Have you ever admired cable knitting but thought “That looks a bit too tricky for me”? Well, never fear, we’ve caught up with the Queen of Cables (and the editor of Knit & Stitch Creative), Lynne Watterson to ask her advice. Cables add texture and surface pattern to your knitting and you can create some stunning effects – so it’s a technique that’s well worth mastering.
Cables look complicated – what’s the benefit of using them in knitting?
The sinuous lines of cables, combined with other stitches, can be used to create rich and fascinating patterns and even a single cable can add interest to a garment or item of homeware. There’s also a rich tradition of cable knitting patterns to explore, with hundreds of patterns to try.
Do you need any special equipment for cable knitting?
Yes: you need a cable needle. This is a short, double-pointed needle that you use to manipulate your stitches. There are three types of cable needle; you get straight ones, needles that feature a pronounced bend in the centre, and needles that have a distinct hook at one end. The design of the last two types helps prevent stitches slipping off while you work.
What do you do with a cable needle?
The raised patterns formed by cable knitting are created by manipulating groups of stitches so that they change position at regular intervals – ridges appear to ‘travel’ and criss-cross over your knitting. To achieve this you need to slip stitches onto a cable needle and then either hold that at the back or front of the knitting (depending on your pattern).
Are there any special techniques to master?
You do need to be able to handle the cable needle. For example, your pattern might call for 4 stitches to be slipped onto the cable needle and then be held at the front of your work while you knit 4 stitches from the left knitting needle. For the next step, you need to manoeuvre the cable needle into position so you can then knit the 4 stitches on it. To see a cable needle in action, have a look at the how-to video for the single cable panel in issue 46 [insert link here].
Is there any different terminology used in cable knitting?
When you are working a cable pattern you will come across abbreviations such as ‘C4B’ or ‘C6F’ – these mean ‘cable 4 back’ and ‘cable 6 front’. For C4B you slip 2 stitches onto your cable needle, then hold it at the back while you work the next 2 stitches, before working the 2 stitches from the cable needle; for C6F you slip 3 stitches onto the cable needle and hold it at the front while you work the next 3 stitches and then work the 3 stitches from the cable needle. Whenever new terms and abbreviations appear in your Knit & Stitch Collection you will find a full explanation in the pattern. For more information on cable techniques, have a look at issue 14 of Knit & Stitch Creative.
Have you any top cable tips?
With any new technique it is well worth trying it out before embarking on a big project. Use some spare yarn and have a go at either of the patchwork collection squares in issue 46. If you find it tricky to knit the stitches from the cable needle when completing the ‘twist’ of your cable, you can slip them back onto the left knitting needle and then knit them as usual.
Are there any great cable projects in Knit & Stitch Creative that we could try?
There are a range of different cable projects that show just how versatile cables can be. If you want to make a garment using cables, then you could have a go at the sleeveless top in issue 14 or the short skirt in issue 20. Alternatively, try your hand at an accessory featuring cables with the beaded evening bag in issue 28. Or, for homewares, you could make the hot-water bottle cover in issue 24 or the picture panels in issue 34.