The yarnmeister’s abacus bracelet

We’re currently here in Esperance, WA

– where the eye wateringly super-fine white sand looks incredible against the clear and turquoise waters of the Southern Ocean.  Just marvelous!  Except for the weather which is putting a decided dampener on my everest-like washing pile!

Squinting at the beach
Squinting at the beach

I titled this blog using a made-up english/german word ‘yarnmeister’, mainly for my own amusement as 1) my husband is an ex-german (“ich bin Austraaalllyan – Austraalllyan – vy do zay not undaschtand mee???!!”);  and 2) most advertising in Australia makes out that products coming from Europe are superior to anything made here:  kitchen appliances, cars, bathroom tap ware, chocolate (definitely agreed!) etc.

Also, using the word ‘abacus’ to me conjures images of really smart school kids doing amazing maths stuff with wooden beads sliding on metal columns.  So, essentially, the Yarnmeister’s abacus bracelet makes it sound like one wearing it is rooly, rooly smart and looken Euro-cool whilst using it.

Just to be clear I did not invent this knitters’ counting tool, as a quick internet search will definitely show.  However, to make it Cath-proof (ie. those who are of the mathematically-challenged persuasion) I did make a few changes to the ones I saw.  Let me share:

1st try - noted areas for improvement include some counting skills .. Sad really.
1st try – both lines should have 9 beads. Noted areas for improvement include my counting skills .. Sad really.

How the bracelet works:

1 line of beads is for single units – ie. 1, 2, 3, 4 etc to 9 – so slide 1 bead after completing that row.  The 2nd line of beads is for units of 10 – ie. 10, 20, 30 etc. – so if you’ve just completed row 14, you will have 4 beads separated in one line, and 1 bead separated on the other line.

Using ribbon or yarn that has some tooth works best.  Alternatively, if you run out and use some really smooth crochet yarn with a high twist – it won’t work nearly as well – yep, learnt that lesson …  Using ribbon ensures the beads do not move – ever – unless you choose to move them.  This is great if you knit a project, put it down, stuff it in a bag, it ends up at the back of the wardrobe – but you’ve cleverly put your bracelet in the bag as well.  Later, when doing some wardrobe archaeology, you can carry on knitting where you left off – as the bracelet will tell you which row you’d just finished – yay!  Unless, of course, the moths got to your project first.

My bullet-proof improvements:

Almost dummy-proof abacus yarnmeister’s bracelet – except for the super slippery crochet cotton on my singles row.. doh!
  1. Choose different beads for each line – this helps me quickly see if it’s row 14 and not 41 as the ‘single units’ bead line are one colour and the ‘tens units’ line another colour.
  2. When stringing the beads on, put a marker near the beginning of the ‘single units’ line – so if you take the bracelet off, you easily know which end is the start of your bead count.
  3. Use ribbon, yarn or string with some ‘tooth’ to ensure the beads don’t slide around if you move your hand.

And that just about does it.  There’s lots of videos on making these and, as I cringe on paying around $20 for a plastic counter, and am forever searching in charity shops just in case someone has kindly donated one, this is a good, cheap, blingy alternative.

Now I’m off to buy more ribbon!

Don’t count on me,






  1. Hi remember us, still in Gero, I’m still working, John still lounging about sprooking surgical jargon to anyone who will listen !! Your craftiness never ceases to amaze me. Where ever you are, whatever you are doing I miss your scallywaginess. Stay safe and enjoy it all. 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Louise and John – could never forget you guys!😀 John must be just about to go under the knife by now, I’ll chant him some luck, at the same time chanting you some patience in dealing with your patient(s)!! Looking forward to crossing paths in Exmouth – you scally wag!!😁


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