A Beginners Guide to Knitting Cables

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I'm curious when you hear the word

cables do you run for the hills or do

you get excited well after you've

watched today's tutorial I hope that if

you're fearful of cables you will now be

excited about them I want to answer some

of the most commonly asked questions

about knitting cables show you some very

basic examples and how you can get

started today to knit your very first



the first thing I want to do is show you

how to do a very basic cable twist this

is the fundamental of knitted cables and

I want you to see it first so you know

just how simple this concept is after we

have a look at the very basic principle

and fundamental of knitting cables I

will spend some time answering some

questions that come up we're also going

to have a look at a few different types

of cabled stitches now I personally use

at this book called 400 knitting

stitches by Potter craft it's a complete

dictionary of essential stitch patterns

and I really recommend that you pick up

a copy of this book it's really great to

practice some knit stitches in

particular the cabled stitches the

instructions are really detailed it

tells you exactly what you need to do

and it also gives you diagrams so you

can practice the written pattern as well

as the charted pattern before we step

into the studio I want to let you know

that you can find all of the information

that we're gonna talk about in this

tutorial today over on my website it's

one of those great resources that you

can bookmark save for later

and refer to it anytime you're having

trouble so you can find that linked in

the description below as well as right

here on your screen I also just want to

say a really quick thank you to my

sponsor red heart for allowing me to

teach you this technique today I'll be

using red heart baby hugs in the medium

weight it's a really great versatile

acrylic yarn that I used not only for

baby projects but for projects for

myself because it's really soft very

easy to use and it's great for knitting

cables because it has great stitch

definition and it's easy to work with

alright first up let's see how to do a

very basic cable twist I'm working on a

very simple six stitch cable if you're

working off of that book that I

recommended before 400 knitting stitches

you can find this pattern on page 49 is

a great one to start with so I'm ready

to work my cable row I've already worked

my first few stitches which are really

just my edge stitches and I'm set up to

begin cabling the first thing I need to

have is my cable needle these come in

various shapes and sizes I find that

this one works really well for me

and I need to twist this group so it's a

six stitch cable so these six stitches

are what's making up my cable and I need

to twist them evenly so I'm going to

pull off the first three stitches and

place them on my cable needle


and then I want to hold them to the

front and then all I need to do is knit

those last three so I'm essentially just

working these stitches out of order

that's what creates the twist so this is

the easy part I've worked the last three

first and now I need to work those first

three what I like to do and why I like

these this particular cable needle is

because I'm going to slide the stitches

down to the end and I'm just going to

use the cable needle as a needle to knit

with so I'm just letting my other needle

just kind of chill in the background

there and then I'll knit them off the

cable needle

and that's all there is to it I've

completed the cable twist for this first

section of the pattern

the one thing I want to bring to your

attention is that when you're twisting

these stitches like this they're gonna

feel a lot tighter on your needle that's

completely normal

and once you work this row you'll kind

of get through it and when you start on

the next row that's when you'll really

be able to settle things in and your

stitches will be comfortable once again

once you complete your cable row your

pattern is likely gonna have you follow

up with a bunch of rows where you're not

twisting anything if we look at the work

here just this one row right here was a

twist this row was a twist and this row

was a twist where I can really see that

change in shape and the other rows are

really just maintaining my stitch

pattern so the cables are worked with

knit stitches the background is purl so

when I'm flipping my work over

I'm just knitting the knits and purling

the pearls and that's pretty much the

pattern the consistency for a lot of

cables so we've already seen the

physical act of doing a cable twist and

that fundamental is all you need to know

in order to do any type of cabled stitch

I really want to stress the importance

that what makes a cable is the act of

twisting your stitches now you can do

this in any number or any repeat or any

kind of fashion and that's really what

develops a specific knitted cable but

the principle is the same

knitting cables only requires that you

twist your stitches now what does that

mean exactly that means when you take

certain set of stitches that might be

worked in a specific order and you

change that order so you might be taking

three stitches and holding them aside

like we saw on that cable needle and

then working the other ones out of order

when you work your stitches out of order

that creates the twist

now the stitch pattern has to do with

where those twists are placed

how many twists are going to be there

