Knit Faster: How to Cable without a Cable Needle

The Bayerische sock pattern features cable cross overs on every single row, hence why I learnt to cable without a cable needle!

I first learned how to cable without a cable needle when I started knitting my Bayerische Socks. These bad boys were the first socks I ever made, with 200 stitch rounds and crossovers on every row. Some might call me mad; I like to think I am optimistic.

I quickly realised that I might end up pulling my hair out if I didn't learn to cable without a cable needle. And let me tell you: once I'd learnt, it felt like magic! I couldn't believe I was able to conjure up these beautiful cables with such a simple technique.

Learn how to cable without a cable needle

Cable knitting is beautiful. In fact, it's one of my absolute favourite things to knit. However, it can be rather cumbersome. For a start, it is time-consuming. Pausing to reach for your cable needle to hold the stitches only slows you down. Additionally, this style of cable knitting is not very travel friendly; scrambling around on the floor of the train because your cable needle dropped out is not the best situation to be found in...

But rejoice! This will no longer be a problem when you learn this simple technique. Soon, you will be able to take your cable knits anywhere and save time in the process!

I know that each knitter learns in different ways so, to cater to as many of you as possible, I will not only be showing you the technique in a video, but also in photographs with written instructions below.

METHOD

I suggest that you grab some scrap yarn and practice with that first. Chunky yarn that is a bit "sticky", such as wool, will make it easier, as it will help to avoid laddering the live stitches.

We will start with a simple 2x2 cable, both left and right leaning, so that you get the hang of it.

 
 

Right Leaning Cable

  1. Put the right-hand needle into the front of the 3rd and 4th stitches on the left-hand needle from right to left.
  2. Slip these stitches onto the right-hand needle, which will force the 1st and 2nd stitch off too, resulting in two live stitches.
  3. Using the left-hand needle, catch those live stitches at the back of the work before they ladder. Double check the stitches are not twisted.
  4. Slip the two stitches from the right-hand needle back onto the left. You should now see that you have created a cable cross, leaning to the right.
  5. To finish, knit across those 4 stitches.
 
 

Left Leaning Cable

  1. Put the left-hand needle into the back of the 3rd and 4th stitches on the right-hand needle from right to left.
  2. Slip these stitches onto the right-hand needle, which will force the 1st and 2nd stitch off too, resulting in two live stitches.
  3. Using the left-hand needle, catch those live stitches at the front of the work before they ladder. Double check the stitches are not twisted.
  4. Slip the two stitches from the right-hand needle back onto the left. You should now see that you have created a cable cross, leaning to the left.
  5. To finish, knit across those 4 stitches.

Notes:

You will find that it feels quite fiddly at first, particularly with the live stitches just hanging there, so feel free to use your fingers to hold them in place before you catch them on the needle. I promise: it gets much easier (and faster!) with practice.

Once you become more confident, you will be able to approach more advanced cable crosses, using the same technique, but with different numbers of stitches. The key with this is to be able to 'read' your knitting. This will help you to look at a cable chart and visualise exactly what you need to do to execute the cable without a cable needle.

Keep going!

Keep on practising your cabling with scrap yarn and once you feel like you've got the hang of it, try moving on to a small project, such as my free cabled hat knitting pattern, Rilo. This hat features 2x2 cables, both right and left leaning, as well as some simple 2x1 travelling cables too. Practising this technique in the context of a small project will encourage you to keep going, as you'll be rewarded with something to wear at the end of it.

Once you've mastered this technique, you will never have to worry about losing your cable needle on-the-go again, plus you are saving yourself a lot of time. Perhaps now is a good time to attempt that Aran Sweater you've been eyeing up?

FREE KNITTING PATTERN

RILO HAT

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