Learn How to Do the Cable Stitch in Knitting

Learn How to Do the Cable Stitch in Knitting

Are you a knitting enthusiast looking to expand your stitch repertoire? Look no further than the cable stitch! This intricate stitch adds depth and texture to your knitting projects, making them stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re knitting a cozy sweater or a trendy scarf, mastering the cable stitch will take your knitting game to the next level.

The cable stitch may look complicated, but it’s actually quite simple once you understand the basics. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process of creating a cable stitch, from choosing the right yarn and needles to executing the twists and turns that give this stitch its signature look.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of knitting cables, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a cable stitch. At its core, this stitch consists of holding a group of stitches to the front or back of the knitting while you knit the next set of stitches. This creates the twisted effect that defines the cable stitch. By learning how to manipulate your stitches in different ways, you can create a variety of cable patterns, each with its own unique look.

Tip: It’s helpful to have some experience with basic knitting stitches before attempting the cable stitch. If you’re new to knitting, we recommend starting with simple projects like scarves or hats to build your skills before tackling cables.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what the cable stitch is, it’s time to gather your materials and get started! Grab your favorite yarn, a pair of appropriate needles, and let’s jump into the wonderful world of cables.

What is the Cable Stitch?

The cable stitch is a knitting technique that creates a twisted, raised design in your knitting project. It adds texture and visual interest to your knitted fabric, making it a popular choice among knitting enthusiasts.

The cable stitch is created by crossing stitches over each other. This is done by temporarily holding a set of stitches on a cable needle or a spare double-pointed needle, then knitting the next set of stitches, and finally knitting the stitches from the cable needle or spare needle. By manipulating the order in which the stitches are worked, you can create a wide variety of cable patterns.

Cable stitches are often used in sweaters, scarves, hats, and blankets. They can be used to create intricate designs or simple, classic patterns. The number of stitches and the number of rows involved in a cable pattern can vary, giving you endless possibilities for creativity.

Learning how to create cable stitches can be a bit challenging at first, but with practice, it becomes easier. It’s important to keep track of your stitches and follow the pattern carefully to ensure your cables turn out correctly.

In the next sections of this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of creating cable stitches, from the basic techniques to more advanced patterns. So grab your knitting needles and let’s get started!

The History of Cable Stitch

The History of Cable Stitch

The cable stitch is a knitting technique that creates a twisted, three-dimensional pattern in the fabric. It is commonly recognized for its resemblance to braided cables and is often used to add texture and visual interest to knitted garments and accessories.

The origins of the cable stitch are believed to date back to the early days of knitting, which can be traced as far back as the 13th century. Knitting was an essential skill for many individuals during this time, particularly fishermen and sailors who relied on warm, durable garments to protect them from the harsh weather conditions at sea.

Early examples of cable knitting can be found in the traditional knitting practices of countries such as Ireland and Scotland, where the technique was used to create thick, warm sweaters known as Aran jumpers. These jumpers were originally worn by fishermen in the Aran Islands and featured intricate cable patterns that were believed to have symbolic meanings related to maritime life.

Over time, the cable stitch gained popularity among knitters worldwide and became a staple in knitting patterns for a variety of garments and accessories. The advent of mass production in the textile industry further popularized the cable stitch, as it could be reproduced quickly and easily with knitting machines.

Today, cable knitting remains a beloved technique among knitting enthusiasts. It allows for endless design possibilities, as different combinations of cables and twists can create unique and intricate patterns. Knitters continue to explore and push the boundaries of cable knitting, incorporating it into modern and contemporary designs.

  • The cable stitch is a traditional knitting technique that creates a twisted, three-dimensional pattern.
  • It originated in the 13th century and was used by fishermen and sailors for warm and durable garments.
  • Traditional cable knitting can be found in countries like Ireland and Scotland.
  • The cable stitch gained popularity worldwide and became part of knitting patterns for various garments.
  • Mass production in the textile industry further popularized cable knitting.
  • Today, cable knitting is still loved by knitting enthusiasts and allows for endless design possibilities.