how many stitches are involved what


repeaters along the way really the sky

is the limit but I really just want to

hit home with my main point right here

which is that if you understand and you

know how to twist your stitches then you

can virtually create any knitted cable

you want you could even go as high as

sang I can design my own cables how cool

would that be I will be the first to

admit that I lose track of repeats very

often I like to think that I can keep

track of it in my head but in all

reality a lot of times I get distracted

and I know you do too my big tip for you

here is to work through some swatches

first don't try to dive face-first into

a pattern because well learn from my

mistakes I tried to just work a cabled

knitted pattern right off the bat

without having any practice on cables

whatsoever because I thought well I can

read a knitting pattern and I've been

knitting for a while I've got this but I

didn't I failed miserably and that's

just because I didn't have those basics

I didn't really understand the best way

to keep track of my repeats and I

abandoned ship I wasted a lot of time on

that project and I lost a lot of

confidence throughout that process too

and I don't want that to happen to you

so take my advice work through some

swatches first even if you feel like you

don't need to just do it after you've

worked through several different

swatches and you feel comfortable and

confident then I recommend that you

proceed with a pattern a previously

written pattern something that you're

not going to try to design on your own

or even taking those stitch patterns

that are within those books that you are

following for the swatches at first

don't try to create your own pattern I

know as a designer that's a hard thing

to do

but I recommend that you follow with a

written pattern one that's been pattern

tested so that you can continue to build

upon that confidence that you need after

you've completed your first project

following a pattern you've worked

several swatches and you're really going

to have a good understanding of how

cables come together and then you can

tackle designing something of your own

alright now let's talk about

there are a few different ways that

you'll see your cable abbreviated or

spelled out in your pattern and I want

to bring those different methods to your

awareness now so you have a better

chance of following that pattern as you

go along so the most common way that

you'll see a cable indicated in your

pattern is going to be something like

this you'll see see some kind of number

and then F or B now let's break this

down the C stands for cable very simple

there's really nothing that we have to

do here we can just completely ignore

this this letter the number is going to

be the number of stitches within that

cable so you might see four if it's a

four stitch cable six if it's a six

stitch cable eight ten twelve really the

sky is the limit it can be any number

but just know that that is the number of

stitches that is within your cable now F

and B F stands for front and B stands

for back and what those two things tell

you is where you're going to pull your

stitches when you're working them onto

your cable needle so let's say for

example you're working a six stitch

cable and your instructions say C 6 f

what that means is when you pull the

first three stitches off of your your

needle and then place them on to your

cable needle what you'll do is you'll

pull that cable needle to the front of

your work on the flip side if you have C

six B then you're going to pull the

stitches off of your knitting needle

onto your cable needle and then you're

gonna pull that to the back of the work

now there's something really interesting

you should know about front and back so

when your pattern tells you that you're

going to cable to the front that is

going to be a left-leaning cable when

your pattern tells you to pull to the

back just know that that is a

right-leaning cable and it's cool

because when you know these things

you can play with your own designs if

you prefer but it's also a nice visual

cue for you if you know that your cable

is supposed to lean to the left then

you'll you'll always know that you just

need to pull your cable needle to the

front and you don't really have to refer

to your instructions all the time

so this formula right here is the most

common way that you'll see a cable

spelled out in your pattern but

sometimes you'll come across a pattern

that will spell it out even more for you

so you might actually see it's a cable 6

front and in that case you literally

just have to do that now sometimes it'll

take it a step further and it'll say k 3

comma k 3 in parentheses and that's just

so you know that all of the stitches

within that cable are going to be

knitted there are some patterns where

you might be working with a different

stitch so for example instead of having

an all stockinette cable you might have

part of it be stockinette and part of it

might be seed stitch or garter stitch or

something like that but most commonly

this is what you're going to see the

other thing I like that that book does

is it takes this sentence one step

further so you'll see this instruction

cable six front it'll give you the knit

three knit three if that's the pattern

that you're working on but then it'll

also open up another parenthesis and

it'll spell it out even more so it will

say pull three stitches from your left

needle place it on your cable needle

pull that to the front of the work knit

