A Hard Lesson About Row Counter Apps

Last night, I had a knitting crisis. We finished with dinner early, leaving me with a good hour-plus to work on Mom’s sweater.

I haven’t touched her sweater in over a week. My knitting has been mostly relegated to stockinette and garter stitch projects only, because much of my so-called spare time is now taken up by Nordic walking, strength training at the gym, and working with Eric on his chemistry homework. So, having an hour or so on a day when I wasn’t totally wiped out and had retained sufficient mental energy to follow a chart meant that I could make at least a little progress on the top-down cabled cardigan for Mom. I settled into my knitting chair, pulled out the chart and sweater, plugged in my iPhone, and pulled up the row counter app.

And then — nothing! The app refused to load or to do anything. I’d just updated to iOS 9, so I went to check to see if there was an update to the app that would make it play well with the new OS. Nope. I went to check the app store, and was disconcerted to find the app had been pulled from the store.

There I was, dead in the water. My hour-plus of knitting time was fast dwindling, as I was searching for some sort of fix, or at least an explanation. So, not only could I not access the app, I had no way to see the underlying data — my current row counts for the various parts of this project. I looked at my chart. I use highlighter tape to keep track of my rows, as well as the app, because the highlighter tape makes it easy to see where I am in a chart. I’d just finished the yoke, so I no longer had to keep track of sleeve and body increases, which was a good thing. If this snafu had happened during the yoke portion, I’d have a heck of a time reconstituting where I was.

At this point in the project, I’m working the fronts and back, and have a goodly number of rows to go before I have to start the gentle waist shaping. I can figure out pretty easily how many rows I have left to go before shaping. Before I did, though, I decided to check out Ravelry to see if others were having the same problem with this app.

On Ravelry, I discovered a thread on the app’s user group forum that indicated that, yes indeed, others are having the same problem, and that the developer was diligently working on a solution and plans to post an update to the software in the near future. Fine, as far as that goes. I have every expectation that in a week or so, we’ll get our update, and we can all use our spiffy app again. But will I?

I put aside Mom’s sweater, as I didn’t have the patience to reconstitute where I was in the pattern. Ay, that’s the problem, isn’t it? I never seem to have enough time to work on my projects, particularly those that require more thought that stockinette or garter stitch, so I need for things to go well when I do have the time and wherewithal to do so. I pulled out my garter-stitch shawl to knit and give this a think-through.

The reason I started using a row counter app in the first place was that I began a complicated Orenburg lace scarf some months ago. For that, I have to keep track of body repeats, border repeats, and pattern repeats within the body. I could have used my usual analog system of multiple row counters, coilless safety pins, and markings on the pattern. Instead, I bought an electronic counter which could keep track of three things at once. It made me nervous, though, because I found it too easy to erase the row counts on the counter. I sought a different solution, and tried out the app.

Eureka! I thought. The app was very customizable, stable, and it proved difficult to accidentally screw up my counts. So, when I started Mom’s sweater, it was a no-brainer to use the app for that, too.

Mom’s sweater calls for a top-down raglan construction, with five different cable charts in different parts of the pattern. An analog solution would require, at times, three row counters plus a system of coilless safety pins and pattern markings. It’s an ideal candidate for a row counter app. At least, when the row counter app is functional.

I realized that using a row counter app is a lot like entrusting your row counters to your kid or your second cousin or your next-door neighbor. The app’s functioning is controlled by at least three outside parties: the app developer, the owner of the phone’s operating software, and the app store. If those don’t play well, I have a situation not unlike leaving my row counters with the lady next door: She might be the nicest, most conscientious person in the world, but if I knock at her door to retrieve the counters and she doesn’t answer, I’m stuck. Why on Earth would I put myself in that situation?

So, tonight, I’m going to figure out where I am in the pattern. I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough row counters or safety pins in my stash room to accommodate this project, so I’ll run over to my LYS this weekend to buy more.

As for the Orenburg scarf-in-progress, I’m probably better off just waiting for the app update so that I can retrieve the data from my phone. Once I know where I am in that pattern, I’ll change over to an analog solution there, too.

The app was handy and slick and seductively easy. But this experience has taught me a hard lesson — my personal control over the row counter app is an illusion. If a developer takes it off an app store or the app no longer plays well with the latest OS, the result is just as if I’d given my row counters to my next-door neighbor for safekeeping. And what knitter in her right mind does that?


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1 Response to A Hard Lesson About Row Counter Apps

  1. Reblogged this on frozentundrafiberarts and commented:
    It’s kind of odd that I’m finally reading this. I was going to download an app for row counting, etc. and then promptly forgot about it. I guess I’ll just wait for now.


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