Learn how to knit cable like a pro

Learn how to knit cable like a pro

If you’re a beginner knitter looking to expand your skills, cable knitting is a great technique to learn. Cable knitting creates a textured design that resembles intertwined ropes or braids. While it may look complicated, it’s actually quite simple once you understand the basics.

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the process of knitting cables. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right yarn and needles, to reading cable knitting patterns and creating different cable stitches. By the end of this guide, you’ll have the confidence to tackle any cable knitting project.

Before we get started, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the basic knitting stitches. If you’re new to knitting, it may be helpful to start with some simple projects, like scarves or hats, before diving into cables. Once you’ve mastered the knit and purl stitches, you’ll be ready to take on the challenge of cable knitting.

So grab your knitting needles and let’s get started on this exciting knitting journey!

Understanding Cable Knitting

Cable knitting is a technique in which patterns are created by crossing stitches over each other, creating a twisted effect. This technique adds texture and interest to your knitting projects. Understanding how cable knitting works and being able to read cable knitting patterns is essential for mastering this technique.

In cable knitting, stitches are divided into groups, usually referred to as cables. Each cable consists of a certain number of stitches that are crossed over each other. The cables can be crossed to the left or to the right, and the number of stitches crossed over can vary.

To create cables, you will need a cable needle. A cable needle is a short, double-pointed needle or a special tool designed for holding stitches temporarily while you work on the rest of the stitches. It prevents the stitches from unraveling while you cross the cables.

When reading a cable knitting pattern, you will come across symbols and abbreviations that indicate how the cables should be crossed. Common cable knitting symbols include / (for crossing stitches to the right) and \\ (for crossing stitches to the left). The stitches to be crossed are typically written in capital letters or represented by numbers.

Here is an example of a cable knitting pattern:

Row 1: *K4, P2, C6F, P2, K4; repeat from * to end of row.

Row 2: *K4, P2, K6, P2, K4; repeat from * to end of row.

In this pattern, “C6F” indicates that you should cross 6 stitches to the front. This means that you slip the next 3 stitches onto the cable needle and hold them in front of your work, knit the next 3 stitches, and then knit the stitches from the cable needle.

It may take some practice to get used to cable knitting, but once you understand the basic principles and can read cable knitting patterns, you will be able to create beautiful cable designs in your knitting projects.

Essential Knitting Tools and Materials

When it comes to knitting, having the right tools and materials is essential to ensure a successful and enjoyable knitting experience. Here are the key items you’ll need:

1. Knitting Needles

Knitting needles come in a variety of sizes and materials, such as metal, wood, and plastic. Choose needles that are appropriate for your project and comfort level. Circular needles are great for large projects, while double-pointed needles are perfect for knitting small items in the round.

2. Yarn

Yarn is the main material used for knitting, and there are endless options to choose from. Consider factors such as fiber content, weight, and color when selecting yarn for your project. Beginners may find it helpful to start with a medium-weight yarn in a light color, as it is easier to see the stitches.

3. Stitch Markers

Stitch markers are small rings or clips that help you keep track of specific stitches or pattern repeats. They are especially useful when knitting cables or lace. You can buy stitch markers or make your own using small pieces of yarn or safety pins.

4. Tapestry Needle

A tapestry needle, also known as a yarn needle, is used to weave in loose ends and seam knitted pieces together. Choose a needle with a large eye that can accommodate your yarn’s thickness.

5. Scissors

A small pair of sharp scissors is important for cutting yarn and snipping off any loose ends. Make sure to keep them in your knitting bag for easy access.

6. Row Counter

A row counter is a handy tool that helps you keep track of the number of rows or repeats in your knitting. There are digital row counters available, as well as simple manual counters that you can click or turn.

7. Measuring Tape

A measuring tape is essential for checking gauge and measuring the size of your knitted pieces. It’s important to match the gauge specified in your pattern to ensure your finished project turns out the correct size.

8. Knitting Bag or Organizer

Having a dedicated knitting bag or organizer will help keep all your tools and materials organized and easily accessible. Look for a bag with compartments and pockets to safely store your needles, yarn, and other knitting accessories.

By having these essential knitting tools and materials, you’ll be well-prepared to start your knitting journey. As you gain more experience, you can expand your collection to include additional tools that suit your knitting style and preferences.

Choosing the Right Cable Knitting Pattern

When it comes to cable knitting, there are countless patterns to choose from. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, it’s important to choose a cable knitting pattern that suits your skill level and desired outcome. Here are some factors to consider when selecting the right cable knitting pattern:

  1. Skill Level: Cable knitting can range from simple to complex, so it’s important to choose a pattern that matches your skill level. If you’re a beginner, start with a pattern that has basic cable stitches and clear instructions. As you gain more experience, you can challenge yourself with more intricate patterns.
  2. Desired Outcome: Think about what you want to create using cable knitting. Are you looking to make a cozy sweater, a hat, or a scarf? Consider the size, shape, and overall design of the finished object. Some cable patterns work better for certain types of projects, so keep that in mind when making your choice.
  3. Pattern Complexity: Take a look at the pattern’s complexity level before diving in. Some patterns may require advanced techniques or multiple cable stitches within a row. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start with a simpler pattern and gradually move on to more complex ones as you become comfortable with cable knitting.
  4. Visual Appeal: Consider the visual appeal of the cable pattern. Look for a design that catches your eye and aligns with your personal style. Some patterns feature intricate twists and turns, while others have a more subtle and classic look. Spend some time exploring different patterns to find one that resonates with you.

