Cables Without a Cable Needle

Cablework can be a little time intensive, interrupting your rhythm of knitting to swap out a cable needle intermittedly. But, the technique of cabling without a cable needle is a sure way to speed up your stitch work, maintain your knitting speed a little better, and help you to fall in love with cablework all over again.

Follow Along With Your Own Test Swatch

2/2 RC (Right Cross): Slip 2 sts onto cable needle and hold to back; k2, k2 from cable needle.
2/2 LC (Left Cross): Slip 2 sts onto cable needle and hold to front; k2, k2 from cable needle.

CO 19 sts.
Row 1 (RS): K1, p3, k4, p3, k3, p3, k1.
Row 2 (WS): K4, p4, k3, p4, k4.
Row 3: K1, p3, k4, p3, k3, p3, k1.
Row 4: K4, p4, k3, p4, k4.
Row 5 (RS): K1, p3, 2/2 RC, p3, 2/2 LC, p3, k1.
Rep Rows 2 – 5 for pattern.

Choosing Directions First

This tutorial is going to walk you through the steps of both Right Cross (RC) and Left Cross (LC) cables, using four stitches. In cable symbol terminology, it works out to 2/2 RC and 2/2 LC, wherein 2 stitches are going to cross 2 other stitches. I recommend using this technique for any cable less than a total stitch count of ten.

An RC Cable means the first 2 stitches need to be pushed to the back and the last 2 sts are crossing over the front of them to the right. So, first things first, you’re going to insert your knitting needle into the last 2 sts in the front.

An LC Cable means the first 2 stitches are going to be crossing over the front of the last 2 sts to the left. Here, you’re going to insert your knitting needle into the last 2 sts behind the work.

 

Pinch and Pull

For RC: With the thumb and forefinger, pinch all 4 stitches together as you slowly pull the left-hand knitting needle out of the stitches. Don’t gasp! It will be ok. Pinch hard and you’ll see 2 “free” stitches hanging out at the back of the right-hand knitting needle.

 

For LC: With the thumb and forefinger, pinch all 4 stitches together as you slowly pull the left-hand knitting needle out of the stitches. Remember, breathe! Pinch hard and you’ll see 2 “free” stitches hanging out at the front of the right-hand knitting needle.

 

Begin to Cross

For RC: Going behind the 2 stitches on the right-hand needle, insert the left-hand knitting needle back into the 2 “free” stitches.

 

For LC: Going in front of the 2 stitches on the right-hand needle, insert the left-hand knitting needle back into the 2 “free” stitches.

Finish the Cross

For both RC and LC: Slip the 2 stitches from the right-hand needle back onto the left-hand needle, being careful that they sit correctly and are not twisted.

What we’ve done is switch the placement of the stitches, crossing them in their right/left directions before working them.

 

Knit As Normal

For both RC and LC: Now, knit those 4 stitches as normal.

And just like that, you’ve worked cables without a cable needle.

With a little practice, you’ll find yourself whipping out these wonderfully textural stitches in no time, making patterns like Aine or Acacia even more fun and interesting than before.

By Tabetha Hedrick

Tabetha Hedrick, Design Director for SweetGeorgia Yarns, lives by the belief that joy comes when fully participating in the present moment. And that joy is ever so easy to find when immersed in the world of fibre! When not knitting, writing, editing, or researching, she fills the time raising two girls, two dogs, and one husband in Tennessee.

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