My current work in progress:

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


Golden Boy

Today I would like to show you my most precious possession:

I call him Golden Boy.*

Golden Boy may look like an ordinary barrel-style row counter to you, but he is so much more. So much more. For he is a barrel-style row counter that works. And works well.

When I advance his numbers, they move well, but with the merest whisper of resistance. Enough resistance to ensure that the numbers do not change when you shove Golden Boy and your work in progress into your knitting bag. But he is not so stiff that it is difficult to change his numbers. He is the perfect blend of resistance and ease.

But Golden Boy is dying.

Every time I turn a number my heart aches a little, because I know that with each turn, his mechanism is wearing out just a little bit more. I treat him gently and with respect, but I know it is not enough. Someday, Golden Boy will die.

Because I am a fickle woman, I have sought to replace Golden Boy. I’ve bought countless barrel-style row counters, but none of them come close to Golden Boy’s smooth elegance. They are all either unyielding or too loose. I’ve tried to use katcha-katcha counters, but am annoyed because it is not attached to my knitting. Golden Boy fits perfectly on the small stitch-holder that has been his home lo, these many years.

Sigh . . . I will miss Golden Boy when he finally gives up on life.

Oh yeah. I finished the first of the Ivy League socks last night.

Lucy Sez:

“Sometimes my momma worries me.”

*with apologies to Jerry Seinfeld


  1. My best thoughts are with you and Golden Boy. May he not go gentle into that goodnight but rage against whatever the poem says.

  2. Aw, poor Golden Boy. ๐Ÿ™ Personally, I could never get into the barrel style counters. (I’m a katcha-katcha kinda gal.) Funny how we all gravitate toward different things.

    And I LOVE the Ivy League socks. They’re beautiful. Hopefully you’ll be selling this pattern? (Please!?) And does this mean the Plurk/Dancing Banana socks will come next…? Ha ha.

    Mandis last blog post..New Knitty!

  3. Dr. Jackie says:

    Oh, pooooor Golden Boy. Sorry you may have to say goodbye soon. May you find another…

  4. I do absolutely love that sock. I know I’ve said it before. I can’t wait to make it. Will you be submitting that pattern to Loopy Ewe for purchase?

    As for Golden Boy, I have one that works really well in blue. Maybe I should call him Blue Boy. I didn’t know what I had until I bought three more thinking they were all going to work the same. Nope. Thanks for the heads-up!

    Plus – lovely picture of Lucy today! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Danieles last blog post..Butter and Learning to Spin

  5. I wonder if you could find a cousin to Golden Boy on eBay…they have everything else on there. There must be someone out there who is unaware of the treasure they have and would part with it for far too little. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. joann-WI says:

    When the time comes, may Golden Boy RIP. I have the other kind of row counter, and sometimes feel more comfortable with pen & paper. I have never seen Golden Boy’s kind, and I like the concept of attaching him (it) to your work. How handy. May your quest in finding a replacement be a successful one.

    Lucy looks like she was recently brushed (I see it laying on the floor) – does she like being brushed, or consider it torture?

  7. I am a pen and post it kind of gal, but I love your pearls. That was what I saw in the pictures….your gorgeous pearls.

  8. Oh golden boy, the rows the rows are calling..
    from knit to knit and down the steeked side.
    The counts are gone, and all the purls falling..
    Its you, its you must go and I must knit on…

    It will be ok – I promise.

    Megan Ss last blog post..Fun Stuff For All!

  9. Oh how I sympathize! I have cursed countless row counters for randomly adding or subtracting rows to my work! I finally gave up~ I use the old reliable method~ tally marks on a post it note which is taped to the pattern and only mark the tally after the row is completed (so as to avoid confusion) I confuse easily ๐Ÿ™‚

    Michelles last blog post..Second Times A Charm!

  10. Wendy.

    I think I have one just lime him that’s never been used. I can check when I get home.

    If you want it, it’s yours.


