Cable needle, we don’t need no stinking cable needle!

I’ll preface this with the commentary that my very first knitting project (beyond acres of garter stitch and a little stuffed penguin) was a cabled sweater. The friend who taught me how to knit operated on the principle that if you really want to do something, you’ll learn how on the way. So I picked out a cabled hooded cardigan and she helped me buy needles and yarn and a cable needle never once giving a hint that this was supposed to be Difficult. That sweater never got finished.. by the time I’d upsized it enough to fit me, the drop shoulder design was absurd and I detested it and ripped it all out. I still have the yarn. I did, however, learn not to fear anything in knitting in the process of that sweater. Cables? Sure! Lace? No problem. It’s all one stitch at a time, if you follow the directions logically it all works. So I’ve been doing cables since day one, and somewhere along the way I read a passing comment about cabling without a cable needle. There was no description of the technique, just an off handed comment. So I thought about it a moment and went with how I thought they meant. Exactly as it says, no needle. Turns out that they mean some odd twisting of the stitches and putting them all back on the left hand needle in the new order before you knit it. I think. I still don’t have that method down pat. I do, however, like to live on the edge apparently and I just don’t use anything but fingers. This works better with smaller twists, 1 or two stitches being moved. You can hold three or more, but it gets messy. Oh yes, and pardon the pretty awful photos, me and the ‘I don’t do close ups’ camera on delay and a 100 cd spindle case did our best.

Here we are, arriving at a spot where we need to cable. Eek! It’s a two over two cable, nothing too scary.

The two stitches at the start of the needle need to come to the front and look! There they are, dangling in the breeze. (They’re the fuzzy green things in the middle. Trust me.)

Alright, squint with me and pretend that the horrible focus is normal. I hold onto the stitches with the tips of my fingers. Really, with a thumb nail and the pad of my finger, the fingernail holds them better, but wool is sticky enough that they don’t really want to travel. This next photo is of a different stitch, one stitch held in back rather than two in front, but is (miracle!) slightly clearer.

It does take a bit of dexterity to knit while holding stitches, but a smidge of practice and it’s not so bad. And it’s only for a stitch or two.

Stick those (fuzzy again.. dammit!) held stitches back on the left hand needle and away you go. Not a cable needle in sight, and after the first few, it barely throws a pause in the stride of my knitting. Perhaps not the best plan for very slippery yarn, but then you just need to be more careful to hold onto them tightly. I tend to do most of my cable work in wool or acrylic, both hold their stitches pretty well. Only three more pattern rows to the end of the sleeve cable! Whoo! The end is in sight, and I need to fiddle for some changes I made earlier. Drat.

2 thoughts on “Cable needle, we don’t need no stinking cable needle!

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