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Cabling Without a Needle, the Sequel

Oct 16, 2009

Kathleen knitting as fast as she can! I'm working on my Knit-a-Long, the Central Park Hoodie, and even though I'm behind my own schedule (!), I'm making fast progress now that I can devote more hours to this project.

The Central Park Hoodie is actually a really quick project, for several reasons: the gauge is a generous 4.25 stitches per inch, the pieces have minimal shaping, and the cable pattern makes me want to keep going ("just one more cable repeat. . ."). I've been working on a couple of other projects for Knitting Daily, though, and my CPH got neglected for a couple of weeks.

I do have the back and one-and-a-half fronts done now, and I'm going to do the two sleeves at once. I usually don't like to do that because I make a mess of the two strands of yarn—I fail at the walking and chewing gum test—but I want to get this sweater done so I can wear it!

I've been using Interweave's cabling without a needle directions (click here for the tutorial I posted on Knitting Daily), but I recently discovered another method, one where you knit the stitches on the needles as you twist them. Our original instructions have you twist the stitches on the needle first and then knit them. This second method is faster, I think, and I need all the speed I can get in order to keep up with my knit-a-long pals!

I made a video of the technique and here it is! I demonstrate a left-crossing cable first, and then a right-crossing cable.

A Free Pattern for You!

Here's a cable pattern for you to try this method with: the Peasant Blouse by Teva Durham. Teva appeared on Knitting Daily TV on season 2 and talked about her theories for designing unique and fashionable knitwear.

There are a couple of different cables in this design, placed off-center to add even more interest and flair. I love peasant blouses in general, but they're usually designed for summer wear; this version of the blouse is appropriate for fall and wintertime, too. I love the cables, of course, but I also admire the neckline, with its eyelets and ribbon tie.

Teva is such an innovative designer; I think you'll really like this project.

And if you need more cabling inspiration, check out our Knitting Daily Workshop Classic to Creative Knit Cables with Kathy Zimmerman. Kathy provides basic instruction, tips, tricks, and excellent patterns in this special tutorial.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Cheers,

Kathleen


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Comments

askari wrote
on Dec 8, 2012 11:13 PM

به نام خداوند بخشنده و مهربان

کاتلین عزیز سلام

من الهام عسکری از ایران هستم

متاسفانه بلد نیستم به زبان انگلیسی برایتان کامنت بزارم ولی هر روز به سایتتون میرم و مدلهاتونو می‌بینم.

ازتون ممنونم به خاطر مدلهای قشتگتون

دوستتون دارم و امیدوارم سال خوبی را شروع کنید در سایه خدای بزرگ و مهربان

Janelle62 wrote
on Dec 4, 2012 11:52 AM

Beautiful sweater Kathleen.  Love the color.

By the way, how do I view videos?  Each time I try to view one the screen whites out - but the audio is fine.  Do I have to subscribe to a forum or something?  Please let me know because I'd really like to see your no cable needle cabling technique.  Thanks!  :)

Jackie@37 wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 12:18 PM

Thank you, Kathleen, for this great time-saving video! My Christmas knitting will be achieved in a shorter period of time thanks to you!

Thanks also for all of the terrific help you give on a weekly basis in the e-letters!! :)

Bernita wrote
on Dec 8, 2010 1:07 PM

It's finally finished!  Check out socksaholic at Ravelry to see the FO.  I could (or would) have never done this afghan without this method of doing cables.  Just for fun, I counted the # of cable crossings in this afghan and it is over 8,000.  The FO picture on ravlrey shows half the width of the afghan and and you can see all the different types of cables used.

Bernita wrote
on Mar 4, 2010 4:06 PM

Thank you so much for sharing this Kathleen.  I have practiced this in all of the varied cables in an Aran Fisherman Afghan pattern I have had for many, many years, and now have the courage to start even though it is cables, cables, everywhere.  I have put it off for years because I didn't want to use a cable needle probably a thousand times :), but now I don't have to!!  I know what my oldest son is finally getting for Christmas in 2010!

kate4 wrote
on Jan 4, 2010 10:46 AM

Holy Cow!  Thanks, Kathleen!!!  I've been knitting for 40 years or so and I learn something new almost every time I sign on to this site!  I'm going knit up a little baby cabled hat today and will certainly try this.....

