Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tutorial: Cabling without a Cable Needle

I don't know if you have the same problem that I do with cable needles. I lose them -- down under sofa cushions, at the bottom of my bag, even once under a car. They have their uses certainly. I used a cable needle to work the 6-st cables in Petrova and Glenora. In the heavy yarn with a lot of stitches involved, it seemed easier.
(As an aside, my favourite type of cable needle looks like this. Wood, so the stitches don't slip, straight so there's a minimal amount of manipulation required, and with clever bulges at either end so the stitches don't slide off.
Sorry, I don't remember the brand.)
Back to cabling WITHOUT the aid of such a needle. In the following example, I have 2 purl stitches, then 2 knit stitches on my LH needle. I want to bring the 2 knit stitches forward and to the right, in front of the purl stitches.

1. I slide the tip of the RH needle purlwise into the 2 knit stitches that are to be cabled across.

 3. Next I carefully ease the 2 purl stitches off the tip of the LH needle. IMPORTANT: I use my right index finger to immobilize them at their base, so they can't go anywhere and so they retain their proper orientation.

3. Next I slip the 2 purl stitches, now at the back, onto the LH needle, being careful to maintain their orientation.

4. Then I return the 2 knit stitches to the LH needle.

Here are the 4 stitches that were just manipulated, now in the correct order for the cable.

5. Finally, I knit the knit stitches, and purl the purl stitches, and the cable is crossed correctly.

This was an example of a cable crossing to the right and in front.
It's no more complicated to cable to the left. In this next example I have 2 knit stitches, then 2 purl stitches on my LH needle. I want to cable the knit stitches across to the front and left of the purl stitches. I simply dig the tip of my RH needle into the stitches to be manipulated from the back. Here are the steps, without any further commentary.

I hope this liberates you from digging in your purse for that dratted cable needle, at least most of the time. And pardon the closeups of my winter-roughened hands!


  1. This is my preferred method for cables involving a straightforward cross and few stitches. Much quicker than fussing with a cable needle! Like you, though, I prefer to use a separate needle if there are many stitches involved and/or they are going to be knit out of order (as in my current WIP).

  2. I know I need to try this - on my swatch! Great idea!

  3. I googled wooden cable needles - yours looks very similar in shape to the Brittany Cable Needles.

    1. I did that too! Looks the same all right.

  4. For anyone who would be interested and to save you the searching - Little Red Mitten in St. Thomas has the Brittany Cable Needles for $6.90 and shipping via Canada Post Lettermail is $1.80, plus HST of course. I don't think I've ever seen such reasonable shipping charges.

    1. Although of course, the point of the post is how to cable without the little needle. *sigh* Sometimes the excitement of the search gets the better of me.