Image Details: ‘counter on a zipper’ by pinprick, via Flickr
The knitting row counter is a device for keeping tally of how many rows have been completed when hand knitting. It can also be used to track the number of increases and decreases made during a pattern. The first on-needle knitting row counters were seen in the UK the 1920s, when complex patterns for recreational knitting became widely available. Originally manufactured from bakelite and later plastic, this type of counter is still in widespread popular use today (see picture above).
Other types of counter were developed throughout the 20th Century, in response to increasing demand for knitted items. In 1936, a complex knitting counter known as the ‘MP Handy Guide to Knitting and Crochet’ was patented and manufactured in the UK. During World War 2, a card version of this guide was issued by the Ministry of Defence to people knitting socks, gloves and balaclavas for the troops. Further developments of the complex counter included a pocket version manufactured by Aero in the 1960s. Other incarnations include pendant counters, worn around the neck and usually used when knitting on double pointed needles, and electronic counters, which brings me onto the project….
Not coming to a shop near you anytime soon…
This isn’t one of mine, it was made by Mr Shinybees in his secret upstairs laboratory, that was supposed to be my craft half room and turned into his batcave, somehow. I suppose it is useful to keep him and his lead-based solder out of the way, but it does mean he is unsupervised and therefore seems to injure himself with alarming regularity, usually by using tools in any way other than that which they were intended. On the plus side, the local Tesco (other supermarkets are available) is doing a roaring trade in first aid products, and I take great delight in disinfecting every wound with surgical spirit. Because it stings. A lot.
I requested the row counter as I thought it would be a quick project that Mr Shinybees could knock up from the plethora of electronic components in his stash, and to keep him gainfully employed whilst he waits for the final parts for another project he is doing, which I’ll write about once it has finished production. I should have known that just throwing things together isn’t really in his repertoire, so the counter took much longer than I expected, chiefly because the printed circuit board was properly prototyped in the Republic of Ireland.
So here is Mr Shinybees’ version of events….
“Firstly I designed the circuit. Then I built the circuit. Then you changed the specification. Then I had to bodge it to change the design having spent 70 quid on a circuitboard. Then I burnt my arm on the soldering iron. Then I stabbed myself with a screwdriver. Then you administered surgical spirit to said injury, which was not only very painful, but a procedure I later found to be completely unnecessary. Oh, and I may have given one of the dogs lead poisoning.”
A man of many words, as you can see. When pressed further about how one could learn to build circuitboards, he squinnied something along the lines of “I thought the blog was about crafty guff, not proper stuff like electronics.” After a chinese burn and a squirt of surgical spirit in the eye to encourage a little creative team spirit, he finally recommended the book ‘The Art of Electronics’ by Horowitz and Hill. It’s probably worth borrowing it from a library as it’s both difficult to get hold of and expensive to buy. I think I’ll just stick to the ‘crafty guff’ for now…