It’s probably not surprising that several patterns in Cosy Knits make use of cables. Cables create a textured, thicker fabric which is comforting and cosy. It is interesting however that each of the pattern uses cables in slightly different ways. In Móin cables are worked in stockinette stitch over a striped garter stitch background, making them almost float along the surface. In Ballintemple and Lackenduff the cables are kept small and subtle which creates a flatter fabric with less bulk. The final project that uses cables is Inglenook which has only 2 cables on the garment but they are big, fat and full of texture!
Anatomy of a Cable
If you are new to cables they can be pretty intimidating. However all you are doing is moving stitches around and then knitting or purling them! It only seems complicated because you’ve got to move stitches to another needle to get them out of the way.
Cables can be any number of stitches crossed over each other and you can cross knit with knit stitches or knit with purl stitches. When you cross knit and purl stitches the purl stitches will stay at the back. In cables knit stitches ‘stand’ out’ and purl ones pull towards the back. This means that the knit stitches are the dominate ones that you want to be standing out at the front.
In these videos you can see knit and purl stitches being crossed in cables.
How to Read Cable Charts
If you are new to reading cable charts there are a few different ways to make reading charts easier.
To start with get some highlighters plus either a chart holder or highlighter tape. Now take each cable listed in the ‘key’ and highlight it a different colour and then go through the chart highlighting the cables with the corresponding colour you picked for that cable in the key. This simple step can be a lifesaver, at a quick glance you can immediately identify which cable is which. If there are several different cable types you remove any risk of making a mistake.
Now after you highlight and recognise the cable the next step is to figure out how to work the cable. If you are new to cables what you will do is identify the cable name from the key and then go to the techniques section and follow the directions on how to work that cable.
As you get more comfortable with cables you will begin to memorise the cables and you won’t need to look them up every time any more.
Finally when you get very comfortable with cables and charts the final step is to learn to read the chart directly. All the information you need about the cable is directly in the chart: How many stitches are used in the cable, how many stitches cross over each other and if you are crossing knit or knit/purl stitches.
I’ve previously written a blog post on this that might be useful if you want to step up your cable game:
Tools for Cables
In order to cross cables you want to use a cable needle of some sort to hold those stitches to help you move them around. (You can also use a technique to cable without a cable needle that you can find below).
When you use a cable needle you will need to be able to put the stitches on it and hang it at the front or back of your work while you work other stitches. For this reason you need a way for the stitches to stay safely on that needle. Most commercial cable needles that are in plastic or metal use some kind of ‘dip’ or bend in the centre of the needle to hold the stitches in place. I often find these a bit slippy and my preference is for wooden cable needles. These can either be short needles that have ridges or bumps carved into them to hold the stitches or even wooden double pointed needles that have got enough natural grip to hold the stitches in place.
Cables without a Cable Needle
Now if you would like to try cabling without a needle you can check these videos out. This technique can be used on cables up to 3 x 3 stitches crossed. Larger than that and it becomes a bit tricky to hold the stitches safely. In this technique you put the right needle into the second part of the cable stitches, put your finger on the first ones in the cross to hold them safe and then slide all the stitches off. Then you can put the first stitches held with your finger onto the left needle and move the other stitches from the right to left needle. This then has re orientated the stitches and they can just be knit or purled as presented.
If you want to check out all my cable tutorials you can find the cable page here.
If you want to try out any of these patterns you can find kits that include the book, yarn and extra goodies here.
Don’t forget to add your finished project to the Cosy Knits finished photo thread here to be in the raffle drawing.