KathleenRV wrote
on Jan 3, 2010 4:53 PM

Oh WOW!! that is sooo simple I'm very frustrated with myself since I've pruchased so many of those needles that I'm embarassed to say how many.

I will never be "caught" without a cable needle again!! Thankx so much

Kathleen

KarenN@7 wrote
on Jan 1, 2010 8:44 AM

Thanks so much for your recent technique videos, especially this one.  I had tried cabling without a needle following other instructions on the web, but just didn't "get" it.  This one is so clear and so easy, I don't think I'll ever use a cable needle again!  I just had to start a cable-rich scarf this week so I could practice.

on Dec 30, 2009 8:32 PM

I knit the continental method.  How does this apply instead of the american method of knitting?

on Dec 30, 2009 5:11 PM

Thank you!  I have not done a large cabling project yet, in part because I really don't like working with slippy cable needles that have to be stowed somewhere when not in use.  I am brave about removing stitches so this really appeals to me.  I can't wait to plan a sweater project with cables!  I can't get enough of this kind of inspiration and enlightenment to broaden my knitting knowledge!  Keep up the great work.

DebbiR@4 wrote
on Dec 30, 2009 3:21 PM

Thank you so much, Kathleen! I've been knitting and cabling for many, many years, but have always been a slave to my cable needle. I've noticed that cable needles always seem to be Somewhere Else when I need them. I used this technique on a cabled hat I needed to finish quickly and was able to make it in one day. I am SO hooked! I do have suggestions for anyone who might be a little apprehensive about pulling the needle out of the work.

1) Loosen the tension on your feeder yarn before removing the needle. If you don't loosen the tension, you might wind up removing the knitting from the completed cable stitches as you remove the needle - or at least make it so that the loops disappear into the previous row.

2) I sort of brace the completed stitches with a left finger as I'm removing the needle to hold them in line while I reinsert the needle. This seemed to help keep the loops where I want them and keep them lined up properly.

3) Make the remove/reinsert happen all in one smooth movement and there will be less chance of dropping a stitch when reinserting the needle. This, of course, takes practice which brings me to:

4) Remember that learning any new technique takes time and a willingness to be awkward at first.

Thanks again, Kathleen!

DorothyLWM wrote
on Dec 30, 2009 9:05 AM

This IS a great way to do them!  Someone had suggested to me before to just slip off the two loops, then do the 3rd & 4th, then pick up the 1st & 2nd, but I couldn't stand the worry of them slipping away, with that method.  

With this method, you've got the first two stitches safely on your needle while you work stitches 3 & 4, and then the first two stitches are only off your needle for a second, at a time when you have your fingers underneath them holding them secure for picking up again.

Thank you! for sharing this idea.  I love cables, but I don't love either kind of cable needle.  I can't wait to try this.

madamq wrote
on Nov 2, 2009 9:39 PM

WOW! I'm bookmarking this page! And I'll probably be watching this on repeat for an hour trying to get my cables right..

I've never tried cables before and I am new to the knitting world.. and this.. I think I can ACTUALLY do!!

Thank you very much for making this video!

cjknits wrote
on Oct 27, 2009 4:10 PM

I like this method for cables with no more than a total of 6 sts.  It's just too hard for me to keep 4 sts from coming unknit when I do the "release".  Why do we put our yif when we do a right cross?

bhavana wrote
on Oct 26, 2009 6:23 AM

Wow! Thank you.

Debs3boyz3 wrote
on Oct 21, 2009 11:50 AM

Kathleen,

I could not get the video to load but am very anxious to see this method as I'm not crazy about pulling my stitches off the needle before knitting them. Do you, by any have written directions, or still pictures, instead of a video? I'd really appreciate it. Thanks so much, Deborah

ToniK wrote
on Oct 21, 2009 9:24 AM

Btw, my mama taught me say nice things or keep my mouth shut!

Thanks again, for this wonderful tutorial!

ToniK wrote
on Oct 21, 2009 9:18 AM

Thank you, Kathleen! I can see I will love this method so use it immediately.

It's just too bad I bought new cable needles.

on Oct 20, 2009 10:47 AM

Millymelon: This pattern uses a DK weight yarn knit on large needles. That's what achieves the blousy look.

