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How to count crochet stitches


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I'm having difficulty counting crochet stitches and could use some sage advice.  Simple, right?  Not for me - I do a row and count - no problem - I do the next row and the count is not the same.  This seems to happen whenever I go from a single crochet row to a double crochet row and then back to a single crochet row.  It is driving me nuts!  I even made hash marks on paper and saw that I can count it two ways - which is my problem.  I start with the first stitch and count it as number one.  I count nine stitches - OK.  But If I start from the stitch I identify as number nine and go back to first stitch, I get TEN.  HELP, please!!

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Welcome to the ville!

I'm guessing you may be new to crochet? Gaining / losing stitches is not uncommon.

One handy thing to have is stitch markers; you don't have to go buy anything fancy, bobby pins are cheap and work perfectly.  It might not be a bad idea to put a stitch marker in the first stitch of every row, and move it up when you get back to it again -- markers are just for beginners, I've been crocheting for decades and still use them to mark various things, even sometimes the first stitch of a row or round.

I think the stitch gain/loss most often has to do with the way rows start; bear with me if the rules for 'turning chains' is old news.  

Turning chains are to bring the yarn to the height of the next row.  The taller the stitch, the more chains you need to 'get up there', and how chains are treated are different for different stitches.

slip stitch - no turning chain typically; often used to 'scoot over' horizontally without adding significant height, for shaping armholes for example.

SC - 1 turning chain, does not count as a stitch.  Chain 1, turn, sc in the last stitch from the last row if you aren't meant to be increasing or decreasing.

DC - 3 turning chains, DOES normally count as a stitch (a pattern assumes you know this, and would tell you only if it does NOT count as a stitch).  This stitch I think causes new crocheters the most trouble keeping count, because: when you chain 3, turn, you SKIP the first real stitch you encounter, and make your first stitch into the second stitch.  The reason is:  the ch-3 is physically hanging just OUTSIDE the first stitch BUT it counts as if it were made IN the first stitch.  Therefore, you must skip the first stitch because it's 'occupied'.  If you don't skip it, you've made an increase.  THEN, at the other end, because the chain 3 that started the row below counts as a stitch, you need to make your last stitch of the row into the top chain of that chain-3.

There are ways to get around this for DC.  You could just not count the turning chains as a stitch on either end and DC into the first stitch & last DC on the return, but that makes a wavy edge which may or may not be ideal.  The easiest work around IMO is make the turning 'chain' as a phony DC consisting of: chain 1, sc in the first stitch, chain 1 or 2 (whichever matches your DC stitch height best), so the sc + chains count as the first DC, and are IN the first DC of the row below. Then when you make the return pass, the last stitch will be in the top chain that you made with the "sc + chain dc".  

Where 2 stitch markers come in would be to mark the top chain of that first DC of the row, so when you come back to it you can see the chain better.  Just move the marker up to the new row when you've 'used' the spot it had been marking.

 

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After taking a day off from yarn, I returned today and did an experiment using the stitch markers as you suggested.  I have found the solution!  Instead of placing a stitch marker at every tenth stitch, I put a stitch marker in EVERY stitch, counting to make sure I had 69, then I patiently moved EACH stitch marker to its counterpart in the row I just did, and stuck a stitch marker in EVERY stitch there!  Then, after every successful row with 69 stitches, I rewarded myself with a swig of a nice single malt scotch (neat) - I may not get very many rows done but at least I know each row contains the right number of stitches!!  Brilliant, don't you agree?  🙂

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Granny Square and magiccrochetfan - I have good news!  I finally figured it out thanks to the hint Granny Square gave me - "The easiest work around IMO is make the turning 'chain' as a phony DC consisting of: chain 1, sc in the first stitch, chain 1 or 2 (whichever matches your DC stitch height best), so the sc + chains count as the first DC, and are IN the first DC of the row below. Then when you make the return pass, the last stitch will be in the top chain that you made with the "sc + chain dc".  I did it and it worked!!!  I don't even have to use 69 stitch markers now that I've got it figured out.  Unbelievable!!!  I cannot thank you enough for your sage advice and hints! XOXO!  

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:woo Yippee!  Glad that helped, I think that 'skipping the first stitch' that you have to do for taller stitches trips up a lot of new crocheters, and workarounds like the one I gave you work fine and look better than the way you're 'supposed' to do it.

Keep in mind tho, that patterns usually assume the standard rule of 'chain 3 and skip the first dc', and a pattern might intentionally tell you to 'ch 3, dc in the first stitch' to create an increase there for some shaping reason.

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Thank you for adding the caveat about other patterns and how they might read.  I will keep that in mind. 

The greatest take-away you have given me is how to handle that double crochet turning chain.  Now, the edge is so beautiful and perfect looking!  I added a little "trick" to help me (again, something you recommended) - I use stitch markers at both ends of the rows (10 each) and "free-style" crochet between them which has also helped me keep track of the number of stitches.  Plus I don't have to put a stitch marker in every stitch - 20 is a lot better than 69!

Jane  :-) 

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