The Concept of Cable Knitting

I’m taking a class at my local yarn shop to learn the art of cable knitting. We are using Debbie Macomber’s Cabled Sampler Scarf pattern, available for free here. I was intimidated by cables at first but now I’m two thirds of the way through the second cabled section and it is coming very easy to me. You’d want to follow a pattern the first time you try cables but in case you’re not sure what they are or how they work let me introduce you to the process.

This is a cable needle. It is short in length and the ends are bit thicker than the middle. I bought a package with small, medium, and large (thickness) needles. They are not sized and so the size does not have to correspond exactly to your project needles. I’m knitting my scarf on size 6 US double points so I picked the medium size cable needle.


To start with you knit like normal, using just your dpns and going back and forth, knitting and purling as directed. You only use your cable needle in one row out of several which was a surprise to me. Eventually you’ll reach a point where the patterns says, for ex., “C6B” meaning “cable 6 back”. You divide the 6 in half equaling 3. Slip three stitches from your left hand needle on to your cable needle. Then slide the stiches to the middle of the cable needle so they stay (thus the thicker ends).


Now in this case I was cabling 6 back so I’m going to let the cable needle hang out behind the other needles. (In a cable forward you would flop the cable needle out in front of the work.) Now go ahead and knit 3 more stitches off of the left needle on to the right. You may need to snug up that first stitch since this is kind of awkward to do.


At this point I have knitted the 3 stitches from the left hand needle. See how the cable needle is just hanging out in back of the work? Now I’m ready to go back and use those stitches.


Slide the stitches on the cable needle down to the right end of it. Pull it over and place it in your left hand just like you would do with your left hand double point needle. Now you would knit the stitches off of the cable needle on to the right hand needle. This is my favorite part: once you knit the stitches off the cable needle there is nothing left on it so you can sit it aside for now. Then you can just continue knitting as the pattern suggests until you reach another “C6B” or other cable pattern. For some reason I pictured multiple cable needles holding stitches all over my work which is, thankfully, not the case at all.


This is what a “C6B” does as part of the sampler scarf.


I don’t know about you but I would often come across beautiful cable patterns and wish that I could knit them. I’m excited to finish this scarf so I can use my new skill on other projects. Do you have any experience with cables? If not, I hope you’ll try it!


4 thoughts on “The Concept of Cable Knitting

  1. Farmer's Daughter

    Wow! I’m impressed. Those cables look great.

    I swear that someday I’m going to learn more than knit and purl. I wish they had classes like that around here that were convenient to my schedule!

  2. Abbi

    I did a baby sweater with cables once and loved the way it turned out. (It wasn’t at all perfect as I am no expert in knitting but it was fun!) My other experience with cables was when I decided to make a scarf from “yarn” I had made by cutting old t-shirts into thin strips. It was fun and funky and a pretty easy place to put cables into. Cables are very fun in my mind because they look so complicated but they actually aren’t so very hard.
    Thinking about it makes me want to do some knitting!


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