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What are the Best Tips for Following a Cable Knit Pattern?

By Katriena Knights
Updated Feb 26, 2024
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Knitting a cable knit pattern can be intimidating, especially to a beginner, but with patience, attention to detail and some tips for following a typical cable knit pattern, even a nervous knitter can tackle simple cables successfully. The best tips for following a cable knit pattern are to understand the process, start simple and pay close attention while knitting. Cable knitting, one of a variety of types of knitting that add texture and interest to a finished garment, is common in Irish or other Celtic patterns, especially Aran sweaters, which are famous for their intricate combinations of knots and cables. These knitting tips will help even the beginning knitter understand and easily execute cables.

Tip 1: Understand the process

Cable knitting basically consists of knitting stitches out of order so that one set is twisted over the top of the other, creating an overlap that looks like a large, twisted rope. A cable knit pattern can include cables that twist three or four stitches over each other or smaller cables that twist only single stitches. In order to achieve this effect, a special cabling needle is used to hold stitches either behind or in front of the work while the next stitches are knitted, then the stitches are knitted off the cabling needle to create the twist. After a knitter understands how cable knitting works, it becomes much easier.

Tip 2: Start simple

For those trying a cable knit pattern for the first time, a simpler pattern is a good place to start. A scarf with a single row of cables down the center or a hat that has a cabled brim are examples of items that a beginner might choose. A single, simple cable knit pattern will provide attractive results with minimal effort and will introduce the beginner to the basic procedure for cabling. Although knitting books teaching knitting for beginners usually do not include cables, because they are considered an advanced knitting technique, the procedure really is not all that complicated.

Tip 3: Pay attention

A cable knit pattern can look extremely complicated, because each individual step often will be written out. Other patterns use a diagram, which also can be intimidating and difficult to read. After the first few rows are knitted, though, a pattern is established, and the knitter often can continue without consulting the pattern for each individual stitch. It is important, though, not to lose track of the pattern, because missing or misplacing a stitch can create problems later in the pattern. One of the best ways to keep track of the pattern is to use a pencil to mark the graph of the cable knit pattern or to use a row counter to keep track of individual repetitions of the overall pattern.

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