Sometimes a pattern involves a lot of cable stitches. Typically Aran sweaters are riddled with them. Slipping stitches, moving the cable needle back and forth requires time. And if there are a lot of cables, this will amount to quite a lot of time. So, what if there was a way to knit cables without cable needles?
Here’s the good news: There are actually two! And in this tutorial, I am going to show you step by step how to knit the more popular version.
But if you find it a bit too difficult yet, then you’ll find my detailed regular cable stitch tutorial here.
Anyway, let’s dive right into it, eh?
Step by step instructions:
By knitting without a cable needle, I feel you get neater cables because you are not stretching the stitches as much. Basically it boils down to dropping the stitches you normally would have to hold in the back/front and then picking them up again. Sounds scary? Like it would unravel? Absolutely not! With a little bit of practice, you will soon wonder why you ever used a cable needle.
1. Right cable cross
Step 1: Insert the right needle into the third and fourth stitch on your left needle from the front.
Step 2: Use your right index finger to press the first two stitches against the right needle.
Step 3: Pull the left needle out of those first four stitches. Two stitches should be secured on your right needle, while two stitches will be secured by your thumb pressing them against the right needle so they don’t unravel or drop out of range.
Step 4: Pick up the two dropped stitches with your left needle.
Step 5: Slip the two slipped stitches on your right needle back to the left needle and knit 4 stitches.
I KNOW this sounds scary. As a knitter, we are taught to avoid all situations where stitches may drop. But contrary to what you might think, stitches only unravel if you put stress on the fabric/yarn. So, avoid these, keep calm and things will work out just fine. Try to bunch the next stitches on the left needle really close to the tip. If they are too loose, you will have to move your needle around too much when dropping the stitches and picking them up again.
2. Left Cable Cross
The left cross cable is knit in the very same way. The only difference is that insert the needle into the third and fourth stitch from the back. It’s actually the easier version. As a lot of steps are the same, here’s an abbreviated version
Step 1: Insert the need into the third and fourth stitch from the back
Step 2: Secure the first two stitches with your thumb and pull out the right needle.
Step 3: Pick up the dropped stitches with our left needle again.
Step 4: And slip the two stitches on your right needle back to the left needle as well. Then knit four.
In that manner, you can also knit 1×1 or 3×3 cables without a needle. The smaller the cable, the easier it is, the bigger, the harder it gets.
An alternative method: Knitting into back stitches
For 1×1, 2×1 or 3×1 cables there is also a way to knit without a cable needle and without dropping the stitches. Basically it involves knitting a stitch from the back of your work. So, you insert the needle in between two stitches, then you bring the needle to the front, and then you knit a Norwegian purl or knit stitch.
I don’t like this method at all as it requires you to knit very closely and it results in sloppy cables (in my opinion, lol).