Cabling Cable Needle Free (No Fear!)

I have gorgeous cable needles – the Knit Picks Harmony ones with the pretty colors. I never use them. I did once. I was making this sweater, which uses a cable needle every three stitches or something totally nuts like that. I got pretty good at juggling the extra needle, though, sticking it in my mouth like a cigarette when it wasn’t in use. I didn’t even realize that I did this until my two year old asked, “I help, Mama?” and proceeded to hold the cable needle between her lips! But I digress.

A cable needle is totally unnecessary, and the sooner I figured this out, the happier I was. It isn’t really as scary as it is made out to be. Yes, you do have to slide live stitches off the needles momentarily. Breathe. Just breathe. I have never lost any stitches doing this. It will be okay. So, here is my little tutorial –

Cabling Free the woolandchocolate way:

1. Get ready to cable. Take a deep breath. Don’t run for your cable needle. You can do this.

2. Read your pattern and determine how many stitches are involved in the cable. My pattern says to work a 6 st LC (which is written out in the pattern like this “6-st LC = Sl3 sts to cn, hold to front. K3, K3 from cn.”- in plain english that means that three stitches are going to cross over the front of the next three. Pass all the stitches involved in the cable to the right needle (in my case, 6):

3. Determine which stitches are in the front and which are in the back. My cable is a left cross, that is the first three stitches cross over the front of the second three to make a left cross cable. This means that I will need to bring my left needle to the front of the work and use it to grab those front stitches.

4. Now it’s time to pull your right needle out of all stitches. Use your left hand to hold all the stitches in place and gently slide the right needle free of the six stitches of the cable.
 Observe the three live stitches sitting there waiting patiently. They are fine. They are patient. All is well. 

5. Use your right needle to rescue the three free stitches.

6. Now pull the right needle across the back and put the second three stitches on the left needle.

7. Knit across the six cabled stitches.

A right cross cable is cabled to the back. In that case, when you get to step 3 you will grab the first three stitches in the back of the work and then (in step 6) bring your right needle across the front to rescue the live stitches. In this way, the second three stitches are pulled across the front of the work while the first three stitches are held in the back.

Now you are free from the cable needle juggling forever! But don’t throw away those beautiful little needles – they make great shawl pins!

4 thoughts on “Cabling Cable Needle Free (No Fear!)

  1. While I like the idea of cabling without a cable needle, I just don’t think it’s for me…at least, not with that many stitches. A left/right twist cable is fine…I can do that without a cable needle. Maybe even one with four stitches…haven’t tried it, though.

    I think I’ll stick to my cable needle, at least for now…

  2. Just wanted to thank you! I am making my son a sweater for christmas and it has a ton of cables, a cable needle would make it tedious work. I was debating what to do when i remembered about your tutorial so a quick search later and viola – YOU are a GENIUS

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