    Tiny Tyrants last blog post..Good Thoughts are Needed

  11. Debra I says:

    I think Lucy may have something, there. Next thing ya know, we’ll have a bag pipe dirge of Amazing Grace for Golden Boy.

    Hope you can find a replacement soon!

  12. catlady says:

    I love reading your blog so much! I understand how you feel about Golden Boy. I can’t knit socks, but wouldn’t miss reading about your knitting and Lucy for anything.

  13. I know exactly what you mean Wendy! You can buy the same brand and everything, and it just the odd one that has that perfect combination of resistance and ease! I don’t trust the electronic ones either – it would be my luck that the battery would fail in the middle of some huge project!

  14. Suellen says:

    Wendy, I have a COOL beaded bracelet that I bought from “Hide and Sheep’s Shop on Etsy, or if you google, you can find instructions to make your own. It works like an abacus, and allows you to count up to 99 rows. I wear it when working, and then pack it away so I know where to start. They are very pretty, and so convenient!!! Mine is peridot, but the sky is the limit!
    Move aside Golden Boy!

  15. Hi Wendy,
    I bought that same row counter just a few weeks ago at Knitpicks but I just looked and they are out of them. I found at Yarn Barn they have several so here is the page where you can buy row counters like your Golden Boy.

    That is a great idea to put him on the stitch holder. I have just set him on the end table and hoped that the new kitten didn’t knock him away.
    Good luck. Carol

  16. Ya never know how long Golden Boy may hold on, just because of your love and care.

    The Ivy League Sock is fantastic!!!

    Beverlys last blog post..WIPs

  17. Have you tried the green clicky that is supposed to attach to a lanyard or necklace? I think it is made by Clover. You could easily put it on a stitch marker. It even has a lock to ensure that random jostling doesn’t move you on a few rows. I love mine.

    bobigails last blog post..No knitting

  18. I have a katcha greenie that hangs around my neck or is secured tomy knitting and it works well – especially the lock! You should hear my cursing when it won’t work because I’ve forgotten the lock is on.
    I also have one of the wrist band abacus things from Hide & Sheep on Etsy. Each works well, but I normally find myself with the hash marks on the pattern in pencil. Guess I’m an old fashioned kind of woman ๐Ÿ™‚

    Of course, making socks 2 at a time eliminates a lot of the counting. it’s different when you’re making pattern notes, I expect.

  19. I’m sorry that Golden Boy is dying. I hate losing my favorite knitting tools. I’ve never used Golden Boy’s type of counter. I have several katcha-katcha and I’ve used pen and paper but I forget to katcha or mark. I like the little stitch marker types–the ones with the beads numbered for 1 to 0 or the ones with 10 tiny rings that I move one ring closer to the red bead. I place a coiless safety pin or a locking stitch marker every 10 rows. But it’s whatever works for you.

    Your book review yesterday did so well that Amazon sold out. Of course, my knitting plan right now is to knit your patterns for a while. Speaking of that…I think I’ll go get a glass of wine and knit.

    Timmie Bs last blog post..Getting ready for Summer of Socks 2008

  20. I’ve totally switched to the small green kacha thingy. It looks like a frog which is a bit alarming but I haven’t noticed any actual increase in the need to rip back since I started using it. That said, I have at least one like Golden Boy that I recall as not self-advancing at least. You’re welcome to it if you’d like to see if it would work for you.

    Ronnis last blog post..Not Enough Chocolate In The World

  21. melonpanchan says:

    have you seen the kind where you stick your needles through the row counter? they stay on your knitting. these can count up to 99 rows. i dont personally know this person who makes them, but you could easily commission them from others or make your own to your own taste. i got mine from muddypawsknitknacks on etsy.

  22. Have you seen this?
    I wonder if it could be adapted to knitting somehow…..perhaps in your quest to replace the Golden Boy you might take this on ????

    Don’t hate me for suggesting this LOL!!!

    Annes last blog post..Spiraling Coriolis Sock – Ta Da!

