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Cracking the cable code part 3: Unusual cables

In this third and final post on understanding cabling, well be looking at how to understand more complex or unusual cables which may really be the ones that make you feel the pattern is like this.

image from

In the earlier posts I looked at cables that use just the knit stitch and ones that use both knits and purls and about understanding what stitches go on the cable needle and whether these cross at the front or back of the work. 

I used the abbreviation C for plain cables and Tw for those involving knits and purls. F tells us to hold the cable needle to the front of the work and B sends it to the back.

But the single most important message from those posts is 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.

Some cable instructions need more careful reading because they might need two crochet hooks or as I came across recently to cable stitches already held on a cable needle.

Here I'm going to look at an example using two cable needles to get the stitches in the right order. I use the abbreviation Cr for these cables to indicate they are out of the ordinary. The example is used in these socks to make the cross at the end of each diamond so that the knit stitches cross over but the purl st remains in the centre.

HXsox4Hot cross socks


In this case I have called used the notation "Cr5F" because there are five stitches and the first cable needle is held to the front.

The instruction here is slip the next 2 sts on to the cable needle and hold to front, slip next st on to the second cable needle and hold to back, k2, p1 from the cable needle held at back, k2 from cable needle held at front. 

When you break it down, this is no more complicated that any other cable, except there are two cable needles. The trick is to follow the steps and not worry about the two stitches on the cable needle until the rest of the steps are complete.

The full instructions for this whole cable pattern are:

Round 1: P1, k2, p3, p2tog, yo, p4, k2, p1. (15 sts)
Round 2: P1, k2, p9, k2, p1.
Round 3: P1, Tw3F, p2, yo, sl1 wyif, p2tog tbl, psso, yo, p2, Tw3B, p1.
Round 4: P2, k2, p7, k2, p2.
Round 5: P2, Tw3F, yo, p2tog, p, p2tog tbl, yo, Tw3B, p2.
Round 6: P3, k2, p5, k2, p3.
Round 7: P3, Tw3F, p3, Tw3B, p3.
Round 8: P4, k2, p3, k2, p4.
Round 9: P2, p2tog, yo, Tw3F, p1, Tw3B, yo, p2tog tbl, p2.
Round 10: P5, k2, p, k2, p5.
Round 11: P1, p2tog, yo, p2, C5F, p2, yo, p2tog tbl, p1.
Round 12: Repeat round 10.
Round 13: P2, p2tog tbl, yo, Tw3B, p1, Tw3F, yo, p2tog, p2.
Round 14: Repeat round 8.
Round 15: P3, Tw3B, p3, Tw3F, p3.
Round 16: Repeat round 6.
Round 17: P2, Tw3B, yo, p2tog tbl, p, p2tog, yo, Tw3F, p2.
Round 18: Repeat round 4.
Round 19: P1, Tw3B, p2, yo, sl1 wyif, p2tog tbl, psso, yo, p2, Tw3F, p1.
Round 20: Repeat round 2.

All the cable instructions for this have been covered in the three posts but they can also be shown on a chart.

Hot cross chart

The cable symbols can help you see what way the cables go and what stitches should be at the front when they cross. But even then, with each pattern, make sure you read the instructions careful in case the symbols don't mean what you expect.