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Tutorial: Cables Without a Cable Needle

There's a fantastic article in the current winter issue of Creative Knitting magazine -- Learn Cables the Quick & Easy Way by Jill Wolcott. The article was followed by some delicious cable patterns (did you see the Accent on Cables Pullover by Marly Bird? LOVE!). Let's expand on that article a bit and learn how to cable without a cable needle.

It can feel a little weird at first, but don't let that deter you. Once you understand the idea that stitches are just changing places, it will become second nature to you. I prefer this method of cabling because it is a bit faster and less fiddly without a third needle poking out. So, first things first -- go read that article, play with cable needles, and then come straight back here to get the skinny on cabling without a needle.

Rule No. 1: Regardless of how many stitches are involved:

  • RC (Right Cable) means that the front cable is crossing over to the right. The first couple of stitches on the left-hand needle will be pushed to the back.
  • LC (Left Cable) means that the front cable is crossing over to the left. The first couple of stitches on the left-hand needle will be pushed to the front.

Rule No. 2: The first number in the cable abbreviation, such as 2/1 RC or 2/3 LC, indicates the number of stitches that will be crossed in the front. My examples show a typical 2/2 cable (2 stitches cross over 2 stitches), but the tutorial works for any number of basic cable combinations.

Right Cable (RC)

Step 1: Work up to where the cable will be and stop.

Step 2: Insert your right-hand needle into the front of the 3rd and 4th stitches (or into the number of stitches to be crossed) on the left-hand needle.

Step 3: Pinch all of the stitches with your forefinger and thumb. Slowly ease the left-hand needle out of ALL of the stitches. You'll have scared stitches hanging out in the back, terrified without a needle to hang on to.

Step 4: Still pinching, slide your left-hand needle, at the back, into those stitch loops at the back. Now they aren't scared anymore!

Click here for larger image.
RC Steps 1-4

Step 5: Bring your right-hand needle, holding on to the stitches, over to the left-hand needle tip.

Step 6: Slip each stitch over to the LH needle. All the stitches will be squished uncomfortably together.

Step 7: Knit those stitches as you normally would.

Step 8: You've made a 2/2 RC stitch. Great job!

Click here for larger image.
RC Steps 5-8

Left Cable (LC)

Step 1: Work up to where the cable will be and stop.

Step 2: From behind, insert your right-hand needle into the front of the 3rd and 4th stitches (or into the number of stitches to be crossed).

Step 3: Pinch all of the stitches with your forefinger and thumb. Slowly ease the left-hand needle out of ALL of the stitches. This time, you'll have stitches at the front, fearful without their needle.

Step 4: Still pinching and from the front, slip your left-hand needle into the needleless stitches at the front. Tell them it will be OK -- no dropping today!

Click here for larger image.
LC Steps 1-4

Step 5: Bring your right-hand needle, holding on to the stitches at the back, over to the left-hand needle tip.

Step 6: Slip each stitch over to the left-hand needle. All the stitches will be squished uncomfortably together.

Step 7: Knit those stitches as you normally would.

Step 8: Now you've made a 2/2 LC! Who said you have to use a cable needle?

Click here for larger image.
LC Steps 5-8

I hope the article in the issue and my little tutorial get you all excited to tackle those cable projects you've had your eye on!