Do you like the look of cables but find the prospect of using a cable needle intimidating? Or, like me, do you just like the idea of finding the easiest way possible to make pretty much anything? If you answered "yes" to either question, let me introduce you to mock cables.
Using a mock cable knit stitch, you can create a cable look without the complication of a cable needle.
As with most things knitted, there are several variations on the mock cable knit stitch. True cables can twist either to the right or the left depending on where you hold the cable needle, so naturally there are ways to knit a mock cable that also appear to twist to the right or the left. The key component to most mock cable knit stitches is to use a passed over stitch or knit your stitches out of order to create that illusion of a cable twisting.
This mock cable pattern is at heart a 2x3 rib. A rib provides the best base for a mock cable knit stitch because it creates the maximum visual depth differentiation for the mock cable to pop out.
The pattern is a four-row repeat with only one row varying from the rib. That one row involves a slipped stitch that is then eventually passed over three stitches to create the appearance of a twist. The trickiest part is getting used to passing a stitch over three stitches, but once you get the hang of it, this pattern flies by.
Below you can see how that passed over stitch every fourth row pulls in that rib and creates the look of a cable.
Another variation on the mock cable knit stitch is to knit your stitches out of order. This is the underlying principle of cables, so it makes sense you could make a mock cable this way.
The twist-three mock cable is another 2x3 rib where the mock cable is only worked on one row. For this one, the mock cable is created by working the third stitch on the left-hand needle first. Then work the second. Then the first. You then slip all three stitches off the left-hand needle at the same time. This sounds more complicated than it really is.
Here, I am knitting into the third stitch. I will next work the stitch to its right and so on.
You can see how just that one row of working the stitches out of order twists the entire column, just like a real cable would.
The first example is a left twisting mock cable; the second example twists to the right. There are, of course, slight variations on these two methods and other styles of mock cables entirely. These two examples are not reversible. They have a clear right and wrong side. Other styles can be reversible.