By Carri Hammett
Before I attained my current cable mojo I avoided making projects with too many cables. Don’t get me wrong, I love cables—I even wrote a book about cables. It’s the cable needle I have a problem with. If I saw a pattern like the Crazy for Cables Hat (pictured below) I would have said “Oh, heck no!
I counted, and this hat has 204 cables. That means 204 times I would have to stop knitting, pick up the cable needle, cross the stitches, knit off the left needle then the cable needle. Once I learned how to make cables without the needle (the source of my mojo) I could knit across my cables with just a momentary pause for switching the stitches. Making cables without a cable needle feels a little risky at first but once you learn the technique it sure gives you a feeling of freedom!
Before I share the magic, let’s take a moment to review cable basics. I made a little swatch and on the right side there is a 4-Stitch Right Knit Cross. To make that cable using the conventional method with a cable needle, you would slip 2 stitches to a cable needle held at the back of the work, knit the next 2 stitches from the left needle, and then knit 2 stitches from the cable needle. The 4-Stitch Left Knit Cross is on the left side of the swatch and the traditional method is similar except you hold the cable needle with 2 stitches at the front of the work instead of the back.
If you think about it, the essence of making a cable is knitting the stitches out of order. Well, what if you could change the order of the stitches on the left needle before you knitted them without the hassle of a cable needle? That, my friends, is how you get the power to say “Yes!” to a hat with 204 cables.
Here’s how to make a Right Knit Cross without a cable needle:
At this point you need to stay calm and carry on.
Now all you have to do is knit across the four stitches on the left needle and the cable is complete. No cable needle!
Here’s how to make a Left Knit Cross without a cable needle:
It’s a little harder to see the loose stitches in the photo so I’ve circled them.
Just knit across the crossed stitches on the left needle and the cable is complete.
I always get in trouble with my editors for talking too much (sorry Kara!) but I have to leave you with a few words of advice. I use this method without any problems on four- and six-stitch cables. An eight-stitch cable can be a little more challenging because you have four stitches hanging loose, but if your yarn is clingy like mohair—no problem! Also, a left cross is easier because the loose stitches are in front and easier to catch.
I’m happy to share the Crazy for Cables Hat Pattern with you, which will be available on October 6th. For the next few months you can find a free version on my website, www.coldwateryarn.com, or just shoot me an email at email@example.com.
Carri Hammett is an author and former yarn shop owner. Her latest projects have both been for Annie’s. She recently wrote More Than a Dozen Hats & Beanies and also filmed the online class, Knit Finishing Techniques. Both the book and the class are available at AnniesOnlineClasses.com. All of Carri’s books are also available at your local yarn shop.