Once you’ve chosen the perfect cable knitting pattern, it’s time to gather your materials and get started. Make sure you have the right size knitting needles, yarn, and any additional tools required for the pattern. Remember to read through the instructions carefully before beginning and take your time to ensure accuracy in your stitches. With practice and patience, you’ll be creating beautiful cable knitted pieces in no time!

Casting On Stitches for Cable Knitting

Before you can start knitting cables, you need to cast on your stitches. Casting on is the process of creating the foundation row of stitches on your knitting needles.

Here are the steps to cast on stitches for cable knitting:

  1. Hold the knitting needle with the slipknot in your right hand, and insert the empty needle into the first stitch on your left needle.
  2. Wrap the working yarn around your right needle, going from back to front.
  3. Pull the wrapped yarn through the stitch on your left needle, creating a new stitch on your right needle.
  4. Slide this new stitch onto your left needle, making sure not to pull too tight.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches for your cable knitting project.

Alternatively, you can use the long-tail cast on method for casting on stitches for cable knitting. Here is how to do it:

  1. Make a slipknot with a long tail, leaving enough length for your desired number of cast on stitches.
  2. Hold the slipknot with your thumb and forefinger of your left hand, and hold the working yarn with your right hand.
  3. Insert your right needle into the slipknot from left to right, going over the tail and under the working yarn.
  4. With your right needle, catch the working yarn and pull it through the slipknot, creating a new stitch on your right needle.
  5. Slide this new stitch onto your left needle, making sure not to pull too tight.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches for your cable knitting project.

Casting on stitches is the first step in cable knitting. Once you have cast on your stitches, you can start working on your cable patterns and create beautiful textured designs in your knitting projects.

Making Cable Crossings

Making cable crossings is an essential technique in knitting cables. Cable crossings create the twisted effect that is characteristic of cable patterns. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make cable crossings.

  1. Identify the type of cable crossing: Before you begin, determine the type of cable crossing you want to make. There are several types, including left-leaning cables, right-leaning cables, and twisted cables.
  2. Count your stitches: Determine the number of stitches involved in the cable crossing. This will help you plan your cable crossing and ensure that it fits within your pattern.
  3. Prepare your knitting needles: If the cable crossing involves holding stitches in the front or back of your work, be sure to transfer the necessary stitches to a cable needle or double-pointed needle.
  4. Begin the cable crossing: To create a left-leaning cable crossing, slip the designated stitches onto the cable needle and hold them to the front of your work. Knit the next stitches on your left needle, then knit the stitches from the cable needle. To create a right-leaning cable crossing, slip the designated stitches onto the cable needle and hold them to the back of your work. Knit the next stitches on your left needle, then knit the stitches from the cable needle.
  5. Finish the cable crossing: Once you have completed the cable crossing, continue knitting your pattern as instructed. The cable crossing will create a twist in the fabric, adding texture and visual interest to your project.

Remember to practice your cable crossings to become more comfortable with the technique. With time and experience, you will be able to create intricate cable patterns with ease.

Fixing Mistakes in Cable Knitting

Making mistakes while knitting cables is inevitable, especially for beginners. However, it’s important not to panic when you notice an error in your cable knitting. With a few simple techniques and some patience, you can easily fix your mistakes without having to unravel your entire project.

Here are some methods you can use to fix common mistakes in cable knitting:

  1. Dropped Stitches: If you notice a dropped stitch in your cable pattern, use a crochet hook or a cable needle to pick up the stitch. Insert the hook or needle into the dropped stitch from the front or back, depending on the direction of the cable twist. Then, carefully pull the stitch up and slip it back onto your knitting needle in its correct position.
  2. Twisted Cables: If you realize that you twisted your cables in the wrong direction, you can easily correct them. Use a cable needle or a double-pointed needle to move the stitches in the cable to the correct position. Slip the stitches onto the needle one by one, making sure to keep them in the correct order. Then, knit or purl the stitches back onto your knitting needle in the intended direction.
  3. Extra or Missing Cable Crosses: If you accidentally crossed your cables in the wrong place or skipped a cross altogether, you can fix it by carefully unknitting the stitches in the incorrect crossover. Use a crochet hook or a cable needle to hold the stitches on either side of the incorrect cross. Then, unravel the stitches in the incorrect cross and reknit them in the correct order.
  4. Uneven Tension: If you notice that the tension in your cables is uneven, you can try blocking your knitting to even out the stitches. Wet your knitting, gently squeeze out the excess water, and lay it flat on a blocking mat or towel. Use T-pins to secure the edges and shape the cables. Let your knitting dry completely before removing the pins, and you’ll have beautifully even cables.

