Well, we’re back – tanner, fatter (I’m sorry but Mediterranean food is NOT slimming) and more relaxed. As ever, a third week would have been perfect but I realise you can’t be greedy about these things. I’ve had quite a lot of time (never enough!) to think about new projects, new yarns and exciting things to learn. And of course, to complete a few of them whilst away.
So, to focus on the new projects: I want to use more cables in my knitting. I love the texture they create with such little effort and since I do a lot of my work in public, I’m always rather flattered when people stare at the third needle, or even no third needle (more on that later) and ask what it is that I’m making. I know, I know, it’s an easy trick but satisfying nevertheless.
So a few quick thoughts about cables. Firstly, you must stop thinking about fusty fishermen jumpers, unless of course they’re being worn by a young French model aka Bergere de France.
And now that you’re focussed, I can say that cables can be used ANYWHERE in a garment – as replacement ribbing, on the arm, round the neckline, in thin/wide stripes across, diagonally or anywhere on a garment. They add interest and bring out the body of the yarn you are using. The only caveat when attempting to make up your own pattern is gauge. The combination of knit panels with purl panels and crossing stitches over stitches causes cable patterns to pull in width-wise. A jumper worked in a cable pattern will be significantly narrower than one worked in the same number of stitches in stockinette stitch. You’ll need more yarn and more stitches for a cable sweater than for one of the same dimensions in a knit/purl pattern.
If you decide to add a cable (or several) to a plain sweater, be sure to increase enough stitches after you knit your border to maintain the overall width. Although there are no hard and fast rules, you’ll be safe if you add 1 to 2 for every 4 stitches in your cable. If you have a ribbed border, you can add the stitches evenly on the last ribbed row.
If you’re making a project in a repeating cable pattern, be sure to work a large enough swatch to be able to measure gauge accurately. I know it’s a pain but if you want the jumper to fit, there is no alternative. The swatch should include at least two repeats of the cable pattern horizontally and vertically. If you’re working several different cables, you have to check your gauge over each one. End of lecture.
And now for the fun part – starting cable patterns.
Cables should begin and end on a row between turnings where the cable stitches are relaxed and the fabric is smooth. Because the cable stitches spread out a bit between turning rows, for the smoothest transition between the beginnings and endings of cables, plan to increase a stitch or two over the cable stitches when beginning a cable and decrease a stitch or two when binding off over a cable.
And it’s super easy to change the direction that the cable twists – hold the cable needle at the front of the work if you want the cable to twist to the left and hold the cable needle at the back if you want the cable to twist to the right.
You can make a rope cable over almost any even number of stitches, but this pattern creates a 6-stitch left-twisting cable, where the first and last 4 stitches make up the background and the 6 central stitches form your cable.
Cast on 14 sts.
Follow this stitch pattern:
Rows 1 and 3 (RS): P4, k6, p4.
Rows 2, 4, and 6: K4, p6, k4.
Row 5: P4, slip next 3 sts to cable needle and hold in front, k3 from left hand needle, k3 from cable needle, p4.
Cast on 18 sts.
Follow this stitch pattern:
Rows 1 and 3 (RS): P3, k12, p3.
Rows 2, 4, and 6: K3, p12, k3.
Row 5: P3, sl next 3 sts to cable needle and hold in back, k3, k3 from cn, sl next 3 sts to cn and hold in front, k3, k3 from cn, p3.
Repeat Rows 1–6.
A double cable is really nothing more than a right cable next to a left cable. You can turn the cable upside down by working a left cable first and then a right one.
Two Stitch Cable (Ideal for Ribbing)
Ignore the first stitch on the left-hand needle for a moment and put the right-hand needle into the back of the second stitch on the needle. Knit this stitch through the back loop, but don’t drop it off the left-hand needle.
Bring the needle back around to the front and knit the first stitch normally through the front loop.
Drop both stitches from the left-hand needle.
Repeat Steps 1–3 each time you need to work a twist/rib.
Cast on 15 sts.
Follow this stitch pattern: Rows 1 and 5 (RS): P3, k9, p3.
Rows 2, 4, 6, and 8: K3, p9, k3.
Row 3: P3, sl next 3 sts to cable needle and hold in front, k3, k3 from cable needle, k3, p3.
Row 7: P3, k3, sl next 3 sts to cable needle and hold in back, k3, k3 from cable needle, p3.
Repeat Rows 1–8.
Cast on 12 sts.
Follow this stitch pattern: Rows 1, 3, 7, and 9 (RS): P3, k6, p3.
Rows 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12: K3, p6, k3.
Row 5: P3, sl next 3 sts to cable needle and hold in back, k3, k3 from cable needle, p3.
Row 11: P3, sl next 3 to cable needle and hold in front, k3, k3 from cable needle, p3.
Repeat Rows 1–12.
Cast on 14 sts.
Follow this stitch pattern: Rows 1 and 5 (RS): P3, k8, p3.
Rows 2, 4, 6, and 8: K3, p8, k3.
Row 3: P3, sl next 2 sts to cable needle and hold in back, k2, k2 from cn, sl next 2 sts to cn and hold in front, k2, k2 from cn, p3.
Row 7: P3, sl next 2 sts to cn and hold in front, k2, k2 from cn, sl next 2 sts to cn and hold in back, k2, k2 from cn, p3.
Repeat Rows 1–8.
Of course, I could go on as the variations are endless, however at this stage I got tired of knitting swatches and went to the beach! Hope you enjoy them. And here is a photo of a rather lovely wave cabled scarf to end with.
The pattern is here.
And don’t forget, there are only a few days left to the end of the Make-a-Monster Competition so keep those photos rolling in of your creations!