Step 1: Gathering Supplies

Before you can begin knitting the cable stitch, you’ll need to gather all the necessary supplies. Here’s a list of everything you’ll need:

  • Knitting Needles: You will need a pair of knitting needles that are appropriate for the weight of the yarn you’ll be using.
  • Yarn: Choose a yarn that is suitable for the cable stitch. Worsted weight yarn is a good option for beginners.
  • Cable Needle: A cable needle is a special knitting tool that helps you manipulate the stitches when creating the cable pattern.
  • Tapestry Needle: This needle is used for weaving in the loose ends of yarn when you finish your project.
  • Measuring Tape: A measuring tape is essential for checking your gauge and measuring your work.
  • Scissors: You’ll need a pair of scissors to cut the yarn when you’re ready to finish your project.
  • Stitch markers: Stitch markers are helpful for marking specific stitches or sections in your knitting.

Make sure to gather all these supplies before you start your cable stitch project. Having everything on hand will ensure a smoother knitting experience.

Choosing the Right Yarn

Choosing the Right Yarn

When it comes to knitting, choosing the right yarn is just as important as choosing the right pattern or needles. The type of yarn you choose can greatly impact the final look and feel of your knitted project. Here are some factors to consider when selecting yarn for cable knitting:

  • Fiber Content: Yarn can be made from various types of fibers, such as wool, cotton, acrylic, or a blend of different materials. Each fiber has its own unique characteristics, so consider how you want your finished project to look and feel. Wool yarns are warm and cozy, while cotton yarns are breathable and suitable for warmer climates.
  • Weight: Yarns come in different weights, which refer to their thickness. The weight of the yarn determines the size of the stitches and the overall drape of the fabric. For cable knitting, a medium-weight yarn, also known as worsted weight, is often recommended as it provides good stitch definition and is suitable for a wide range of projects.
  • Texture: Consider the texture of the yarn and how it will affect the appearance of the cables. Smooth, tightly spun yarns are ideal for showcasing intricate cable patterns, as they enhance the definition of the stitches. On the other hand, fluffy or loosely spun yarns may result in a softer, more relaxed look.
  • Color: Think about the color palette of your project and choose yarns that complement your desired aesthetic. Solid colors can highlight the intricate cable stitches, while variegated or self-striping yarns can add visual interest to simpler cable designs.

Remember to read the yarn label for additional information, such as gauge, recommended needle size, and care instructions. Experimenting with different yarns can be a fun way to explore the possibilities of cable knitting and create unique, personalized projects.

Tools You’ll Need

Before you begin learning the cable stitch, it is important to have the right tools. Here are the essential tools you’ll need:

  • Knitting Needles: Choose knitting needles in the size recommended for your chosen yarn weight. You will typically need a pair of straight or circular needles.
  • Cable Needle: A cable needle is a specialized tool that is used to hold stitches when creating cable patterns. It is usually a short, double-pointed needle or a curved needle.
  • Yarn: Select a yarn of your choice in the appropriate weight for your project. Choose a color and texture that you love!
  • Tape Measure: A tape measure is handy for measuring your knitting work and ensuring your project is the correct size.
  • Scissors: You’ll need a pair of scissors to cut the yarn when needed.
  • Tapestry Needle: A tapestry needle or yarn needle is used for weaving in loose ends and finishing your project.

Having these tools on hand will make learning and practicing the cable stitch much easier. Once you have gathered all the necessary tools, you’ll be ready to dive into the world of cable knitting!

Step 2: Casting On

Before you can start knitting the cable stitch, you’ll need to cast on your stitches. Casting on is the process of creating the foundation row of stitches on your knitting needle.

To cast on for the cable stitch, you can use any method you prefer. However, the long tail cast-on method is commonly used and recommended for this stitch.

To cast on using the long tail method, follow these steps:

  1. Make a slipknot by creating a loop with the yarn, leaving a long tail.
  2. Insert the knitting needle through the slipknot and tighten it.
  3. Hold the yarn tail in your right hand and the working yarn in your left hand.
  4. Place the working yarn over your left thumb and the yarn tail over your left index finger.
  5. With your right hand, insert the needle between your thumb and index finger, going under the working yarn.
  6. Bring the needle back up and catch the working yarn.
  7. Pull the loop through and place it on the left needle.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches.

