Technical Tuesday: Cables without the Needle

Today I wanted to go over a technique that is a little more advanced, not much, but something that wasn’t a basic technique. When I was working on the French Cancan I was doing a whole bunch of cables with a double pointed needle. I’ve never used a cable needle because I didn’t want to buy a needle that was only good for doing cables, then I got a little more advanced in my knitting and ended up being comfortable with a dpn as a cable needle. The technique I am covering today is to do cables without a needle at all.
I originally looked up this technique because I wanted something that was going to help my French Cancan go faster. I tried this technique a couple times, but by then I already had a really good rhythm going with the dpn. I would stick it through my ponytail when I was done and whip it out when I needed it.


I think I might give these a more honest try when I get around to finishing my grandmothers sweater since that thing is COVERED in cables. Anything that might make it do a little faster. The cables on that sweater are a little thinner too, so it might work a bit better than something with a wider width.

Whether or not needle-less cables are for me, I think it is an interesting technique and there are entire classes taught about it. I would be very interested in taking one sometime to see if there is a ground breaking technique not found on youtube and how well it works. Maybe after Vogue Knitting Live Chicago, I’ll find another conference that will have that opportunity.

Technical Tuesday: Twisted

Whenever I am first teaching someone to knit the hardest concept to impart is twisted stitches. For some it is natural to wrap the yarn clockwise around the needle and create a stitch that is twisted. While this is by no means ‘wrong’ it is important to know the difference between a twisted stitch and a regular stitch. The second part to knowing the difference between the two, is knowing how to fix a twisted stitch.

Here are a few videos about how to fix twisted or backwards stitches.

Unfortunately there is not too much to say about this kind of technique because it is something you need to see in order to recognize. Note that when used correctly they can add body and texture to knitting, so don’t think they are always a mistake. I have seen patterns, mostly with cables, that add in twisted stitches for a little extra umph. For newer knitters though, this can be a pitfall you wish to avoid. I strongly suggest getting to know what a twisted stitch looks like, eventually you will be able to feel it in your knitting as you go along.

I usually get them when I have picked up a whole bunch of stitches because I had to frog something down. Rest assured that this is something everyone goes through. The way I learned about twisted stitches was from frogging a bottom-up sweater from the shoulders down to the armpits, I picked up the stitches again but they looked wrong. At this point in my knitting career I didn’t know what was wrong or how to fix it, so I ended up frogging the whole thing. Later I realized that all the stitches were twisted, At the time I had just assumed that I split the yarn when I was picking up the stitches. Learn from my mistakes and avoid needless frogging!

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!

Monday Mishaps: A Ball of a Different Kind

This week’s Monday Mishap is brought to you by Paul’s baseball team! When this mishap happened, he wasn’t actually on the team yet, we were just going to watch the game and have dinner with some friends. The games are in St Catharines and this one was at 6:00pm, that means we have to leave at 5:00pm and we finish work at 4:30pm. I know it is Monday but if you complete that math, we had approximately 15 minutes to grab our stuff and go.

Since I was going to be watching a baseball game I was, obviously, going to bring some knitting. My problem was, I didn’t really have anything started. Yes, I had Shauna’s mittens, but there are multiple colours and several balls of yarn that go with it. I didn’t want to haul everything out to a baseball field and have it come back in a tangled snarl.

Instead of stopping to consider my options I proceeded to run around like a chicken with my head cut off. I pulled out drawers and rifled through them, looked through old bags I had stored yarn in. Just looking for SOMETHING easy I could take with me. Since I didn’t have something easy, I ended up shoving my grandmother’s sweater into a bag and found some baby blue yarn that had the potential for a baby blanket.

Cables of Sweater

I figured the blue yarn would be great for making a snuggle sack for my newest nephew, due in July. The snuggle sacks are all stockinet so If I was feeling particularly brain dead I could always cast on that. I really wanted to work on my grandma’s sweater though. I need to get that done soon. We headed out the door at five and I was fully intent on making progress on this sweater.

When we got to the field we discovered the game had JUST been cancelled, so not only did we drive 45 minutes for a game that was no longer happening, I wouldn’t be able to work on any knitting. The night ended up being pretty good regardless of my scrambling before we left. A group of six of us ended up playing Cards Against Humanity.

Cards_Against_Humanity_Box

What I have learned from this experience is to always have something on hand I can grab and go. I think I will start several easy projects JUST for this purpose! I usually don’t think I need to get my knitting in order until it is already too late.