Free Cable

Cables can deter many people based on the complexity of their appearance alone, but I'm here to show otherwise. Oh marvelous cables! If you find yourself comfortable knitting and purling but now feel the need to expand your skill set, give this a try and see if it's for you! Below I've posted written instructions with a bit of insight for ease in learning a new technique. I'll walk you through a sample stitch pattern using only two cable stitches. The remaining stitches will be knit stitches and purl stitches. For this tutorial, I chose the Honeycomb Stitch which I've used in a handful of my designs. If you've read my blog posts you're well aware it's a favorite of mine, but because of the repetitive nature I think it also serves as an excellent introduction to cabling. Let's take a look!

I've set out line by line instructions as you would see in a typical pattern. These 2 cables are commonly used in cable knitting, so you're likely to see them elsewhere. Grab a set of knitting needles, a cable needle and a skein (or use up some of those scraps you most likely have stockpiled) and let's get started!

Honeycomb Stitch  (this has many variations...this particular stitch can be seen used in my Honeycomb Raglan Tee v.1 and Honeycomb Raglan Tee v.2
Knitting flat (in rows) -
CO 16 sts with your favorite size needles

(WS) Row 1:  Purl all
Row 2:  Knit all
Row 3:  Purl all
Row 4:  *C4F, C4B*
Row 5:  Purl all
Row 6:  Knit all
Row 7:  Purl all
Row 8:  *C4B, C4F*

~~~Practice repeating rows #1 - 8~~~

Stitch Key:
C4F (Cable 4 Front) :  slip 2 sts to cn and hold to the front, K2 LHN, K2 cn

What do I do now?:
C4F means that you're cable will consist of 4 sts in total.  Following the stitch definition, slip 2 stitches from your left hand needle (LHN) onto your cable needle (cn), now let the cable needle hang on the front side of your work (this is always the side facing you.) We'll reunite with these sts shortly. Tidbit of info - Placement of sts in front or in back of your work determines what direction the cable will cross. If holding to the front = the cable crosses left, if holding to the back = the cable crosses to the right. So according to this stitch C4F, the cable crosses to the left. Now continuing in the directions, knit the next 2 sts on your left hand needle (LHN). We're halfway there. Return now to the dangling sts on your cn:  you can work these sts directly off of the cn or you can place them back onto your LHN and work from there. Again, this is simply a matter of how you feel more comfortable...results will be identical. Try them both out and see what's easier for you. I personally like to place them back onto the LHN to prevent splitting the yarn. Sometimes working from the cn can be a bit cumbersome. (There's nothing worse than seeing a split stitch halfway down the body of a sweater that now needs to be laddered or unraveled. Ugh.) It's an extra step, but an important one imo. Once the 2 sts from the cn are back on the LHN, K2. You just completed your first cable stitch!!! Yay! Take a's exciting, right! Pat on the back, maybe a sip of wine. =) If you did okay with this cable, this next one will be a breeze. Now, on to the 2nd and last stitch for this pattern.

C4B (Cable 4 Back):  slip 2 sts to cn and hold to back of work, K2 LHN, K2 cn

What do I do now?
This is the same stitch you just worked, but will cross in the opposite direction. We now know by looking at the name of this stitch that it's made up of 4 sts in total. The B indicates it will cross to the right. So, let's give it a go. Slip 2 sts to cn and hold to the back of the work, leave these 2 hanging at the backside and K2 from your LHN. Using you're preferred method, knit the last 2 sts from your cn. Voila!

note - Understanding the stitch:  A common mistake people make is when (in this case C4F/C4B) they see the #4, they may assume they're crossing 4 sts over 4 sts. I made this error when I started out as well. Be sure to use the given stitch key. Instructions for special stitches should be posted in a pattern key, but if not, there's pretty much always a glossary available in pattern books/mags etc. Worst case scenario, the internet is full of resources for this.

It's no surprise why cables are so popular...they are a spectacular sight and a heck of a lotta fun to create. Those show stopping knits you'll see cascading with twists and turns are just knit & purl stitches simply worked out of order. That crossing results in the formation of a cable. Granted, more advanced stitches aren't quite as rhythmic, (for example:  my "Adirondacks" pattern.) It's an intermediate/advanced knit that needs your undivided attention due to the massive amount of twist combinations. With a little patience and attention to detail you can create some beautiful pieces with cable knitting. There are multiple types of cable needles to choose from, but they all serve the same purpose. Heck, I used an unraveled paper clip when I started learning...whatever does the trick! So take your pick. I hope this helped open your mind to something new. There's a great joy in hearing someone say, "I just learned to knit, and I love it!" =) It's music to my if this helps even a few conquer the fear of cables, then I'm happy to oblige. Happy Knitting!