Knitting Successful Cables

Hello everyone!  I’ve been asked to create a knitting tutorial on how to knit successful cables.  First left me begin by saying these are easily executed by any level of knitter – from beginner to advanced.  The only requirement or prerequisite is you must know how to Purl (P) as well as Knit (K).

I enjoy making cabled patterns – they are one of my favorite knitting patterns to knit.  While they used to intimidate I taught myself how to knit them successfully.   There are many configurations of cables but I’m going to take you step by step through the process of creating a 3×3 cable as I term it.  This cable pattern uses a total of 6 sts to create the cable itself and the “frame” around it uses 3 sts on each side.  You will need a total of 12 sts to knit this cable.

This is a pictorial and written tutorial.  I find this method beneficial to successful learning.  I am a visual/audio learner so I find it helpful when using a written tutorial to have it include photos of each step.  Ready?  Here we go!

To begin with I am going to give you the pattern followed by the photo/written tutorial:

Materials List:

Size 9 needles (24″ circular needles work best if you have them)

220 yds or more of Worsted weight yarn to obtain a nice length scarf or scarflette. I highly recommend Cascade 220 for this project as it contains 220 yds hence the name!

Cable needle

Cable Pattern:

Cast on (CO) 24 stitches (sts) using Long Tail CO method.

Rows 1-4:  Knit (K) every row. (Garter Stitch)

Row 5:  Slip (sl) 1 purl wise (pw), K5, place marker (pm), K1, P2, K6, P2, K1, pm, K to end (6).

Row 6:  Sl 1 pw, K 5, slip marker (sm), P 1, K2, P6, K2, P1, sl m, K to end.

Row 7:  Sl 1 pw, K 5, sm, K1, P2, Sl 3 sts pw to cable needle (cn), hold cn in front, K next 3 sts from left needle, K 3 sts from cn, P2, K1, K to end of row.

Row 8:  Sl 1 pw, K 5, sm, P1, K2, P6, K2, P1, sm, K to end of row.

Repeat Rows 5-8 of pattern to desired length of CABLE, then repeat Rows 5 & 6 once more.

Knit in Garter Stitch (GS) 4 more rows for opposite end border.  Bind Off (BO) using your favorite BO method.  I prefer Gramma’s Favorite Bind Off method as it lends a loose “chain crocheted” looking edge.
Now we will go through step by step with photos and written instructions of the above pattern!

First photo is of the CO stitches (sts).

24 sts CO.

Cast on 24 sts using Long Tail Cast on method.
Cast on 24 sts using Long Tail Cast on method.

Next:

Garter Stitch (GS) border of scarf or scarflette.  4 rows of Knit every row.  Rows 1-4.
Garter Stitch (GS) border of scarf. 4 rows of Knit every row. Rows 1-4.

After which you will slip the first stitch of each row of the cable pattern rows pw!  Here is a photo to help you with that concept if you’ve not performed this before.   Performing this every row creates a lovely edge to the scarf I find quite attractive.

Slipping first stitch PW every row to create an attractive edge to the scarf/scarflette.
Slipping first stitch PW every row creating  an attractive edge to the scarf.

Next photo shows the position of the working yarn after slipping the first st pw.

Shows the position of the yarn after first st is slipped pw.
Shows the position of the yarn after first st is slipped pw.

Back to straight knitting with the yarn correct position.

Move the yarn to back of your work and simply knit the next sts.
Move the yarn to back of your work and simply knit the next sts.
Executing the first K st after sl st.
Executing the first K st after sl st.
Regular knitting - easy once you see it right?!
Plain knitting – easy once you see it right?!

Now for the cabling section!

Sl 1 st to the cable needle (cn) purl wise (pw).
Sl 1 st to the cable needle (cn) purl wise (pw).
Sl second st to cn pw.
Sl second st to cn pw.
And finally sl the 3rd st to the cn pw.
And finally sl the 3rd st to the cn pw.
Holding your cn in FRONT of your knitting needles
Holding your cn in FRONT of your knitting needles

Next you will:

Knit the next 3 sts from your LEFT needle
Knit the next 3 sts from your LEFT needle.
You are now ready to knit from the CN.
You are now ready to knit from the CN.
Bring your CN to normal position of left needle, insert your right needle and K off CN.
Bring your CN to normal position of left needle, insert your right needle and K off CN.
Repeat with second st on CN.
Repeat with second st on CN.
Repeat with final (3rd) st from CN.
Repeat with 3rd (final) st from CN.
This is what your cable should look like at this point.
This is what your cable should look like when you’ve finished with that portion.

The following photo is what your cable should look like at the end of the row:

Your cable should look like this after you've completed Row 7.
Your cable should look like this after you’ve completed Row 7.

Now you’re ready to finish your cable section by:  P2, K1, sm, K to end of row.

I have not included any tutorial photos of the row following (Row 8)  as it is simply following the pattern with nothing special – just remember to sl your markers as you come to them.

I am including a photo of where I am in the progress of this scarf.

Cabled patterns build quickly and projects are completed quickly.  Another reason I love knitting them.
Cabled patterns build quickly  – yet another reason I enjoy making cabled projects!

***NOTE:  A helpful hint to keep track of your cable rows is to make a chart checking off which row you completed.  I make charts of this type before I begin knitting the project.  This is in addition to using your row counter or  a separate piece of paper keeping track of your total row count.  I realize there are knitters that check off the row they are currently working vs the row they just completed.  I find in knitting cables it is confusing to use the former method.  You really don’t want to miss count as cables are on the difficult side to tink (knit spelled backwards) them and get them right. *** 

Just as with any other technique you learn the more you knit cables the better you will be at making them and they won’t intimidate you at all.  After I completed my first cabled pattern successfully I chose 3 patterns each one a bit more complex than the previous to build on what I’d learned and to challenge myself.  I am confident when knitting cables now as a result of having done so.  If this sounds like a good idea for yourselves I highly recommend perusing Ravelry for patterns.  Many are free!

Cable needles can consist of a double point needle (dpn), pencil, anything that is straight and double ended.  I’ve been known to use a straw (unused of course) when I had nothing else to use.  You always pick sts from left needle with one end of the cn and knit off the opposite end when knitting from it. If I just made this clear as mud please go back to photos and/or ask for clarification.  My point in sharing this info with you is if you don’t have an actual CN and don’t have the finances to spare to purchase a set of them it’s really okay.  I’ve also been known to use one of my needles from one of my interchangeable needle sets as a CN.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  Please feel free to leave questions and comments.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Knitting!

The Linnster ♥

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