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Knitting Tips & Articles by Bonne Marie Burns

How to Knit a Basic Cable

Making cables is like braiding hair, where you move distinct segments over each other to make a crossed pattern.

Once you get the hang of it, you can apply the principle to any number of variations, using different numbers of stitches, different braid directions, or combinations of whole cables to make Aran patterns.

Cable Needles

Cabling involves working on some stitches while holding others in reserve so it's easier to have a tool that helps make the process easier.

Here's some examples of things that can be used as Cable Needles:

Top: Commercial Cable Needle (recessed area holds stitches neatly without slipping).

Middle: Double Pointed Needle.

Bottom: Eyeliner Pencil (!) Point being – you can use whatever you have that is short and similar in circumference to the other main needles you are using to hold stitches in reserve.


Ready to Cable

Row 1 of this cable pattern is marked by the safety pin.

The next row to be knitted is the cable row.

In this case, it is Row 6. Usually you will work a few plain Stockinette Stitch rows before the first cable is made. This will make a smoother edge with less bulk.

Five rows were worked before the cable row, in this example. Five edge stitches on either side surround a cable column of eight stitches.


Transfer Stitches

This example uses 8 stitches to make a right direction cable.

The abbreviation for this is CB4 or Cable Back Four.

When you are ready to make the cable, transfer the first 4 stitches to a cable needle purlwise (slip stitch from the front).


All Stitches Transfered

All stitches are on the cable needle and you're ready to cable.


Make the Cable

Move the cable needle to back, between the other needles, then knit the next 4 stitches from the left-hand needle.

Be sure and pull the first knitted stitch tight to the body of your knitting to minimize gaps.


First Stitches Knitted

The first 4 stitches are completely knitted onto the right-hand working needle (with the cable needle held to the back) and are now next to the other 5 edge stitches on the working needle.

The first half of the cable is done.


Knit Stitches From Cable Needle

Bring the cable needle to the front of the work being careful not to twist it.

Knit the stitches off of the cable needle.


Cable Completed

Now all 8 stitches of the cable column are on the right-hand working needle.

They will be pretty tight and bunched together but will even out as you complete more rows going forward.


Finish the Row

Complete the row, working stitches according to the general pattern instructions.


Place Marker

To keep track of rows worked between a cable row, place a hanging marker ( I used a safety pin) on the completed cable row of pattern, in this case, the 12th row.


Chic Cable Headband

Want to practice making the cable used in this example?

I've written a little pattern for a headband that you can find HERE...

Free Knitting Pattern Chic Cable Headband


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