Looking for a fun, versatile stitch to add to your projects? Want a pattern so easy to remember you can knit it while you watch TV? Love the look of cables but are afraid it’s too complicated for your skill level? Meet the honeycomb stitch!
Photo via MichelleKrause
Named for the way the all-over pattern resembles the cells of a bee’s hive, the honeycomb cable stitch is an easy, attractive stitch for beginners and experienced knitters.
This tutorial contains step-by-step instructions, a link to a video demonstration, tips on how to get the most from the stitch and patterns (one free!) to practice your new skill.
5 reasons to love honeycomb cables
1. It’s a perfect advanced beginner stitch.
The honeycomb is an easy cable stitch to knit even if you’ve never knitted cables before. In fact, it was my first cable stitch pattern! With this all-over pattern, you will get plenty of practice with the technique and soon you will feel like a cable stitch pro.
2. A comfy texture
The dense cabling makes the fabric warm, cozy and soft — perfect for everything from sweaters and socks to mittens and blankets.
3. Good for TV knitting
This stitch is great to knit when you’re watching TV, chatting with friends or can’t focus all your attention on your knitting. Most of the rows are stockinette (knit and purl), so you only have to pay attention to the cable at every fourth row. And if you’re knitting in the round, the non-cable rows are all knit!
4. Forgiving fit
If you’re including this stitch in a knit garment or accessory, you’ll be happy to know that the cabled fabric is stretchy like ribbing, making a precise fit unnecessary.
5. A versatile stitch
You can use honeycomb cable as an all-over pattern or as a panel with other stitches. It’s easy to work with in the round and flat, so it really can work in any project!
Step-by-step honeycomb tutorial
This pattern uses two similar cable stitches, abbreviated C4F and C4B, which we’ll walk through here.
C4F – Cable 4 Front
This is the cable stitch that produces the left-slanting branch of the honeycomb cable.
If you’re new to cables, you might need a little explanation of cable abbreviations. The four in this stitch indicates there will be two stitches knit from the cable needle and two stitches knit from the left needle to make up the cable stitch. The “F” lets you know that the cable stitches will be held to the front of the work. You may also see this stitch abbreviated with a letter “L” instead of “F” to indicate the cabling goes to the left.
Step 1: Slip two stitches from left needle onto cable needle or double-pointed needle. (I prefer using a wooden dpn instead of a cable needle because I find it easier to handle.) Move your slipped stitches to the middle of the needle to make sure they don’t slip off again.
Step 2: Move your cable needle to the front of your work.
Step 3: Knit the next two stitches from left needle.
Step 4: Then knit the two stitches off the cable needle. Make sure you move the slipped stitches to the end of the cable needle opposite the end where you slipped them on. Don’t twist the needle!
Step 5: Move immediately to C4B.
C4B – Cable 4 Back
This is the cable stitch that produces the right-slanting branch of the honeycomb cable. You might also see this written with the letter “R” for right.
The only difference between C4B and C4F is that with C4B, you move the cable needle to the back of your work instead of the front.
Step 1: Slip two stitches from the left needle onto a cable needle or double-pointed needle. Move the cable needle to the back of your work.
Step 2: Knit the next two stitches from left needle.
Step 3: Then knit the two stitches off the cable needle. Make sure you move the slipped stitches to the end of the cable needle opposite the end where you slipped them on. Don’t twist the needle!
Step 4: Go back to C4B.
The honeycomb pattern
Different knitting patterns may vary the row on which the pattern begins or add extra knit and purl rows, but the sequence of rows will be the same.
For flat knitting, the pattern is:
Row 1: *C4F, C4B, rep from * to end.
Row 2: Purl.
Row 3: Knit.
Row 4″ Purl.
Rows 5: *C4B, C4F, rep from * to end.
Row 6: Purl.
Row 7: Knit.
Row 8: Purl.
For knitting in the round, replace the purl rows with knit rows:
Round 1: *C4F, C4B, rep from * to end.
Rounds 2, 3, 4: Knit.
Round 5: *C4B, C4F, rep from * to end.
Rounds 6, 7, 8: Knit.
(Note the reversal of the front and back cable directions in row 5. This closes off the honeycomb cell.)
5 tips for making the most of the honeycomb cable stitch
The all-over cable stitch causes the knitted fabric to contract like ribbing. So if you don’t swatch, you may cast on the number of stitches you usually need for an adult hat and wind up with a baby bonnet!
2. Try a double-pointed needle to hold your slipped stitches.
If you’re like me, you may find a cable needle a little too slippery to work with. Try acrylic or wood needles in approximately the same size as your other needles for a better grip.
3. Consider the ruffling effect on edges.
Because the pattern causes the fabric to contract all over, it also causes a kind of ruffled edge. You can either leave the ruffle (shown in the sweater pattern below) or add ribbing or similar knitted edging that also contracts (shown in the cowl and hat patterns below).
4. Keep track of how the previous cable row started.
When I first learned this pattern, I often forgot to alternate between front and back cable stiches when starting new rows. Make sure to check before you start a new cable row.
- Does the first cable slant to the right? It’s a back cable. Start the next cable row with a front cable.
- Does the first cable slant to the left? It’s a front cable. Start the next cable row with a back cable.
After you get comfortable with the stitch, try patterns that add rows or stitches to vary the height or width of the honeycomb cable cell for different looks.
Honeycomb stitch knitting patterns
Photo via MissSmart
Honeycomb Short Sleeve Top
The body and sleeves for this sweater knitted separately on straight needles, so be sure to follow the honeycomb flat knitting instructions. The ruffled edge on the bottom of the sweater is created naturally by the honeycomb pattern.
Photo via ValeriesGallery
Honeycomb Baby Blanket or Lap Robe
This knitting pattern incorporates the honeycomb cable stitch as panel with other textured knitting stitches to create an appealing combination of interesting textures. The blanket measures approximately 31 inches wide and 31 inches high, but you can change the size by varying yarn weight and knitting needle size or by adding rows.
Photo via MichelleKrause
Fashion Forward Cowl
This cowl knitting pattern is an example of the honeycomb stitch knit in the round. Knit in worsted weight yarn, the finished garment can be worn as a cowl, capelet or snood. The ribbing at the bottom and top keep the edges of the cable from ruffling.
Photo via scrapnqueen
The Honey Tree
This pattern has sizes for everyone from tots to grown men, so you can knit honeycomb gloves and mittens for the whole family. Plus, you can choose from gloves, fingerless gloves, flip-top gloves (“glittens”), mittens, fingerless mittens, and flip-top mittens (whew!) with optional fingering-weight liner.
Honeycomb Cable Hat
This FREE pattern of my own design uses the honeycomb stitch knit in the round. The top of the hat gets its ruffled texture because the cable stitches that end in the body bunch the knit stitches above in the top of the hat. This great side benefit of the cable stitches will leave people wondering how you got that look!
Enjoy your new stitch! We’d love to see your honeycomb cable projects posted here on Craftsy!