Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

It's not that there is something wrong with cable needles. No. They are helpful little gadgets that make cabling safe and pretty straightforward. But, a cable needle can easily get dropped, lost, left at home or some other place that is not easily accessible at the very moment when you need to make a cable.

Besides, it takes time to slip stitches to and from a cable needle, and those extra seconds add up if the project has a lot of cables.

So, how do we knit cables without a cable needle? In this tutorial, I'll show you three ways to do it. Each of them has its limitations, but together they make a useful toolkit. 

Let's take a look at each of these ways. As usual, you can watch every step explained below in a video tutorial. Click here to get to the video.

WAY #1

I learned this way of cabling without a cable needle from the "Knitting Tips and Trade Secrets" book by The Taunton Press. It's an interesting compilation of tips and tricks provided by many different knitters from all over the United States. And this little technique was one of the tips featured in this book.

It only works for knitting small cables where we need to cross two stitches. These cables are called "one-by-one" cables. You can often see them shown in patterns as 1x1, 1/1, or as abbreviations C2L and C2R.

It is usually quite annoying to knit these cables with a cable needle. Because there are just two stitches to manipulate, the cable needle feels awkward, and the process takes way longer than it should for working so few stitches.

That's why this way of cabling without a cable needle is especially useful. Here's how it works:

LEFT-SLANTING 1X1 CABLE

1. Slip two stitches of the cable one by one knitwise (insert the right needle into the stitch from left to right).

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

2. Now insert the left needle from right to left into those stitches, and slip them together back to the left needle. This way we crossed two stitches without twisting them. 

If the stitches are tight and it's hard to insert the needle into them, it helps to move the stitches closer to the tip of the needle.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

3. Knit these stitches one by one and you will notice that they form a lovely left-slanting cable that is usually marked as C2L in patterns.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

RIGHT-SLANTING 1X1 CABLE

1. Slip two stitches of the cable together to the right needle (as if you were going to knit them together but then changed your mind :-)

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

2. Now slip these two stitches one by one back to the left needle. To avoid twisting them, insert the tip of the left needle into each of the stitches from right to left.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

3. Knit these stitches and watch a right-slanting cable form on your needles.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

As you see, the process for making a right-slanting cable is in a way the opposite of what we do to make a left-slanting cable. First, we slip two stitches together, and then we slip them back one by one, while for a left-slanting cable, we slip stitches one by one first, and then slip them back together.

What is a good way to remember what to do in each of these two cases? For me, it's the similarity between the letter "l" (left) and the digit "1" (slip stitches one by one). It helps me remember that to make a left-slanting cable I should start by slipping stitches one by one. I hope this little trick will help you too :-)

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

WAY #2

This way is a bit scarier than the first one because at some point we'll have to take a few stitches off the needle. The wider the cable, the scarier it may seem. But in reality, there is nothing to worry about. Even though some of the stitches won't be on the needle, we are not going to let them unravel.

I'll show you this way of cabling without a cable needle on a 2x2 cable, but it works for any cable, no matter how wide it is.

LEFT-SLANTING CABLE

1. Bring the working yarn and the right needle to the back of the left needle. 

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

2. Now slip two (or more depending on the width of the cable) stitches off the left needle and hold them with your right thumb and index fingers. 

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

3. Slip the other two stitches from the left needle to the right needle. 

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

It will feel a bit unusual because you will use only three right fingers to manoeuvre the right needle. Don't worry - with just a bit of practice, it's not hard at all.

4. Place the first two stitches (the ones that you are holding with your right thumb and index fingers) on the left needle. Make sure they are not twisted.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

5. Slip the other two stitches from the right needle to the left needle.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

6. Knit all stitches one by one and enjoy the look of the beautiful left-slanting cable you've just created :-)

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

 

RIGHT-SLANTING CABLE

1. Keep the working yarn at the back of the work and place the right needle at the front of the left needle.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

2. Slip two stitches off the left needle and hold them with your right thumb and index fingers.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

3. Slip the other two stitches from the left needle to the right needle. 

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

This little manoeuvre is a bit uncomfortable. Give yourself some time to practice and find a way to make it more or less easy for you.

4. Place the first two stitches (the ones that you are holding with your right thumb and index fingers) on the left needle. Make sure the stitches are not twisted.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

5. Slip the other two stitches from the right needle to the left needle.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

6. Knit all stitches one by one. You've just made a right-slanting cable without using a cable needle :-)

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

WAY #3

This way is the fastest of the three ways, and it is also the scariest. We'll keep the stitches loose for a few moments, and that may seem like a recipe for a knitting disaster, but as you will see in a moment, there is nothing dangerous about loose stitches. They are not going to disappear, especially if we work with non-slippery yarns. 

LEFT-SLANTING CABLE

1. Bring the working yarn and the tip of the right needle to the back of the work.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

2. Slip two (or more depending on the width of the cable) stitches off the left needle, and let them sit at the front of the work. 

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

If you hold the working yarn in your left hand, you can press these loose stitches with your right thumb to the front part of the right needle to make sure they don't unravel. 

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

3. Knit the other two stitches of the cable.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

4. Now use the tip of the left needle to pick up the loose stitches one by one starting with the stitch at the left. To keep them untwisted, insert the tip of the left needle from front to back into each of these stitches.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

5. Knit the stitches you've just picked up. 

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

RIGHT-SLANTING CABLE

1. Keep the working yarn at the back of the work and place the right needle at the front of the left needle.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

2. Slip two (or more depending on the width of the cable) stitches off the left needle, and let them sit at the back of the work. 

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

If you hold the working yarn in your left hand, you can press these loose stitches with your right index finger to the back part of the right needle. 

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

3. Knit the other two stitches of the cable.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

4. Now pick up the loose stitches one by one starting with the stitch at the left. To keep them untwisted, try to insert the tip of the left needle from front to back into each of these stitches. Often it's not easy. If that's the case, pick them up as you can and then untwist them (if necessary) as you knit them.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

5. Knit the stitches you've just picked up. Pay attention to the way they sit on the needle. If you notice that a stitch is twisted, knit it through the front loop.

Three Ways to Knit Cables Without a Cable Needle

If none of these ways feels comfortable to you, consider using a safety pin instead of a cable needle. It's an easy remedy to the "dropped, lost, left at home cable needle" issue. A safety pin is easy to attach to your project, so you will always have it at hand when it's time to cross another cable

Three ways to knit cables without a cable needle - step by step | 10 rows a day
How to knit cables without a cable needle | 10 rows a day
Cables without a cable needle - three ways | 10 rows a day
Cabling without a cable needle | 10 rows a day

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