How to knit cable stitches
Cable stitches are used in traditional Aran knitting and are a way of raising the pattern to give a cross over effect. In the Scottish Highlands, the Aran knitting was traditionally used for fishermen, and was performed with home spun wool. In this day and age, Aran wool is more easily available, and you can use cable stitch to great effect. The basics are extremely easy, and once you learn them, you will be able to follow patterns for Aran sweaters much more easily. Cable is also used on non traditional work. These stitches give almost a 3 dimensional look to the knitted garment, the cables standing out against their background or interwoven into each other to create a wonderful variety of styles in one sweater or garment.
To practice simple cable cast on 12 stitches. *Purl two knit 8 purl two on the right side of the work. Knit two, purl 8, knit two on the wrong side of the work. Carry on until 8 rows have been worked, thus ending on the right side of the work. Next row. Purl 2, put the next four stitches onto a cable needle and leave these at the front of the work. Work the four knit stitches which are on the other needle and then work the four knits from the right hand side of the cable needle. Purl 2. ** Continue to follow the pattern from * to ** several times to see the cable being formed.
Reverse the cable.
This time, working on the same sample of knitting, the cable will be reversed. It is good practice since this will be asked for in many patterns. Work the row of 2 purl, 8 knit, 2 purl followed by the tow 2 knit, 8 purl, 2 knit, and then the first row again. Now purl 2 and take the first four stitches of knit onto the cable needle. Instead of putting these at the front of the work, place them at the back of the work. Knit the stitches from the main needle, and then work the stitches from the cable needle. You have then crossed the cable in the opposite direction.
Start a cable against a purl background.
If you look at the image above, you will see that this is worked across a background of purl stitches and is very simple to perform. In this case, cast on 12 stiches. On the right side of the work, purl 4, knit 4 purl four. On the reverse side knit 4 purl 4, knit 4. Next row: Purl four, place the next two stitches on the cable needle and put to the front of the work. Knit the next two stitches from the other needle and then the stitches from the cable needle, purl four. The next row is simple. Knit 4, Purl 4, Knit 4.
Moving the cables across the purl background.
With the right side of the work facing you, purl 3, put the next purl onto your cable needle placing at the back of your work. Knit two stitches off the main needle, and then purl the stitch from the cable needle. Put the next 2 knit stitches on the cable needle at the front of the work. Purl one, Knit the stitches from the cable needle, Purl 3. We have thus moved the cable over the background.
Continuing to move the cables.
Knit 3, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2, knit 3. This brings you to the front of the work. Purl two, put the next purl stitch onto the cable needle and place at the back of the work. Knit the next two knit stitches from the needle and then the purl from the cable stitch. Purl until you reach the next cable. Put the two knit stitches onto the cable needle. Purl the next stitch from the main needle, and then knit the two stitches from the cable needle.
Moving cables in and out.
Cables are always moved on the front side of the work, and you can continue to move these in and out following the same logic. All the reverse rows in this pattern are to be knitted and purled as the stitch presents itself, i.e. If the stitch to come is a knit, knit it, and if presented as a purl, purl it.
A variation on cable stitches.
Cables can be made with even a single stitch. Experiment with a four knit stitches in the centre of the work, against a background of four purls either side. On the right side of the work, work as follows: *Purl 2, knit into the front of the second stitch on the left, then work into the first stitch. Knit into the back of the second stitch on the needle and then into the first stitch on the left hand needle, purl two. On the back of the work, the sequence will always be Knit 2, Purl 4, Knit 2. The next row reverses what you just did. Purl two, Knit into the back of the second stitch on the left hand needle, and then work first stitch. Then knit into the front of the second stitch on the needle and then work the next stitch, purl two.** Continue working from * to ** until you see the pattern form. This can be used for very delicate borders, for children’s clothing and smaller items.
Trying your own cables.
Remember now that you can cross over stitches that the stitches you move retain their original knit or purl format, building them into the pattern you are knitting.
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