Hope this helps.

Kathleen

PhyllisM wrote
on Oct 20, 2009 7:45 AM

How about writing out this new cabling without a cable needle turorial as you did on the first one.  It would be easier to have step-by-step instructions in hand.

Maryann@612 wrote
on Oct 19, 2009 1:35 PM

,,, I agree w/ Trudy T  !!  ~  m.

milroygrams wrote
on Oct 18, 2009 8:29 PM

I also can't open t he video.  Just a glitch or am I doing something wrong?  I am pretty good at needlework but computers???????

WendyB@5 wrote
on Oct 18, 2009 7:48 PM

I hated doing cables.  Having to mess with the cable needle seemed to interupt the flow of knitting.  Then I learned this technique and no longer avoid cables.  

Changing techniques is optional and being happy with the results is not.  I have never seen anyone who knits the same way I do but we all make beautiful things. So do it how ever you want if you like what you get!  

JoMarg wrote
on Oct 18, 2009 1:11 PM

I can't get the video to open and wonder whether it is possible to download printed directions for cabling without a cable needle.  Your earlier version was very helpful but this sounds even better.  Thanks for both.

    jmhh23@comcast.net

LindyLou wrote
on Oct 17, 2009 5:13 PM

Gasp!  

When you pull that needle out, it's all I can do to remind my heart to keep beating.  I suppose this panicky phobic feeling means that I'll forever be under the thumb of  of my cable needle.  Watching your able stitch juggling sure is fun, though and maybe I will get my courage up and try it myself some day.

Great job on the video.

bubbytank wrote
on Oct 17, 2009 4:02 PM

Watched the video of the cable done without an extra needle.

1) You "throw" your yarn and I found it difficult to follow your hand.  I work the continental style and have for 75 years.  I, find your style of cabling awkward.Will still work the other way with the extra needle.  Not racing the clock with my work. Want the project what ever it is, to be inviting, well worked and feel wonderful when wearing.

2) Of course this is my opinion.  Will be 80 on the 27th of this month, and as stated have been knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting, rug making, etc. add nauseum, since I have been 5 yrs. old.  Find that a great deal of the old country style of work still is the easiest way to do things.

Thank you for your continued information.

Trudy T

Cait@2 wrote
on Oct 17, 2009 3:26 PM

I have used this method often when I couldn't fine my cable-needle or one that is the correct size.   I look forward to more brilliant ideas...

zimm45y wrote
on Oct 17, 2009 3:14 PM

What a fantastic idea, I can't wait to try it out on the gorgeous peasant top.  I love this website, since joining I have learnt so many wonderful techniques.

Gramzi wrote
on Oct 17, 2009 1:58 PM

Kathy,

In making two sleeves at once, have you tried to keep the two strands of yarn under control by putting each of the balls/skeins of yarn in a separate zip-top plastic bag? This works great for me. You close the bag, leaving the last half-inch open for the yarn.

Gramzi

on Oct 17, 2009 11:26 AM

To Lynda from Oregon:

I also untwist my 2 strands by letting the yarn dangle, but I hold the yarn below the needles and let the yarn balls twist.  That way you don't have to worry about loosing your stitches.  I keep my yarn balls together in a zip lock bag and one ball strand coming out of the left corner and the other ball coming out of the right corner and the zip is closed in betweem the two strands.  This is great for socks and the magic loop method when doing two at once socks.  (I learned this technique in the office from untwisting telephone cords!)

Donna from Camas, WA

moir@ wrote
on Oct 17, 2009 11:24 AM

Thank you for an easy-to-understand video. Will have to try this method again - have always been terrified of dropping stitches! (such a hassle to pick up, especially if there's a pattern)

Dragonfly

lovesyoyo wrote
on Oct 17, 2009 8:41 AM

Thank you so much for sharing this technique! I will never forget knitting a cabled baby blanket while waiting to board a plane, I had put the bamboo dpn i was using as a cable needle between my lips inbetween cables but when called to board forgot it was there so it quietly fell to the floor as I rushed to make my plane. What a boring flight!

starchaser wrote
on Oct 17, 2009 8:12 AM

Sounds interesting. It definitely needs some getting use to.

