Quick Guide to Cable Knitting

September 13, 2022 3 min read 0 Comments

Quick Guide to Cable Knitting

If you have admired the beautifully textured raised columns or twists on knitted sweaters and blankets and think that you don't have the knitting skills to create them, keep reading. Cable knitting is surprisingly simple to work. The idea is that when you knit groups of stitches out of their usual order, it creates texture and shaping.  

There are an unlimited number of knitted cable combinations and new ones are being discovered all the time. Our hope is that this guide to cable knitting will encourage you to use this type of knitting to create new and exciting projects.

How to Cable Knit


Any knitting technique that involves crossing a series of stitches over other stitches is referred to as cable knitting. Cable knitting allows you to create braiding, twists, patterns, and many other unique, textured effects. 


To work a cable, place a set of stitches onto a cable needle and hold them at either the front or back of the piece while you knit another set of stitches. When the pattern calls for it, work the stitches onto the cable needle, which moves the cable needle stitches and creates a textured column. 


If cable knitting is new for you, make a swatch before starting on your garment. Cabling can result in your fabric having a bit of shrinkage, so it is best to anticipate this by knitting a swatch.

Reading Cable Patterns


When reading a pattern that includes cable knitting, you may see an abbreviation such as C6B. The C stands for cable, the number lets you know how many stitches you add to the cable needle, and the final letter- either F or B, lets you know whether to hold the cable stitches in the front or the back. 

Cable stitches held in the front will appear to twist to the left, so sometimes you may see C6L- for left. An abbreviation that reads C6R is the same as C6B and will be held in back.
In cable knitting, the number of rows between cables will typically be represented by the cabled row. For example, for a C6B, you will work five rows and then the cable row, for a total of six rows. 

Many knitters find cable charts to be easier to follow. When reading a chart for flat knitting, read right side rows from right to left and wrong side rows from left to right. Charts have numbers up the side so that you can keep track of where you are so far in the pattern. 

How to Buy Cable Needles


There are many options when it comes to buying cable needles. It is possible to cable knit without using a cable needle, but it isn't recommended for beginners.   

The most basic cable needle is straight, short, and has points at both ends. Your cable needle should be smaller than your primary needles so that there is limited stretching. 

Some cable needles have a "V" in the middle, allowing the stitches to stay on. Other cable needles are shaped like a "U" allowing you to let go once the stitches are on it. The stitches slide onto the shorter end and knit off the longer end. 

Our Favorite Cable Knit Patterns

Some of our most popular knitting kits include cable knitting. It is not surprising, since cables add dimension, texture, and styling to any knitted garment. 

River Cable Pullover

The classic, funnel-neck pullover sweater has mesmerizing cables and is knitted with hand dyed yarn.

Amstel Shrug

It doesn't matter which way you wear this shrug because the cables are reversible! The center cable symbolizes the river Amstel, which gave the medieval city of Amsterdam its name. 

Chimney Fire Sweater

Designed by Melissa J. Goodale of Stick Chick Knits, this cabled cardigan will be an elegant staple to add to your wardrobe and will indeed be a pleasure to knit. 

From subtle curves to twists and turns, create the visual appeal and texture you desire in your knitted projects with cable knitting. 



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