because of the increases and had 3 “lines” going up the sleeves where one needle ended and the next began (if that makes sense). It was a Norwegian sweater and had a facing at the end of the sleeve.

    Can I troubleshoot the instructions and knit a sleeve from the top down? (I am a slave to instructions.)

  4. I like the magnet idea. I am a fan of highlighter marker, instead of crossing off the whole completed row I cross off what I actually knit so I can see where I am next row.

  5. Thanks Wendy! Such a simple solution to those pesky row counters–you should add that to your list of tips!! Izzy looks like she’s enjoying the Spring sunshine.

  6. Hi, Wendy. Hank is just gorgeous. ๐Ÿ™‚ Who will be the lucky recipient of the finished sweater? Not to be nosy. I was just thinking that I’d want to keep it for me, if I were knitting it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Wow, what a beautiful sweater. Your knitting is wonderful!

    I have a question about your fair isles and dye lots: When you finished Oregon, you said you ran out of a color, but one of your buddies sent you a skein from her stash. Do you just forego dyelot in an emergency like that, or do you think it’s just not as important when you’re doing a pattern with so many color changes all over?

    Enjoy the beautiful weather before it rains!


  8. I read your blog every now and then and really enjoy it. I am not sure if this is the right place to ask this question.

    I think you mentioned this before, but I couldn’t remember your answer and perhaps I misunderstood. But what I thought you said was that you seldomed wore the things (sweaters and socks) that you knitted – partly due to the tropical area you live in ๐Ÿ™‚

    If this is the case, do you feel you choose to knit for the challenge, the process, the accolades or ….?

    I can easily start a sweater for no particular person as I have a huge family and someone will need it, but to start a baby blanket that is very intricate and will not be used by a particular baby (mine is almost 3) is something I can’t do. I keep thinking I need to change my philosophy, so I am curious to hear other knitter’s opnions.

  9. Wendy, is that true?! Do you *not* wear your sweaters? I guess it *is* kinda hot and humid on that other side of the continent. Hmmmm…maybe one day there will be a Wendy Johnson Knits sale (she said, with her eye on Maidenhair).


  10. No Lolly, it’s not true. I never said I don’t wear my sweaters. and I certainly don’t consider Washington DC tropical. We have cold winters and hot summers, and I do wear my sweaters in the winter. I have so many of them though that some of them don’t see the light of day very often.

    I always have a recipient in mind when I knit a sweater. Socks, too, though sometimes the intended recipient is simply charity and I bundle them off to one charity or another. I don’t think I’ve ever knitted anything without an intended victim — er — recipient.

    Oh . . . and I’ve already given Maidenhair away. Sorry. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Hey Wendy – I’ve finally made your cable-with-no-needle work for me! I’m doing a sweater in Cotton Fleece with one of those annoying honeycomb patterns across the front (8 single twists in a row) and this makes it so much less annoying. The yarn is not elastic so it is easy to lose the stitches, though – so I found a way to make it easier on that kind of yarn. If I am twisting first stitch in front of second, I leave the 2 stitches on the left needle to perform the little rearrange maneuver, but if I’m twisting the first stitch behind the second I slip both stitches to the right needle and then do the rearrange maneuver. (I hope I described that right.) That way, the temporarily loose stitch is always in front of the work and it’s easier to pick right back up again.

    Phew. Sorry to be so wordy. Hank looks wonderful and will look great with your hair color and your cat color. Emily says “Hi Kitty” to Izzy.

  12. thanks for the row counting tip! what an ingenious idea. and Hank looks absolutely beautiful.

  13. When you increase for sleeves, is the increase always on the same side. My pattern calls for me to increase every 2 row until I have 35 sitches and the to increase every 4th row until I have 49 stitches. So are my increases suppose to be on the same side. I am a new knitter.
    Thanks for all the help you can give


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