Cabling without a cable needle

Berroco Tuscan Tweed™ is my favorite of our new fall yarns, and I especially love it in cables, which is why I used cables on all three of the designs I created in this yarn, Adelaide (a free cardigan pattern from Berroco), Ravenna (a tam I designed for Creative Knitting magazine), and Wickford (a cardigan pattern from Twist Collective). A great trick for working cables more quickly is to make them without a cable needle. It takes a little practice before this technique becomes second nature, but I think you’ll find that once you’re used to it, the cables will fly off your needles.

When you make a cable, you’re simply working the stitches in a different order, which causes some stitches to cross over others. Whether you hold the stitches you’re crossing in the front or the back will determine whether your cable slants to the left or to the right.

In the examples below, we’re going to work 4-stitch cables, crossing 2 knit stitches over 2 knit stitches. You can also watch a video on the technique at the bottom of this post.

Wickford cardigan knitting pattern in Berroco Tuscan Tweed

Back-crossed cables (cables slanting to the right):
C4R, normally worked “sl 2 sts to cn and hold to back, k2, k2 from cn”

  1. Slip all 4 sts “involved” in the cable from the left needle to the right needle.
  2. Insert left needle into the BACK of the first 2 sts you slipped.
  3. Pull your right needle out of the 4 sts, and immediately catch the 2 loose sts. Don’t panic! As long as you do this quickly without manipulating the stitches very much, you shouldn’t drop any stitches.
  4. Place them back onto the left needle, and knit all 4 sts.

Front-crossed cables (cables slanting to the left):
C4L, normally worked “sl 2 sts to cn and hold to front, k2, k2 from cn”

This is worked in exactly the same way, except for step 2.

  1. Slip all 4 sts “involved” in the cable from the left needle to the right needle.
  2. Insert left needle into the FRONT of the first 2 sts you slipped.
  3. Pull your right needle out of the 4 sts, and immediately catch the 2 loose sts.
  4. Place them back onto the left needle, and knit all 4 sts.

That’s all there is to it! You can extrapolate this technique to other kinds of cables—for example, cables that have purl stitches, and different numbers of stitches. Personally, I don’t usually attempt it for cables larger than 8 sts (4 over 4), as it does get harder to get your “loose” stitches back on the needle the more of them you have.

Adelaide free cardigan knitting pattern in Berroco Tuscan Tweed

Here’s a video demonstrating how to work both C4R and C4L cables without a cable needle.

For additional information, you can watch Creative Knitting’s editor Kara Gott-Warner’s Facebook live event here.

You can use this technique to knit any of the patterns I designed for the Berroco Tuscan Tweed Knit- or Crochet-along! Let me know if this helps you with your cable knitting!

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