  23. I see some others have offered, but failing all of those, I have one as well that is completely unoccupied, and you would be more than welcome to it. I can root it up and evaluate its resistance. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Kristis last blog post..How High?

  24. I have an equal fondness for a row counter that has a loop that hangs off circular needles. Even if I’m not using circular needles, I always select that one, and I’m not seeing it as often as I used to. I’d love to get a second, but whenever I check a catalogue or LYS, I can’t find another. I got mine a Patternworks years ago, but it is no longer in their catalog. A picture of the one I have in mind is here:

    marjories last blog post..Blocked Out

  25. Wendy, my dear, you can replace Golden boy by getting the PEACH newer barrel counters. I believe they are made by clover, and are awesome! Have the great resistance/good movement AND they have a more adjustable fit to the needles. My current one is sitting quite nicely on a pair of US 1 needles, yes the huge sized fits on my US1s… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Tammys last blog post..Happy Birthday! And Sock Stash

  26. Have you tried the green mini-katcha counters? They have a hole through the bottom and could sit on the stitch holder like you’ve been using Golden Boy. Just something to think about when the time comes.

    Although I do enjoy my green mini-katcha, my favorite row counter is exceptionally simple … I take a length of scrap yarn, double it and tie knots so it’s a series of loops. Then I move it down one loop with each row. It gets too long/unwieldy if it has more than about 12 loops. Good luck!

    DPUTigers last blog post..WiP Wednesday: More Socks

  27. Broomhilda says:

    In a word… CLOVER.

    I know exactly what you’re talking about. I will only buy the Clover ones now because they stay where you put them, and they are nice pudgy little things with just enough resistance.

    I have 2 of them and guard them like treasures. I have each of them strung on a loop of yarn and I put one of the little lock-type stitch markers on them and pin them wherever I want on the work in process. I would have never gotten through any of the Scottish Person Who Shall Be Nameless’ sweaters with out them.

  28. Maureen says:

    My stitch counter is the same make as Golden Boy. He ( sorry, I didn’t realize we were supposed to name them) also has the right amount of resistance. One problem is going to render him less useful: his numbers are disappearing, being rubbed off from the inside.

    If I’d known the problem with getting decent ones, I would have … well, I guess I don’t know what I should have done. I know for a fact that there are at least two more of those babies around here somewhere. If only I could find them.

  29. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but Golden Boy looks like five row counters that are lost in various places in my apartment. Is there something special about this particular row counter that makes it work better than the others just like it, or are you having problems finding this brand? (If so, I can hook you up?)

    Sally Villarreals last blog post..Knitty is Here!

  30. Ah I have a golden boy, ashamed to admit I never knew it’s official name, I always just said” Where’s that little blue thing I keep count with?” No one except me has a clue what I’m talking about, lol

    Aunt Kathys last blog post..Wordless Wednesday- Water Boy Strikes Again

  31. Marjorie – your row counter is at KnitPicks – I just bought a replacement.

    Wendy – love the props and the object-obsession. Only a knitter would understand that. I have a tiny row counter (made to fit on fine needles), with the perfect action, etc. It too is on a nice coil-less safety pin to easily attach knitting, and to be easily found at the bottom of my bag.

  32. I can commiserate with you. We must have purchased ours around the same time. Mine is perfection, too. Additional ones I’ve tried in preparation for future replacement just don’t cut it. Too bad.

  33. Barbara-Kay says:

    I’ve become a combination counter: post-it with hash marks, and a knotted bead counter, made by me. The instructions were in a Knitter’s. I’ve made one that has 10 beads, and one that has 20 beads, for keeping track of larger-repeat patterns. The bead counter clips right to my sock.

    Oh, and the sock? Gorgeous!

  34. Treasure your time with GB! I am ever hopeful that there will be another incarnation of his beautiful self.

    Opals last blog post..A fine welcome home.

  35. Liz in IN says:

    My sympathies on Golden Boy’s failing health.

    I’ve used both the barrel type and the kacha type and prefer the latter because I can wear it around my neck and advance the row count *with one hand*. I’m not so much with the ‘unnecessary’ putting down of the needles.