three and then knit the three from your

cable needle for me as a beginner that

sentence was what I focused on first

because it told me step by step what I

needed to do then once I got comfortable

with that then I was able to kind of

follow along with this method cable six

front okay I get the idea I can do that

and then I kind of went to this format

here where I was comfortable seeing see

number front or back I knew what to do

at that point so that book once again is

400 knitting stitches it has well 400

knitting stitches but it does have

several cable stitches in it as well and

I do think it's a great tool for

learning some cables

sometimes you're not always going to

have just the written word you may only

have a diagram available to work off of

so what I've done here is I have drawn a

six stitch cable in in my editing

software here just so you could see an

idea of what a cable diagram looks like

a couple things I want to clarify for

you so you can actually understand what

you're seeing here on your screen is the

the key right so the lines the vertical

line that is going to be to knit on the

right side of the work and when you see

a horizontal line that is going to be a

purl on the right side of the work so

that's what we're seeing here we see a

bunch of knits and we see a bunch of

pearls so these are all knits for the

most part except this row right here

this one stands out to us because this

is your cable twist and believe it or

not this is one single row basically

makes your entire pattern your entire

stitch pattern so you only have to twist

just once out of all of these rows

another thing I want to point out is

that in the cross here we can see that

three of the lines are on top of the

other three and then it's leaning to the

left so again this is that example where

we're cabling six front and that's gonna

give us that left-leaning a good diagram

is gonna do this for you so that you

don't even have to look at written

instructions that you can just look at

the diagram and know exactly what to do

a lot of times what I'll do if I'm

following along with a diagram is I

ignore most of what you see here and

that's not to say that I just kind of do

my own thing but I think a lot of the

information within this diagram is

something that you can learn relatively

quickly so for me the first thing that I

focus in on is how many rows are in my

reapeat so if we count these out one

two three and a lot of times this is

gonna be given to you so you don't even

have to do this but I can see that I

have an eighth row repeat and on row

number seven I'm gonna do my twist

that's important thing number one the

next thing I need to consider is if I'm

working this as a row or if I'm working

it in the round because that's going to

determine how you read your diagram if

you're working in rows you're gonna

follow a similar pattern where you're

going down the row let's change the

color here you're gonna start at one

point you're gonna work in one way then

you're gonna go up work back and then

follow that trend well let's say that

you're working in the round in that case

you might start at the same point down

here but you're always going to be going

in the same direction and that's

important because when we're knitting in

the round we're always looking at the

right side of the world right we're not

flipping it back and forth and so that's

going to change what stitches that we

work so for example my first three

stitches are going to be pearls right

here so I'm going to purl three and then

I'm going to knit six well then if I'm

working in a flat row I'm gonna flip my

work and then all of mine it's become

pearls and my pearls become knits and

I'm probably going into a little bit

more detail than you probably need but

making this association is is when

you're gonna have that aha moment that

when you flip your work and it's become

pearls pearls become knits now in the

case of working in the round and the

point that I'm really trying to make

here is that when you start on your next

repeat you're going to purl the pearls

knit the knits that is the most

important piece of information I can

give you here in most cases you're going

to knit

it's and you're going to pearl the

pearls when you realize this most of the

information on this diagram is going to

be completely irrelevant the main thing

that you'll want to focus in on is at

the cable twist where it occurs in which

direction it leans now the big question

here is how on earth do I knit cables in

the round

whether it be on double pointed needles

or on circular needles the physical act

let's go back to the fundamentals here

is going to be the same we're going to

use a cable needle and we're going to

twist those stitches and that's how

we're going to create the cable now

let's look at a quick example of a hat

that I'm working up now with some cables

so I can show you just how simple it is

to knit cables in the round the first

twist we're going to gather two stitches

on our cable needle I'm pulling it to

the front

and then I'm going to knit the next two

so this is an eight stitch repeat I've

essentially split it in half well the

pattern split it in half and I'm cabling

four on each side so I'm basically just

working two cable twists the same way as

before I've collected them on my cable

needle and I'm working them out of order

now this pattern also requires that I

cable for to the back so I'm going to

grab the next two

pull my cable needle to the back so I

can work the next two

