Thursday, April 9, 2009

Roll your own row counter

I've talked about my lazy quirk before -- I'd rather take hours making something than leave the house to pick it up at the store. I've done this with bread and donuts; today I wanted to share something that's significantly easier and takes less time: a row counter for knitting or crochet (or really anything else that's difficult to keep track of).

This simple counter uses things I already had around the house (scrap yarn, magazines, scissors, a toothpick and Elmer's glue) and skills I learned in Girl Scouts (making magazine beads). It can keep track of up to 100 rows at a time, is portable and easy to make.

Find two pages in contrasting colors. It works best if the pages have one dominant color. Cut 10 strips from each page, with one end slightly narrower than the other. Make the wide end the width you want your beads (1-1.5 cm. is good).

Run a line of glue down the length of the back of the paper strip; leave about 1/2 a cm. or so unglued at the wide end of the strip to keep from gluing the paper to the toothpick in the next step.

Wrap the wide (and glueless) end of the paper around the toothpick, then roll the paper up, pressing out wrinkles and air as you go. It helps if you align the long sides of the paper perpendicular to the toothpick rather than try to align the short end parallel -- I suck at cutting the strips with right angles, so lining the sides perpendicular helps keep the paper from rolling up wonky. Did that make sense? Good.

Do it 20 times, and you have 20 pretty beads ready to go.

Tie a big, fat knot in one end of your scrap of yarn (it should be about 18-20 inches long) and string 10 matching color beads. You want to use a piece of yarn that is bulky enough so the beads don't slip around on their own -- you want it a little tight. Tie another knot, leaving about an inch or so (or the space of 2 beads), then string the rest of the beads. Tie a third knot in the end, leaving space like you did between the two sets of beads.

To use the counter, move one blue bead for every row. When you count 10 rows, move a yellow bead, then reset the blue beads. The picture above shows a count of 12 -- 1 yellow for 10, plus 2 blue. Use a paperclip or a barrette to keep your beads in place when you stop.

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