Picking It Apart | Cable Knitting

Ever since I published my first pattern, the Meaning of Life Scarf, I have received tons of questions about cable knitting. As with many things in life, it’s easy once you know how. So I’ll show you how.

Smooshy cable love

At the bottom of this post you can find a really simple step-by-step PDF tutorial from knitpicks.com, but for me, tutorials only make sense if I understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. If I don’t, all the little pattern abbreviations just jumble together and I can’t make sense of anything.

Why Are Cables Cool?

  • They add a lot of visual interest to a large swath of stockinette stitch.
  • Depending on the design of the rest of the piece, they can look classic, Celtic or like you want to be a boat captain.
  • They can act like ribbing, making the fabric more smooshy and warm, and more forgiving on the fit.
Cable Knitting

Cables are literally twisting columns of stitches right off the needles to make a uniquely textured design, but most of the work is plain old stockinette stitch. In this pattern you’re only doing a twist every 12 rows on each side, every 6 rows between the front and back cables.In the Meaning of Life Scarf pattern, I write my cabling as follows:

  • C2F – cable 2 forward
  • C2B – cable 2 back
  • C4F – cable 4 forward
  • C4B – cable 4 back

Let’s take C2F for example. We will be working with 4 stitches total and using three steps. You will need a cable needle, although a a double-pointed needle or paperclip can also work in a pinch.

  1. Slip two stitches onto a cable needle hold them to the front of the work.
  2. Knit two stitches off the left needle.
  3. Knit the two stitches you reserved on the cable needle.

Conversely, in the C4 examples you would be working with 8 stitches total and slipping 4 stitches onto the cable needle.

That’s it! See how easy? Go check out the tutorial.

Cabling can, however, get out of hand

Further Reading