Once you have cast on the required number of stitches for your cable stitch project, you are ready to start working the cable stitch pattern.

Remember to keep a loose tension when casting on to ensure that your stitches are not too tight. This will make it easier to work the cable stitch and prevent your knitting from curling.

Long-Tail Cast On

The long-tail cast on is a versatile cast on method that creates a neat and stretchy edge. It is commonly used in knitting projects, as it provides a strong foundation for the first row of stitches.

To perform the long-tail cast on, you will need a ball of yarn and a pair of knitting needles. The length of the tail will determine the number of stitches you can cast on, so it’s important to estimate the length correctly.

Here is a step-by-step guide for performing the long-tail cast on:

  1. Begin by making a slipknot with the yarn, leaving a long tail.
  2. Hold the slipknot in your right hand, with the long tail over your thumb and the working yarn over your index finger.
  3. Insert the right-hand knitting needle into the slipknot from front to back, going under the thumb yarn and over the index finger yarn.
  4. With your thumb, bring the working yarn through the slipknot and onto the needle.
  5. Slide the slipknot off your thumb and hold it securely with your left thumb and index finger.
  6. To create the first stitch, insert the right-hand needle from front to back into the loop on your left hand’s thumb.
  7. Use your right-hand needle to catch the working yarn and bring it through the loop, creating a new stitch on the right-hand needle.
  8. Release the loop from your left thumb, allowing the stitch to settle onto the right-hand needle.
  9. Repeat steps 5 to 8 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches.

Once you have completed the long-tail cast on, you are ready to start knitting your project. The long-tail cast on creates a tidy and elastic edge that is perfect for a variety of knitting projects, including cables.

With practice, you will become confident in performing the long-tail cast on and be able to incorporate it into your knitting projects with ease.

Alternative Cast On Methods

When starting a new knitting project, one of the first steps is to cast on your stitches. There are several different cast on methods you can use, each with its own advantages and characteristics. Here are some alternative cast on methods to consider:

  • Long-Tail Cast On: This is a versatile and widely used cast on method. It creates a sturdy edge and is suitable for a wide range of projects.
  • Knitted Cast On: This method is similar to the long-tail cast on, but it uses a second knitting needle instead of your thumb to create the stitches.
  • Cable Cast On: The cable cast on method is great for projects that require a neat and elastic edge. It creates a row of stitches that look similar to cables.
  • Backward Loop Cast On: This method is quick and easy, making it great for beginners. However, it can result in a loose and uneven edge.
  • Italian Tubular Cast On: This advanced cast on method creates a neat and stretchy edge that’s perfect for ribbing. It involves using a waste yarn and requires some practice to master.

When choosing a cast on method, consider the specific requirements of your project and the finished look you want to achieve. Some cast ons are more suitable for certain stitch patterns or types of projects, so it’s worth experimenting to find the method that works best for you.

Comparing Cast On Methods
Cast On Method Advantages Disadvantages
Long-Tail Cast On Sturdy edge, versatile Requires estimating the length of the tail
Knitted Cast On Easy to learn, similar to long-tail cast on Can be slower than other methods
Cable Cast On Neat and elastic edge Requires extra attention and practice
Backward Loop Cast On Quick and easy Can result in a loose and uneven edge
Italian Tubular Cast On Neat and stretchy edge for ribbing Advanced technique, requires waste yarn

Remember, the cast on method you choose can have an impact on the overall appearance and functionality of your knitting project. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different methods to find the one that works best for you.

Step 3: The Cable Stitch

Once you have mastered the basic knit and purl stitches, you are ready to tackle the cable stitch. The cable stitch creates a beautiful raised pattern that adds texture and interest to your knitting projects.

To create the cable stitch, you will need a cable needle. This is a short double-pointed needle that is used to temporarily hold stitches while you work other stitches. The cable needle can be slipped behind the work or held in front, depending on the pattern instructions.

