Tips for Knitting Cables

Add cables to anything and it’s a guaranteed upgrade. Cables can be fun, classy, elegant — and a real pain to knit sometimes.

Cabling is just twisting stitches and changing the order to add nice little twists to the fabric. You’ll usually do this with a cable needle by slipping stitches onto the cable needle, knitting as you normally would, and then knitting the stitches off the cable needle. You’re just changing the order of the stitches in the row.

cabled

Knitting Cables Tips

Cable Needles

The assortment of cable needles can be a little confusing and overwhelming at first. They’re long, they’re short, they’re thick, they’re thin, they bend in different places — ahhhh! But don’t worry; you can generally use whichever type of needle you like best. When I first started cabling, I tried out a lot of different types of cable needles and now I just work with one or two.

Cable Gauge

One thing to remember when you’re choosing cable needles: try to choose a needle that’s about the same diameter around as your knitting needles. Otherwise, you’ll have different gauges in your work. So for example, if you’re knitting with size 6 needles, choose a smaller cable needle. If you choose a larger one, you’re going to have issues getting the tiny stitches onto that larger needle — and your cables are gonna look kind of wonky.

Swatch It

This is a rule across all knitting projects, but it’s especially important for cables. Try out the cable pattern before you jump into a project. It will help you understand all the twists and turns so that when you actually start a larger project, you won’t make as many mistakes.

Abandon the Cable Needle

If you don’t have cable needles on hand, you can substitute with a double-pointed needle. It’s a little bulkier to work around because it’s long, but it will still do the trick. And if you just completely dislike using cable needles, there are plenty of tutorials for cabling without one.

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