Remember, mistakes in cable knitting are part of the learning process. With practice and these techniques, you’ll become more confident in fixing mistakes and achieving flawless cable designs.

Blocking and Finishing Your Cable Knit Project

Blocking is an essential step in the finishing process of your cable knit project. It helps even out the stitches, relaxes the fibers, and gives your project a professional and polished look. Here’s how to block your cable knit project:

  1. Prepare your materials: You will need a clean towel or blocking mat, rust-proof T-pins, and a spray bottle filled with water.
  2. Wet your project: Gently soak your cable knit project in lukewarm water. Make sure it is fully saturated. Let it sit in the water for a few minutes to allow the fibers to relax.
  3. Remove excess water: Carefully lift your project out of the water and gently squeeze out the excess water. Avoid wringing or twisting the fabric as this can stretch or damage the stitches.
  4. Layout your project: Lay your cable knit project on a clean towel or blocking mat. Gently arrange the fabric to its desired shape and size.
  5. Pin your project: Starting from the center and working your way outwards, use rust-proof T-pins to pin your project to the towel or mat. Make sure the edges are straight and the cables are properly aligned. Use additional pins if needed to hold the fabric in place.
  6. Steam or spray: Depending on the fiber content of your cable knit project, you can either use a steamer or spray it with water to reshape the fabric. Be careful not to over-steam or over-wet the project.
  7. Let it dry: Allow your cable knit project to air dry completely. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a day or two, depending on the size and thickness of your project.

Once your cable knit project is dry, you can remove the pins and admire your beautifully blocked creation. It’s now ready to be worn or gifted with pride! Remember to always check the care instructions for your specific yarn and project, as some fibers may require alternative blocking methods.

Blocking is just one of the many finishing techniques you can use to enhance and perfect your cable knit projects. It not only improves the overall appearance of your work, but it also helps to set the stitches and bring out the intricate cable patterns. With practice, patience, and a little bit of blocking, you’ll be able to create stunning cable knit projects that showcase your skills and creativity.

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Cable Knitting

  • Choose the Right Yarn: When knitting cables, it’s important to choose a yarn with good stitch definition. Look for a yarn that is not too fluffy or fuzzy, as this can make it difficult to see the cable pattern.
  • Create a Proper Tension: Cable knitting can be a bit tighter than regular knitting due to the texture of the cables. Make sure to keep your tension relaxed and even to avoid tight or puckered stitches.
  • Use Cable Needles: Cable needles are essential tools for creating cables. They come in various shapes and sizes, so choose one that suits your preference. Make sure to select a cable needle that is slightly smaller than your working needles to prevent stitches from slipping off.
  • Read the Pattern Instructions Carefully: Cable knitting patterns can be complex, so take the time to read and understand the pattern instructions before you start. Pay attention to any special abbreviations or symbols used for cables.
  • Practice on a Swatch: Before starting a large cable project, it’s a good idea to practice the cable pattern on a swatch. This will help you get a better understanding of the pattern and allow you to make any necessary adjustments before you begin.
  • Take Care of Your Cable Needles: Cable needles can be easy to lose or misplace, so it’s important to keep them organized. Consider using a small pouch or container specifically for your cable needles to prevent them from getting lost in your knitting bag.
  • Keep Track of Your Rows: Cable patterns often involve multiple rows and repeats. It’s helpful to use stitch markers or a row counter to keep track of your progress and ensure that you don’t lose your place in the pattern.
  • Block Your Finished Project: Once you have finished knitting your cable project, blocking is an essential step to improve the overall appearance and shape. Blocking helps to even out stitches and open up the cables, giving your project a polished and professional look.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to creating beautiful and intricate cable knitting projects. Remember to be patient and practice regularly to improve your skills. Happy knitting!


What is cable knitting?

Cable knitting is a technique in which stitches are crossed over each other to create a raised design that resembles a cable.

Is cable knitting difficult for beginners?

While cable knitting may seem intimidating at first, it is definitely something that beginners can learn with a bit of practice. By following step-by-step instructions and practicing with simple cable patterns, beginners can quickly grasp the technique.

What materials do I need to start cable knitting?

To start cable knitting, you will need knitting needles, yarn, a cable needle, and a knitting pattern. The knitting needles should be the appropriate size for the yarn you are using, and the cable needle is used specifically for holding stitches while you work the cable. The knitting pattern will provide you with instructions on how to create the specific cable design.

Can I make cables without a cable needle?

Yes, it is possible to make cables without using a cable needle. This technique is called “cabling without a cable needle” or “cable without needle”, and it involves slipping stitches onto a spare needle or holding them in the back or front of the work while you work other stitches. It can be a bit more challenging than using a cable needle, but it is a useful technique to know.

Are there any tips for keeping track of cable patterns?

Yes, keeping track of cable patterns can be tricky, especially if you are working with multiple cable designs or complex patterns. One tip is to use stitch markers to mark the beginning and end of each cable repeat. Additionally, you can use a row counter or a pen and paper to keep track of the rows and stitches. Reading the cable chart carefully and practicing visualizing the cables in your mind can also help you stay on track.


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