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Cracking the cable code part 2: Cables with knits and purls

As promised a second post on understanding cabling and stopping patterns appearing to be just a jumble of letters and numbers like this:

image from

In the first post, I looked at cables that only involve knit stitches and breaking down what the notation of a C followed by a number and then F or B might mean, eg C4B, C6F. And it is worth reading this before continuing here.

I also reminded you of the most important thing when approaching a cable pattern:

Always read the pattern notes and the abbreviations.

This is because even if you think you understand the code/convention used for a cable in a pattern, you should double check because unfortunately not everyone sticks to the same approach when writing patterns.

Here we are looking at cables using both knit and purl stitches. These most often crop up where a column of knit stitches slope or curve over a background of reverse stocking stitch, as in the cable panel on the Hot Cross Socks (the cross stitch cable will be discussed in part 3)


One conventional way of indicating a cable involving knits and purls is "Tw". So you might see:

Tw4F      slip next 2 stitches onto the cable needle and hold to front, p2, k2 from cable needle

Tw6B     slip next 3 stitches onto the cable needle and hold to back, k3, p3 from cable needle

You will often come across Tw cables using an uneven number of stitches so it is important to check ho many knit and how many purl stitches it breaks down to. Some examples are:

Tw3F      slip next 2 stitches onto the cable needle and hold to front, p1, k2 from cable needle

Tw5B     slip next 2 stitches onto the cable needle and hold to back, k3, p2 from cable needle

In all these cases the knit stitches cross in front of the purl stitches and this in the most common form of this type of cable.

Open chain (uses C and Tw type cables)

Wide chain    Row 1: P3, k4, p3

    Row 2: K3, p4, k3

    Row 3: P3, C4B, k3

    Row 4: as row 2

    Row 5: P2, Tw3B, Tw3F, p2

    Row 6: K2, p2, k2, p2, k2

    Row 7: P1, Tw3B, p2, Tw3F, p1

    Row 8: K1, p2, k4, p2, k1

    Row 9: P1, k2, p4, k2, p1

    Row 10: As row 8

    Row 11: P1, Tw3F, p2, Tw3B, p1

    Row 12: as row 6

    Row 13: P2, Tw3F, Tw3B, p2

    Row 14: as row 2

    Row 15: as row 3

    Row 16: as row 2

    These 16 rows form pattern