Knitting Tip: Counting Cable Rows (and the Heather Hoodie Vest)

I think we might have an instant classic on our hands, folks! The response to the Heather Hoodie Vest from the fall 2009 Knitscene is causing a stir all over the web and in LYSs–and basically anywhere knitters and Knitscene meet!

People are comparing the vest to the venerable Central Park Hoodie, which so many of you have knit and loved, and I think the Heather Hoodie Vest deserves the comparison.

With its lovely cable detailing amid swaths of clean stockinette, the Heather Hoodie Vest will be flattering on many bodies. I really love how the hood grows organically out of the stockinette section on the back of the vest, with that wide ribbing all around the edges to the button band. I really like the tone-on-tone buttons, too, but I know there are people out there who are going to jazz it up with some fab button choices, or maybe even a zipper instead of buttons.

And Lamb's Pride Bulky is so nice to work with–that slight mohair aura is really beautiful, and at 3.5 stitches to the inch, the vest is a fast knit, too. The Lamb's Pride Bulky color choices are almost endless–good luck deciding on a colorway! 

This kind of casual styling is perfect for fall; I can imagine wearing this vest to a football game in early October, for instance, or to the last of the farmers' markets before they close for the winter.

The cable work on this project isn't difficult, but there is a technique from this issue of Knitscene that I want to share with you.

Counting rows is something that we come across all the time in knitting, and it's usually an easy task. In stockinette stitch, you simply count a column of knit stitches and each stitch in the column counts as one row.

In reverse stockinette stitch, you count each purl bump in a column, and each bump counts as one row.

In garter stitch, each garter ridge equals two rows, so you count each ridge and multiply by two.

I always knit the first and last stitch of any garment piece, which makes for easy seaming because it gives you a nice garter column at each edge, and I can count the rows easily since each of the bumps at the edge equals two rows just like each garter ridge in a garter stitch project equals two rows.

So I'll bet you're thinking "Counting rows–why is she talking about this, it's so easy!" Well, I'm talking about it because I want to pass on some tricks from Kristin Roach about counting your rows in a cable, which, if you've done cable work, you know isn't as easy as it sounds.

All patterns call for cable crossings to be done every such-and-such number of rows, but it's difficult to count rows from a crossing because the stitches are distorted when they're pulled across each other. I never used to be sure exactly which row was the crossed row, but I'm confident in my counting after reading these tips in Kristin's Knitscene article.

Place the tip of your needle at the hole in your cable (where it twists). That is your cable row. From there you can count rows up or down (see the illustration at left). Count each V from the row after the crossing row (where the point of your needle is) including the stitches on your needle-here there are 5 rows after the cable row. You don't want to count the cross row itself if you are trying to determine how many rows have been worked since the cross.

You can also place a stitch marker in the last stitch of the cable when you work your cable cross row. Count the Vs worked since the marked stitch to check which row you're on. Just remember to place a new marker each time you work a cross row. If you're working multiple traveling cables, this is very helpful. Place a stitch marker in each cable.


 Thanks, Kristin, I know we'll use this tip a lot.

Happy counting!


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