Counting Backward  •  March, 2014

        Find Us On: Gray G Sorry we haven't blogged in a long time. It's Grellow's fault.

         Ravelry  Instagram Grellow G My fault? Why?


Gray G You're the blogger. I'm the—

     Counting Backward

     A Counter Farm in
        the Basement
Grellow G —Former law professor who needs to put down the paperwork and pick up a knitting needle?

     Knitters Are Smart

Gray G Just one needle?

  Grellow G Circular. Obviously.

  Gray G Obviously. Anyway, we've been busy. But I did find the time to knit one of those infinity scarves, in the round, and when I looked at the pattern, I learned something cool about the Sirka® counter. Did you know that you can count backward?

  Grellow G Of course I did. So did you. When we designed the counter, we went with a mechanism that knitters can rotate both ways—clockwise and counterclockwise.

  Gray G Which sounds obvious, but a lot of ordinary row counters have ratchets inside, which can only rotate in one direction, which means you can only count up, not down. We thought knitters might want to count down once in a while. Like when I knit that scarf. And it made me so happy.

  Grellow G The scarf?

  Gray G No. Counting backward. It was such a simple thing, but so beautiful. Here's how it worked: The scarf had three parts to it. I used the gray crown and hand to keep track of which part I was on. So before beginning the first part, I put the gray crown on the "1" and the gray hand on the "3." Then it got interesting: Each part repeated a pattern over a different number of stitches, and the number of rows in each repeat matched the number of stitches. The first part had, let's say, eight stitches per repeat, so it took eight rows to complete. Because on each row I was doing something to a different stitch in the repeat. On the first row, I did something to the eighth stitch.

  Grellow G Did something? What?

  Gray G I don't want to say. Because of copyright.

  Grellow G Oh. Right.

  Gray G So on the first row, I did something (let's call it x) to the eighth stitch. On the second row, I did x to the seventh stitch. The third row, it was the sixth stitch. The fourth row, it was the fifth stitch. And so on. So I put my yellow hand on the "8," for a total of eight rows—one for each stitch in the repeat—and then I counted backward from eight to one. I started out with the yellow crown on the "8," and with each row I clicked it backward until the yellow crown was on the "1." And even if I put my knitting down and came back to it hours later—

  Grellow G Days later, you mean.

  Gray G —Okay, days later, I knew exactly how long the repeat was (eight rows, because the yellow hand was on the "8"), and I knew exactly when to work the x. If the yellow crown was on the "5," I did x to the fifth stitch of each repeat.

  Grellow G That's so cool! Maybe we can talk about this in our shawl tutorial.

  Gray G You mean the one we should be working on right now, instead of blogging?

  Grellow G That's the one.

A Counter Farm in the Basement  •  March, 2014

  Grellow G A lot of people have asked us how the Sirka® counters are made. I always say we assemble them in our basement.

  Gray G And they never believe you, do they?

  Grellow G No! But it's true. We keep our parts and tools and everything in Gray's basement. It's like a warehouse. No—it's like a counter farm, and we go down there and harvest faces, and pick discs, and assemble them into Sirka® counters.

  Gray G I love that. I've got a counter farm in the basement.

  Grellow G Which means that Gray spends a lot more time assembling counters than I do. Thanks, Gray!

  Gray G My pleasure.

  Grellow G So we thought it would be cool to show you the counter farm, so you can see how your Sirka® counters grow. First we harvest the backs (below left); then we pick some discs (below right).

 Yellow Discs

The discs grow on trees. (Yes, those are Gray's feet, below left.) Once we've picked a peck of hands (below right), ...

Disc Tree Top  Hands

... then it's time to stack the discs on the backs (below left). Kids love to help with this step! Finally, we harvest some faces from the face field (below right). They grow with the printed side down, on soft beds of foam core, and in perfectly even rows, stacked in perfectly even trays. We like things to be perfectly even, don't we, Gray?


  Gray G We're crazy that way. Now, for the actual assembly, we have to coax the balls and springs (below left) into the depths of the Sirka® counter. The balls and springs are there to hold the discs in place when they're not being rotated. The only problem is, they're just—so—tiny! This part of the assembly requires a keen eye, a deft touch, and nerves of steel. I breathe a sigh of relief every time I get them in there (below right).


  Grellow G Oh, please.

  Gray G BaggedOnce the balls and springs are in place, the face and hands go on top and the screws go in. Then we bag the finished Sirka® counters for storage (right) until they go to their new homes—yours!

  Grellow G And that's how the Sirka® counters are made! We hope you enjoyed the tour.

Knitters Are Smart  •  May, 2013

  Gray G We were approving the parts at the tooling company the other day when the manager looked at the counter and asked, "So where does the yarn go?"

  Grellow G That was pretty funny. But he doesn't knit, so how would he know?

  Gray G He wouldn't. And he's a great guy. So we showed him a knitting pattern and explained how knitters do the math, and the look on his face said, "Knitters are smart." Or at least that's how I interpreted it.

  Grellow G Speaking of math, I'm knitting a cardi using the Contiguous Method by Susie Myers, described here (on Ravelry), and the Sirka® counter is working so beautifully. The instructions for one part of the yoke consist of four rows, each with different types of increases. Row 1 (RS) has increases x and y and z, Row 3 (RS) has increases x and y, and the wrong side rows, Row 2 and Row 4, just have one type of increase, x. So I'm running the yellow count from 1 to 4, so I can remember which type of increase row I'm doing.

  Gray G How do you know when to stop?

  Grellow G Well, the instructions say to work Rows 1 through 4 until each front has 34 stitches. So I'm running the gray count from 1 to 34, and every time I add a stitch to the first front in my row, I give the gray crown one click. (Which means, of course, that when I add two stitches to the first front, I advance the crown two clicks.) When I hit 34, I'm done with that instruction and can move onto the next instruction. I haven't written a single note except to write my gauge on the pattern. How great is that?

  Gray G Totally great.

  Grellow G I'm just having the most fun using this counter we made, Gray. Am I allowed to say that?

Introductions  •  May, 2013

  Grellow G Hi! I'm Grellow. The molds for our Sirka® counters are in the process of being made, but we couldn't resist introducing ourselves, even though we know you won't read this for weeks and weeks. It's our first blog, and we're pretty excited about it.

  Gray G Hi! I'm Gray. Speaking of "I wish the Sirka® counters were done already," I'm knitting a sweater with a single cable in the center of the front, the back, and the sleeves. The cable repeats every twenty rows. I just started the sleeves, which feature an increase on each end of every eighth row until the sleeve measures a specified number of inches. With my gauge, I should end up in the middle of the seventh repeat, which you'd think I could remember, but I find myself checking the length every fifteen minutes. What can I say? I'm compulsive.

  Grellow G Me, too.

  Gray G Anyway, if I had my Sirka® counter right now, I'd run the yellow count from 1 to 20 (the number of rows in the cable pattern); the gray count from 0 to 6 (the number of "safe" repeats of the cable pattern before I have to check my length); and the blue count from 1 to 8 (the number of rows between and including the increase row). Then I'd put the pattern and the measuring tape in my knitting bag, and I wouldn't even glance in their direction until I'd finished my six cable repeats. How great would that be? Oh well.

  Grellow G Oh, well. It won't be long now.

  Gray G Let's just hope they work.

  Grellow G Yes, let's. Having something manufactured is an act of faith.

  Gray G And then there's the vow of poverty!

  Grellow G Ha ha! Funny. (Sort of.)

Back to Top