  36. Alice in Richmond says:

    Uhhh, yep, Lucy is right to be worried.

    But I am still laughing.

  37. You are too, too funny!

    Have a great weekend!


  38. I don’t know which is funnier, the blog post or the comments.

    I think this was a test. Wendy just wants to check to see who’s going to be there for her when something REALLY bad happens. Not that the demise of GB isn’t bad, but, well….

    He is just a row counter. There will be others, I promise. I know you feel like you’ll never get over him, but there are other fish in the sea. You’re too nice a girl to be without the perfect row counter for long. And the others? Well, if they’re not perfect they don’t deserve to be with you anyway. (Anyone know an appropriate yenta-type expression to insert here?)

    It’s too early to laugh this hard.

  39. Have you seen the life counters here at They’re intended for role-playing games, but they make really nice row counters. Oh, true, they don’t attach to the knitting, and mine doesn’t really retain its state in my bag, but they’re very pretty and feel great in the hand, because they’re pewter.

    Rachels last blog post..FO: Hild is done!

  40. NewJerseyLaura says:

    Ah poor Golden Boy. I lost my beaded row counter, and luckily found the name of the creator (Gina Dedolf) in my knitting accessories and she made me a new one, and an even more beautiful one. The Katcha Katcha club is vast, but I accidentally Katcha in my bag (or kids play with it because of the lovely clicking) or forget to Katcha and lose count. There is actually a Golden Boy version with a built in hanger. I do like that. Maybe a different color. And all the Golden Boy makers manufacture them just a little bit differently. Perhaps the next contest: Ode to Golden Boy.

  41. I bought one of those once. Lost it the first time I used it. I use the Katcha-Katcha for a limited number of things, and my trusty pen and Post-Its otherwise.
    Funny what we all get used to and how we mourn when we have to change!

    Knitnanas last blog post..Another Crisis – Cloths Needed!

  42. I’ve tried to use row counters, and I just find it easier to count the actual rows, even with patterns. Should I ever find a row counter like Golden Boy, I will let you know.

    Carolines last blog post..Weather complaints

  43. Are you carding Lucy fiber?!?!?

    Jessicas last blog post..Gearing up!

  44. anne marie in philly says:

    I have at least 12 “golden boys”. some are tight, some are easy to turn, some are loose, some are so damn difficult I need a pair of pliers to turn the wheel. I am like you; can’t get into the “kacha-kacha” or the new electronic counter. it’s on the needles or nothing!

    best replacement? CLOVER brand. they take the same care with their barrel counters as with their bamboo needles – excellent!

    lucy looks pretty fluffy after a brushing!

  45. Dear Wendy, I have Golden Boy’s twin lying next to me. He was rarely ever used. So if you like, I’d send it to you.
    Greetings from Hamburg, Germany
    Tina *a silent reader so far*

    Tina (Tichiro)s last blog post..Stricknick am Weltstricktag 14.6.2008

  46. I, also, cannot use katcha-katcha counters; once I came home and found mine announcing that I was on row 73…but I was only 16 rows into my sock. I asked my husband, “Did you, um, click my row counter?” He smiled triumphantly and said, “I wanted to play with it!” I asked, “So you clicked it 57 times?” He then ripped the row counter out of my hand, and began clicking it fervently. (That was four months ago. He is still clicking it.)

    Careys last blog post..Various Things

  47. Oh my goodness……..I was just browsing a few blogs today and this post was exactly what I needed! I hear ya on the death of a beloved piece of knitting paraphernalia….


    Chrissys last blog post..

  48. natashapixie says:

    I see that Lucy has a Zoom Groom. My kitty Paisley loves hers and I love how it removes excess fur. Best kitty brush ever.

  49. Sorry to hear about GB’s advanced age and imminent demise. Might I suggest the small green kacha-kacha that you could run a stitch holder thru and pin to your work just like GB? I have one and really like it plus you can lock it when you toss it in your bag!

