Technical Tuesday: Cables!

I have taught a couple people to knit; since I am not always on hand to answer questions and show them how to do things at home, they end up teaching themselves quite a bit. I am going over cables because I realized I’ve never actually shown anyone how to do cables. Sometimes it can be a little confusing and the written instructions may not seem the clearest.

I really liked this video for several reasons, first, because she showed you all the different cable needles and mentioned that you can use any of them or a double pointed needle. I always use a double pointed needle because that is what works for me. A couple friends that have taught themselves to knit, told me with EXTREME guilt that they were using another needle or a double pointed needle instead of a cable needle. They either didn’t want to go out and buy one, or they didn’t know where they could find one. Rest assured, there is no wrong way! I always use a double pointed needle and have actually never owned a cable needle. If it works for you then it is the right way.

The second reason I really liked this video is the way she showed you how to see how many rows you have knit between cables. I didn’t actually know this trick and am really happy I found it! I am forever trying to count the stitches on either side of the cable. There is a lot of guesswork and sometimes some frogging.

That video was very comprehensive so I am not going to post another one, the next video here is how to read a cable chart. Now, usually there is a legend to tell you what the symbols mean. There is no universal legend for stitch charts, so ALWAYS check your legend.

Usually charts are accompanied by written instructions. I prefer the charts because it is a lot easier to loose track of where you are in the written instructions. Here is a list of commonly used cable abbreviations and what they mean.

C2F
Slip 1 stitch purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 1 stitch from the left needle. Knit 1 stitch from the cable needle.
C2B
Slip 1 stitch purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 1 stitch from the left needle. Knit 1 stitch from the cable needle. 
C3F
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 1 stitch from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.
C3B
Slip 1 stitch purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 1 stitch from the cable needle.
C3L
Slip 1 stitch purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 1 stitch from the cable needle.
C3R
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 1 stitch from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.
C4F, Cross 2 Left
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.
C4B, Cross 2 Right
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.
C4L
Slip 3 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 1 stitch from the left needle. Knit 3 stitches from the cable needle.
C4R
Slip 1 stitch purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 3 stitches from the left needle. Knit 1 stitch from the cable needle. 
C5F
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 3 stitches from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.
C5B
Slip 3 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 3 stitches from the cable needle. 
C5L
Slip 3 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 3 stitches from the cable needle.
C5R
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 3 stitches from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle. 
C6F
Slip 3 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 3 stitches from the left needle. Knit 3 stitches from the cable needle. 
C6B
Slip 3 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 3 stitches from the left needle. Knit 3 stitches from the cable needle.

I have seen in some European patterns the use of T2B or T2F, this is cabling on the purl side. This is not particularly common, usually patterns have you knit the knits and purl the purls on the wrong side of your knitting, but I feel that I should warn you about them.

The most important thing you can do is always check your legend and ALWAYS check your cable as soon as you have completed it. As the above video mentioned, you can make corrections but it doesn’t look as good. I personally just rip back the knitting and start from where I needed to fix my mistake. It is really depressing to rip out a couple inches of cables to be aware while knitting! Make sure you have fun too, cables aren’t frightening and really add a classy touch to a lot of garments!