How To: Cabling

Cabling is one of the more advanced knitting techniques and can be used to make beautiful and intricate designs, but it can also be daunting. It involves transferring a portion of your knitting onto a third specialized needle and working those stitches “out of order,” or twisted. However, with the right guide and some patience and dedication, anyone can master cabling.

Begin by slipping two stitches onto the cabling needle, as shown below, holding it behind your two regular needles.

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Work the next two stitches from the left needle, with the cabling needle held behind. Then slip the stitches from the cabling needle back onto the lefthand needle and work them. This will twist the stitches from the lefthand needle in front of the stitches from the cabling needle.

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Congratulations! You’ve knitted your first cable!

Most patterns will have several rows between cables to avoid getting the piece too twisted, and allows for more stretchiness in the final piece.

There are two variations of cabling. The first, which you just completed, is when you hold the cable needle behind the working needles. In knitting patterns this is often called a right cable because the stitches that cross in front come from the right; it can also be called a back cable. These are abbreviated either C2R or C2B, if you’re cabling two stitches like here. The second variation involves the exact same steps except you hold the cable needle in front of the working needles; this is called either a left cable or a front cable, abbreviated either C2L or C2F.

Begin a front cable by slipping two stitches onto the cabling needle and hold it in front of the working needles. As before, work the two stitches from the left needle and then the two from the cabling needle.

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And congratulations a second time! You’ve successfully done both kinds of cabling! You now have all the tools and knowledge you need to combine these into all kinds of cabled patterns. You can change it up by increasing the number of stitches you’re working with— instead of only two stitches, you can cable 3, 4, 5, etc., stitches at a time, though the twist will get thicker and more difficult to work with the more stitches you add.

If you’re looking for a pattern to practice cabling with, check out our Max Patch hat and mitten set or our Lookout Mountain set. These two patterns are relatively simple cable patterns, and provide ample opportunity to practice your cabling technique! We also carry Coco Knits Curved Cable Needles and our Little Essential Tool Case, for all your cabling needs.