    Debis last blog post..Eye Candy Sunday

  50. I too have a Golden Boy and if he ever dies I will be sad and need to be institutionalised. Goodbye Golden Boy. Goodbye.

    alisonmcs last blog post..the little dutch girl earflap hat

  51. I have a Clover peach colored GB and try not to let it outa my sight!! I also have the same brand as you and love it as much. I havent tried the Kacha Kacha COunters yet but would imagine that the clicking sond would attract my boy cats and would cause the loss of a new row counter LOL!

  52. Oh, poor Wendy.
    I cannot sympathize with the quest for the perfect row counter because I count rows with a hot pink Sharpie, but you wrote about him in your book, so he must be something special.

    “Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” to complete the thought of Ida.

    The sock is truly beautiful. I’m hoping you offer it as a freebie, but that seems doubtful as it looks like an original pattern.

    Two PS’s: first, I love the “glamour shots” with the pearls and the velvet. J’adore, mon cherie! And second: Lucy is the only cat I have ever seen whose tail is fluffier than my cat’s.

  53. ok, that’s one of the funniest knitting blog posts i’ve read. i feel the same way about numerous implements in my life, albeit not knitting ones, which is why i try to buy two of things i really like, in preparation of their eventual demise.
    live long and prosper, Golden Boy.

    elises last blog post..time to fight back

  54. I know how you feel. For me, my most prized possession is a size J crochet hook that used to be my Grandmothers. It is old and nicked up, but it is the first hook I reach for and would be heart broken if I lost it. Enjoy the time you still have.

    Beverly (aka bjtilt)s last blog post..Nanner Socks!

  55. Love your writing Wendy, your sense of humour really shows through! (Seinfeld is one of my most fav shows so I enjoy seeing the references)
    And I absolutely *adore* Lucy.
    I have to ‘fess up that sometimes I come to your blog just to see the Lucy pics(she’s such a star in my books). Then when I have more time and am less tired, I go back and read your posts. Truly she does have the fluffiest tail I’ve ever seen!

  56. I have one like Golden Boy and it works great ( keeping tract of my rows on a hyacinth colored Shetland shawl I’m working on ). I also have one that hangs from a loop off a circ needle that works great. Somewhere, I have a blue and white one but I think it may have run away with my tiny scissors and tape measure ( they haven’t been seen for about 6 months ) or Chloe found them and is playing with them while I’m at work. Must check her toy box!!!!

    Benitas last blog post..


    this counter looks classy; better quality than some I have seen

  58. Karen Frisa says:

    To prolong the life of your row counter, you might want to use the left digit as the “ones” digit as the right digit as the “tens,” and read the counter from right to left. I’m guessing the “ones” digit gets more use, so is looser.

  59. After many years of frustration, I have abandoned row counters in favor of pen and paper. I have a couple different methods, depending on the pattern. If it’s something where I need to keep track of, say, neck and armscye shaping at the same time, I make a little graph with row numbers and shaping point. Each row of the section has a row on the chart and each shaping point is marked with an “i” or “d” under the correct shaping point header.
    For patterns where I’m just doing something like decreasing every X stitches Y times, I just indicate how many rows in each shaping segment (say 5 rows) and make a box for each shaping point (say, 7 times) and just tick off each row until I hit a shaping point, then move to the next box. Harder to explain than do.
    It’s a little hard, at first, to remember to always tick off the rows, but I’ve never had the number of tick marks change on me, in my bag and I never have to worry about what would happen if I didn’t remember to pack a row counter.

  60. I’m sorry to hear about Golden Boy, but you know, we’re all gonna die of sumthin’ ! He’s had a very good life and hopefully will live a bit longer. Maybe you could have him bronzed ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Lucy, Lucy you a one beautiful kitty! luv.m.

  61. My new favorite – mentioned by others – is the counter with the loop on the end that you can hang from your needles.

    Every time I order from KnitPicks, I add one or two to my cart:
    Knitting Row Counter and I have never received one that did not have good tension.