MarkiDieux Row Counter – How does it work?

Sunrise Ballet Abacus Row Counter

How to use a MarkiDieux Abacus Row Counter

Sometimes it’s hard to tell a product’s functionality by just a picture.  In this post, I’ll explain how to use the abacus row counter produced at MarkiDieux.

Get organized

MarkiDieux Abacus Row Counter bead setup
MarkiDieux Abacus Row Counter Bead Setup

The first thing that has to happen is to decide which end of the abacus you want to call the “active” position and which end will be the “inactive” position.  It’s a completely arbitrary decision, but you’ll want to find a way to denote which is which.  Perhaps tie a bit of thread to one end.  You just need to remember which is which.

The active end will contain the beads that are to be summed up.  The inactive end contains the beads not being used.

I like to position the abacus vertically so that the silver beads are on the right side.  Then I choose the end closest to me as the inactive end.  I think of it as the “bottom”.  Then when I add a row – slide a bead up – I slide it from the bottom to the top.

Count your row (or round)

Next you’ll need to make another decision.  Are you counting your row before you start it or after you’ve finished it?  Is the row you are working on represented by the row counter or is the row you just finished represented?  Whichever you choose, remember this decision.  You’ll need to do it the same every row.  If you count before you start, you’ll need to move a bead before you start.  Otherwise, move the bead when you’re finished.  I know it sounds a bit ridiculous to bring this up, but for a long time I’d never consciously thought about it and then I’d have to figure out which I’d chosen.  When I finally did make that concious choice to always count when I’m done with the row, it was liberating.   Now I don’t have to figure out which choice I made for that project when I pick it back up again.  I always know the beads at the active end represent finished rows.

How to move the beads

MarkiDieux Abacus Row Counter Row 1
MarkiDieux Abacus Row Counter Row 1

Each of the abacus beads represents a single row.  By moving the beads from the inactive end to the active end, one at a time, we can count up to nine.  This applies to either string of beads, gold or silver.  The difference between the two strings is that one string represents the ones digit and the other string represents the tens digit of a two-digit number.   For example, in the number 54, the 5 represents 5 tens and the 4 represents 4 ones.

So if all nine beads have been moved to the active end of the abacus on both strings, this represents the number 99.

I usually keep the silver beads on the right side because real gold costs more than real silver, so I think of the gold as “more expensive” (values are ten and up) and the silver as “less expensive” (values are 9 and down).

How to read the abacus

Even though we have to do the dread knitting math, it’s pretty straightforward to read the abacus, now that we know what to look for.  We first count the gold beads at the active end of the abacus.  Stick a zero at the end of that number to show that it is in the tens column.  For example, 4 gold beads becomes 40.  Then count the silver beads at the active end of the abacus.  Now for that teensy bit of knitting math.  Add the two numbers together.  That’s it.  So if you have 4 gold beads and 5 silver beads, you add the numbers 40 and 5 together to get 45.  You’re looking at row 45.  Here are some example photos:


Image displaying row #6 tallied on a MarkiDieux Abacus Row Counter.
Displaying Row #6. Here the silver beads represent the ones digits.
Abacus Row Counter, Row 54
Displaying Row #54. Here the silver beads represent the four ones and the gold beads represent 5 tens.
Abacus Row Counter, Row 10
Displaying Row #10 a MarkiDieux Abacus Row Counter. The single gold bead represents one ten.

Notice that when you are changing from Row 9 to Row 10, all the silver beads that were at the active end of the abacus for Row 9 are slid back down to the inactive end of the abacus for Row 10, because there are zero ones. Instead, a single gold bead is moved up to the active end of the abacus to represent 10.


Have abacus, will travel

MarkiDieux Abacus Row Counter Securing Progress
Here, the abacus clasp is used to lock the beads – to keep from losing your count.


If you want to keep your abacus in your project bag without losing your count, simply secure one of the clasps around the chains between the active and inactive ends.  If left loose, being jostled could shift the beads around otherwise.  Storing it then in the box provided will help protect your abacus and keep it looking new.



Well, I think that covers it.  Let me know in the comments if I need to clarify anything.  Thanks for reading!  Have a happy day blessed with yarn!

Shannon A

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