my goal here really isn't to teach you

this stitch pattern my goal is to show

you that we're not doing anything


while we're cabling in the round so I'm

working on circular needles here because

that's what I prefer to work off of but

the concept is the same if you're

working on double pointed needles as

well all right we have covered a lot of

ground so far I want to commend you for

making it through to where we are in the

tutorial now but I don't want you to

abandon ship just yet I know you're

excited to dive in and try your first

cables but before we do we need to talk

about the all-important troubleshooting

my biggest problem with knitting when I

first started was that I didn't know how

to fix my mistakes and that actually

steered me away from knitting for like

two years I was terrified because I knew

I was going to be investing a lot of

time into something that I didn't know

how to fix if I made a mistake and the

perfectionist in me didn't allow me to

just leave it be

I don't want that to happen to you so

you need to understand how to fix your

mistakes so that you can continue in the

forward direction rather than kind of

taking one step forward to three steps


so first up on the troubleshooting

agenda I want to talk about holes in

your work this is a very common problem

you're probably going to experience it

and I want you to know right off the bat

that it's nothing you're doing wrong if

I pull my work down and stretch my

stitches out a little bit you can see a

couple of holes that have formed as a

result of twisting those stitches and I

want to let you know that is completely


it's actually more pronounced when it's

on your needle then when it's off your

needle so if I flip the work over and

I'm looking at the front now I know that

there is a hole that exists right under

this cable so big that I can fit my

finger through it you can't see that

right now if you find that you can see

some holes anywhere within your work if

you kind of block it out a little bit

like this one thing you can do to try to

eliminate that

is make sure that you have a little bit

of extra tension or you're holding your

working yarn a little bit tighter than

you normally would when you're working

those twists another potential issue you

might run into is with loose stitches

this is another one of those scenarios

where tension is going to be your best

friend or your worst nightmare so you

really need to work really hard to get

your tension

consistent and learn it that as you're

cabling you have to tighten it up just a

little bit in order to kind of avoid

having those loose stitches now what do

you do if you have to heaven forbid tink

or rip out your cable stitches I do want

to stress that if you can avoid this do

because it's not always easy but it is

very possible let's have a look at how

we can reverse knit or tink a very

simple cable the most important thing

you need to remember is the order in

which you worked the stitches because

remember we twisted them so this first

three that I can see on my needle here

is going to be behind the next three so

I want to look at my first stitch and

find the right loop to tink

catch my needle in that loop slide it

off my needle and pull my working yarn

so I've just undid one of those stitches

now I'm looking at my next stitch here I

want to capture

that loop

pull it through and I know I have one

more to work I find that it's easier if

I keep some tension on the working yarn

I can really see that loop that I'm

trying to get my needle into

slide it off the needle

and then place these three on my cable

needle because again I know that there's

a twist here so these are out of order

I still have three more stitches to tink

this time they're in the correct order


you can always do a little self check

here to look at your work and make sure

that it's not twisted so you can get an

idea of where you are within the pattern

and then I'm simply going to replace

these stitches on my needle from my

cable needle

I also really hate giving this advice

here but it really is true practice

doesn't always make perfect but practice

does make better I hate that advice

because I feel like we hear it so much I

kind of gloss over and when we hear it

but in the case of knitting and crochet

practice really does work if you would

like a full detailed list something that

you can read in bookmark and save for

later go ahead and check out my website

you can find all of the information we

covered here in today's tutorial right

there on my website once again you can

find that link in the video description

below as well as right here on your

screen you can also find the information

about red heart baby hugs right there on

that page this is one of those yarns

that is kind of a go-to for me I don't

necessarily always use it for baby

projects although it's great for that

it's incredibly soft

I like making the projects for myself

with baby hooks that comes within a

medium weight as well as a lightweight

version and you can find the information

and where to order directly from red

heart on that page now my question for

you today is as it was at the beginning

of this tutorial answer in the comments

below does the idea of cables completely

scare you to death or does it make you

excited and has this video helped you

make that transformation maybe from

fearful to excited let me know in the

comments below be sure to subscribe to

the be hooked YouTube channel if you

haven't done so already and I look

forward to serving you in the next