The dictionary describes a cable as a “twisted rope”.  That exactly describes the intention of cable stitches in knitting design.  Knitting cables gives a garment texture and an embossed or a three-dimensional look.  Cables give the appearance of cords or ropes twisted around each other or criss-crossing each other in lattice or grid formations. Cables give knitted work a very striking appearance.

Cable knitting is really very simple.   It consists of twisting a group or groups of stitches in a certain way.  The twists are usually only performed on the right side rows of the knitting.  The intervals between the actual twists vary giving different effects.

There are only a few basic twists, and once you have mastered these, your creativity with cable knitting will only be limited by your own imagination.

The cable (or rope effect) itself is usually knitted in stocking stitch which gives it the “raised” look.  The surrounding stitches are most often in “reverse stocking stitch” or any other background stitch you decide to choose (like moss stitch or double moss stitch), to make the cable stand out more clearly.  Cables that are just embedded in stocking stitch give a different texture to your knitting – it gives a more rippled effect instead of a corded or rope effect, but it can be just as effective.   Examples of cable knitting stitches will be demonstrated and discussed under the various options in the following pages.


You will need:
  • Knitting needles – the size to suit your pattern and yarn
  • Cable needles of the same size diameter (a cable needle is a short, double pointed knitting needle which enables you to easily slip stitches back and forth from one needle to another in order to facilitate the twists).

Tips for Choosing yarn for eye-catching cable knitting:
Use plain colors – the cable is more visible and stands out better if the outline is not broken by flecked or variegated yarn. Light colored yarn is the most effective for cable knitting. A more striking 3dimensional look is achieved. You “see” the shadows in the design and it emphasizes the corded look more clearly.
Use a thicker wool – double knitting or chunky. The exception would be for baby garments.
Avoid “fluffy” yarns like angora (though simple, wide cables – six stitches or more - can be very effective using angora wool). The cable is often “lost” under the fluff.
Avoid yarn with bobbles or yarns with uneven thickness. These reduce the impact of the cable and make them more difficult to knit.


Cable knitting is most effective for items such as chunky winter garments, wall hangings, bags, lampshades.  If cable stitches are knitted with thinner yarn, they can be incorporated into any garment including children’s and babies clothing items.  You can transform the plainest knitted garment into a fashion show piece by simply inserting a cable stitch panel as a focus point. Take a look through the various cable stitches shown in the following pages for fresh ideas.

Simple Cable Knitting Stitches:

Below are some simple examples of the use of cable twists to produce different effects in your knitting.


Cable Chain in Rib

One of the most simple use of cable stitches is demonstrated in this easy to do cable chain in rib.
The resulting fabric has some stretch, it is attractive and suitable for the body of garments.

Abbreviations:
Cr2R:  knit the 2nd st on the LH needle, then the f1st, allow both stitches to drop
Cr2L:  knit the 2nd st on the LH needle through the back of the loop, then the 1st through the back of the loop, allow both sts to drop.
Simple Chain Links Cable Stitch    Instructions: 
    Cast on a multiple of 8 +4 sts
    Row 1:  *P4, Cr2L, Cr2R,* p last 4 sts
    Row 2:  *k4, p4,* k4
    Rows 3 and 5:  *p4, k1, p2, k1,* p4
    Rows 4 and 6:  *k4, p1, k2, p1,* k4
    These six rows form the stitch sequence for the cable chain in rib.






Cables often make use of honeycomb effects. 

Honeycomb Cable Stitches:
  • Are based in stocking stitch or rib stitches
  • create a thick warm fabric
  • Use more yarn than plain knitting stitches.

Different size honeycomb cable stitches are shown below.

Small Honeycomb Cable Stitch:
The small honeycomb cable stitch is neat and attractive, it lies flat and can be used for almost any knitted fabric.

Notes:
  • It does pull in slightly sideways.
  • There is a right and a wrong side.
  • Creates a thick warm fabric particularly suited for baby blankets.

Abbreviations:
Cr2R: knit the 2nd st on the LH needle, then the f1st, allow both stitches to drop
Cr2L: knit the 2nd st on the LH needle through the back of the loop, then the 1st through the back of the loop, allow both sts to drop.

Small Honeycomb Cable Stitch Instructions:
Cast on a multiple of 4 sts
Row 1:  *Cr2R, Cr2L*
Row 2 and all alternate rows:  p
Row 3:  *cr2L, Cr2R*
 


Larger Honeycomb Cable Stitch
This larger honeycomb cable stitch creates a slightly more square look to the honeycomb by the use of a slip stitch
It is aslo neat and attractive and ideal for extra warm fabrics.

Abbreviations:
Cr2R: knit the 2nd st on the LH needle, then the f1st, allow both stitches to drop
Cr2L: knit the 2nd st on the LH needle through the back of the loop, then the 1st through the back of the loop, allow both sts to drop

Larger Honeycomb Stitch    Instructions:I
    Cast on a multiple of 4 sts
Row 1:   *Cr2R, Cr2L*
Row 2:   *p1, yb, sl2, yf, p1*
Rows 3 and 7:  k
Rows 4 and 8:  p
Row 5:  *Cr2L, Cr2R*
Row 6:  sl1, yf, *p2, yb, sl2, yf* last sequence will end with sl1
 
THese 6 rows form the stitch sequence for the larger honeycomb cable stitch.


 




Zigzag Cable Rib


Zigzag Cable Stitch in Rib  









These rows form the stitch pattern for ....