Here is a step-by-step guide to knitting the cable stitch:

  1. Step 1: Begin by knitting a few rows in your chosen stitch pattern. This will create a base for your cable.
  2. Step 2: Identify the stitches that will be crossed. Most cable patterns will specify the number of stitches to be crossed and whether they should be crossed to the front or the back of the work.
  3. Step 3: Slip the specified number of stitches onto the cable needle. Hold this needle to the front or back of the work, depending on the pattern instructions.
  4. Step 4: Continue working the next few stitches as specified in the pattern. This may involve knitting or purling them.
  5. Step 5: Insert the cable needle with the slipped stitches back into the work. If the cable needle is being held to the front of the work, insert it from the left. If it is being held to the back, insert it from the right.
  6. Step 6: Knit or purl the slipped stitches on the cable needle, following the pattern instructions.
  7. Step 7: Continue knitting the remaining stitches in the row, following the pattern instructions.
  8. Step 8: Repeat these steps for each cable in the pattern, being sure to follow any specific instructions for crossing stitches.

The cable stitch can be a bit tricky at first, but with practice, you will become comfortable with creating intricate cable designs. Just remember to read the pattern carefully and take your time to ensure your cables are crossed correctly.

Once you have mastered the cable stitch, you can use it to create a variety of beautiful projects, such as scarves, blankets, or even sweaters. The possibilities are endless!

Now that you have learned the cable stitch, you can move on to more advanced knitting techniques. Happy knitting!

How to Read Cable Stitch Patterns

When you are learning the cable stitch, it is important to understand how to read cable stitch patterns. Cable stitch patterns are written using specific symbols and instructions that tell you how to create the cable design.

1. Symbols:

Cable stitch patterns use symbols to represent different cable stitches. Each symbol represents a specific action, such as crossing stitches over each other or knitting stitches out of order. Common cable stitch symbols include:

  • / – Slip stitches onto a cable needle and hold in front of work
  • \ – Slip stitches onto a cable needle and hold in back of work
  • [ ] – Cable stitches together
  • ( ) – Repeat the instructions inside the parentheses

2. Chart:

Cable stitch patterns often include a chart that visually represents the cable design. The chart consists of a grid where each square represents a stitch. The symbols mentioned above are used in the chart to indicate the cable stitches. The chart is read from right to left for right-side rows and left to right for wrong-side rows.

3. Instructions:

Along with the chart, cable stitch patterns include written instructions that explain how to create the cable design. The instructions use the symbols mentioned above and provide step-by-step guidance on what stitches to perform and how to perform them. It is important to carefully read and follow these instructions to create the desired cable design.

4. Repeat Sections:

Cable stitch patterns often include sections that need to be repeated multiple times. This is indicated in the instructions or chart with a specific number of repeats, such as “Repeat Rows 3-6 two times.” It is important to pay attention to these repeat sections to ensure the cable design is formed correctly.

By understanding the symbols, reading the chart, following the instructions, and repeating sections as needed, you will be able to easily read cable stitch patterns and create beautiful cable designs in your knitting projects.


What is the cable stitch? Is it difficult to learn?

The cable stitch is a knitting stitch that creates a twisted design that resembles a cable. It involves crossing stitches over each other to create the cable effect. While it may seem intimidating at first, with a little practice, you’ll be able to master the cable stitch.

Do I need any special knitting needles to do the cable stitch?

No, you don’t need any special knitting needles to do the cable stitch. You can use the same knitting needles you use for your other knitting projects.

Are there any specific yarns that work best for cable stitch knitting?

There are no specific yarns that work best for cable stitch knitting. You can use any type of yarn you prefer, as long as it is compatible with the knitting needles you are using. Thicker yarns will create a chunkier cable, while thinner yarns will create a more delicate cable.

Is it possible to undo the cable stitch if I make a mistake?

Yes, it is possible to undo the cable stitch if you make a mistake. To do this, you would need to carefully unravel the stitches back to the point where the mistake was made and then re-knit the correct stitches. It may take some time and patience, but it is definitely doable.

Can I use the cable stitch in any knitting project?

Yes, you can use the cable stitch in any knitting project that you wish to add a unique and decorative touch to. It can be used to create beautiful cables on sweaters, scarves, blankets, and more. The possibilities are endless!


Knitting Cables: Instructions for absolute beginners

How to Knit: Basic Braid Cable | Simple Pattern for the 3/3/3 Plait | Cabling Tutorial

How to knit the Cable Stitch without a cable needle (Step-by-step tutorial)

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