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February 2012

January 2012

Cables - forget your fear

Chatting to new knitters, and indeed those who have been knitting for a while, the fear of cables comes up quite regularly. They'll say something along the lines of loving a particular cable pattern but that they wouldn't know where to start. It's a pity because really if you do stocking stitch neatly there is nothing to be afraid off.

So here is my humble attempt to demystify the cable needle.

Cables are twists, braids or other raised textures created by changing the order stitches are worked. They are typically worked in stocking stitch panels surrounded by reverse stocking stitch (purl on right side, knit on wrong side, so that the "bumps" are on the right side).


  • Proj 025
  • Knit 090a
  • Proj 079
Proj 079

The basic cable pattern I'm using here is worked in DK yarn using 4.5mm needles and a cable needle (CN) which is a short double pointed needle which allows you to pick up stitches with one end and knit them on the other - don't worry that will make sense in a moment.

Cast on 31.

Row 1: P7, K6, P5, K6, P7 

Row 2: K7, P6, K5, P6, K7

Repeat these rows twice more.

At this point you have a series of stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch and are ready to make your first cable twists.


Proj 001

 Row 7: P7, C6F, P5, C6B, P7.

"C6F" is the first cable instruction. The C tells you it is a cable, the 6 that it is worked over six stitches and the F tells you what to do with your cable.

In this case the instruction note for C6F reads: Place the next 3 stitches on the CN and hold to the front of your work (F means front).


Proj 002

 The instruction continues: K3 from the left needle, ...


Proj 003

  ... then K3 from the CN.


Proj 004

 This produces a left leaning twist.

Proj 006

 The second cable instruction C6B means Place the next 3 stitches on the CN and hold to the back of your work; K3 from the left needle, then K3 from the CN.


Proj 008


This produces a right leaning twist.


Proj 010

Row 8: As row 2.

These 8 rows form the pattern.

The final pattern line means you now repeat the 8 rows for the the length of your piece to create regular cable pattern.


Proj 011The pottern after 3 repeats

Cables may also be presented on a chart using symbols - a chart for this cable could look csomething like this where the empty squares represent knit stitches on the right side and purls on the wrong side, dots are purls on the right side and the crossing symbols indicate the cables. Charts always come with a key to explain them and while they may seem daunting at first, they are useful in showing what your knitting will look like.

Cable A

 This is a basic cable pattern but any type will be explained in the same way, with information on the number of stitches and how many go on the CN either at the front or back.

Once you have mastered this basic tachnique, all types of cable follow the same principles, so the cable world is your oyster. Trust the pattern and enjoy.


Having a rubber ball with bangles

 Jewel 041

 It may lead to be hanging about in plumbing supply shops, but inspired by something I saw on my recent travels and by various jewellery trends of the moment I've been experimenting with wire and rubber combos for jewellery. These are prototypes and experiments but they are leading to what will be finished pieces shortly.


Jewel 039Silver wire and odd earing


Jewel 040

 Coloured wire coils


Jewel 037


Torc type necklace with pendant...

Jewel 038



Knitting with hard sums


This week I've been learning about tech editing - the art of checking, editing and grading (sizing) knitting patterns - from the highly regarded tech editor and excellent teacher Jen Arnall-Culliford, who has worked on The Knitter magazine and books such as A Stitch in Time Vol 2.

Tech editing is about making sure knitting patterns work, ie you can understand them, that they tell you the right number of stitches at all times, that they will fit, that you have the right amount of yarn, etc. 

It is about a lot more that just liking knitting, although that helps. It requires an understanding of garment construction, attention to detail, technical understanding of knitting stitches and instructions and sums - and not just the easy adding up ones.

Pythagoras and square roots feature significantly which for me was great - I love sums - but may not be for everyone.

We did have to think and there was lots to learn but we also laughed a lot. I would recommend Jen as a teacher.

For me this was an inspiring course that showed me that I could bring together my organisational, knitting and publishing skills together in a new and satisfying way.

So now I'm fired up to use my new skills and am setting off to promote this new string to my freelance bow.



Win, win

Yarn 040
Look at this lovely selection yarns which I was lucky enough to win in the p/hop Christmas competition.

They were donated by Loop and are Dye for Yarn tussah silk lace (blue), Heaven's Hand Silke (green) and Viola merino lace.

Even better on the day my prize reached me, I also heard that I'd won some stitch markers in the Subway Knits queue clearance KAL draw. This is an effort to actually knit pattern that have been languishing in our Ravelry queues. 

Now some plotting and planning is required.