Knitting with Cables
October 22, 2010
Few things evoke the feeling of fall and colder weather to come, cozying up with a good book and the suppressed joy (or stress) of the coming holidays like cables. I rarely knit them in warmer weather but the first morning I wake to crisp weather, my hands itch for my needles, some wool (of course) and an interesting cable pattern. Cables can be integrated into any pattern to give it instant warmth and texture. The hat is an old standard but the classic appeal can warm up any outfit or knit in an excepted color can turn a simple pattern on its ear. Hand warmers/mittens are a great gift for the office go-er forced to work in 50 deg, INSIDE! The small cable tucks double the layer and add extra warmth to your hands. Knitted sleeves are very on trend this season, like leg warmers for your arms; these fast knits can also extend your summer wardrobe by making it possible to continue wearing short sleeves well after everyone else has tucked them away. Cabled socks are a coveted gem as are cabled sweaters. Legend has it that around the British Isle fisherman's wives would knit specific cable patterns for their husbands and sons. Not only would the cables help to keep them warm in the cold sea spray but also serve to identify any souls lost overboard.
Cables are not really tricky; they just need some patience to learn the technique. Cables are typically worked in a rib pattern. On the right side the knit stitches are crossed to make the cable and the purl stitch form a contrast to ensure the cables stand out. The ribbing also helps add back stretch that the crossing of cables removes. Cables are not worked every row but crossed and then worked in the rib pattern for a certain number of rows before crossed again (as determined by the pattern). It is very helpful to use cable needles for cable work but in a pinch I have resorted to DPN (they can be long and unwieldy) and crochet hooks (awkward but doable). There are several kinds of cable needles, just a few inches long some have a curve or bend at the center of the needle to secure your stitches till you need them. Some have notches carved in for the same purpose. Practice and preference will determine which is best for you. To cable you will slip a set number of stitches from your left needle onto your cable needle and hold it either in front of back (this determine whether your cable will twist left- front or right- back. Sometimes the loops on my cable needle will be loose and my needle will try to slip out while I am working other stitches. I will tuck my cable needle into my knitting to secure it from dangling and slipping. It is also helpful to mark either side of your cable with stitch markers so you don't need to count stitches every row.
Cables vary some simple to intricate, so if you are learning cables I recommend finding a simple pattern, just one twist, to gauge how the game is played before you move on to the big leagues. The good news with cables is that they are all amazing and impressive so one simple twist can make any project look incredible just as much as an amount of pretzel fanciness.Pictures as shown: Cable needle held in front for left twist, Cable needle held in back for right twist, Tucking the cable needle into knitting to secure and prevent slipping, Pretzel cable
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