DeniseAL1210 wrote
on Oct 17, 2009 8:00 AM

Kathleen:  From photos we look to be about the same size, yet I can never find patterns that fit me correctly.  I've made sweaters for my daughters, my grandson and my husband, but nothing for myself.  I end up taking it apart, starting over (usually after the 4th time, I give up).  I would LOVE if you can tell where to get the pattern for whatever you are making. (a free post would be even better, since I have about 6 books of "plus" patterns and can't get a one to fit right!)

lemony wrote
on Oct 17, 2009 5:10 AM

very clear and easy to understand. I'm a beginner knitter.

DianeS@36 wrote
on Oct 17, 2009 3:48 AM

This is a neat and quick method, but am I the only one bothered by the use of the words 'twisted stitches'  to designate  'crossed stitches'?

Diane

Patty@112 wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 8:15 PM

What a contrived and time consuming way to do cables...what's wrong with an old fashioned cable needle?  I tried the first method that you demonstrated and became totally frustrated with how it slowed down my work.  This method looks just as tedious.  I'm a very fast knitter (been knitting over 50 years!) and this slowed me down to a crawl.  Could not wait to get out my trusty "J" hook.

EllenH wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 7:38 PM

Yes, Moira .... I'm on your wavelength. I'll give it another try but feel that over more than two stitches I would feel 'safer' with the tried n' true needle. Perhaps it's a case of horses for courses!

Btw, I'm not a newbie cabler - have been doing it for years ;-)

AnnR wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 7:16 PM

I don't know what I am doing wrong, but I can never get the video's. I get it for about 1 second, then it stops, then it starts again for 1 second.

Kathleen, the little that I saw, looks so simple. Can you give me instructions in another way, so that I can print it?

I would really appriciate that.

Thanks.

Moira wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 6:13 PM

Am I the only one that does not find this method any faster than using a cable needle?   Maybe with more practice?

daniwilson13 wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 5:25 PM

If you want to knit with speed you should try the Hungarian style of knitting.  It's MUCH faster.  Once you've got it down pat you can knit without looking and I'm twice as fast as my fellow knitters.  They are just set in their ways.

millymelon wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 5:04 PM

Hi, I'm struggling to find the yarn for the peasant blouse in the UK - what can I do? Is there anything similar I can substitute?

ascdsc wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 4:37 PM

I had the same issue as the Hat Lady - could not link to video.  How about the same format for instructions as the twist-first-then-knit with figures 1, 2, etc included also?  ac

the hat lady wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 3:55 PM

Couldn't link to the video, seems to be disabled or something.  Am interested in seeing this new method demonstrated or at least described.

Marion

MomKris wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 3:30 PM

Hmmm.  No video.  Page just goes to "done" with text & the peasant blouse writeup.

Have never experienced this problem with other tutorials -- am traveling & working "mouseless" from a wireless connection.  Is there trick for getting at videos in this situation?

MomKris.

on Oct 16, 2009 2:23 PM

My KAL group is working on the Great American Aran Afghan with LOTS of cables. I'll have to show them this technique. We might be able to finish more than a square a month at this rate! Thanks for sharing with your adoring public!

MsMerricat wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 1:59 PM

Wonderful! I always felt like that extra needle dangling there stretched the stitches. I will try this with my next cable project. The fewer needles I have to manage the better!

Tamara@2 wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 1:32 PM

I really like this method. I am all for less needles. Thanks for sharing.

pcox wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 1:08 PM

I think I like this non-cable needle method much better than the other - I hate dropping stitches and having to scoop them back up risking losing the loop you need - so was always a little leary of this other method - this one does not look so intimidating, I may even try it!

PattiM@11 wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 12:57 PM

Wow!! Remarkable!!  Cant wait to try.  Thanks for the tip.

Patti

Jan Cheeney wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 12:23 PM

This method for doing cables looks wonderfully easy.  Where were you when I just knit a cabled sock pattern!  I so could have used this method.  I love the way cables look when finished but get to hate the process.  

tommysgirl wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 12:20 PM

Thanks so much for this!! I was grumpy last night when starting a hat that has cables on it and not finding my cable needle...no need now!!! WooHoo!

CMA wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 12:12 PM

Front - left

Back - right

If the stitches are held to the front and knitted later, you get a left-leaning cable.

If held to the back, you get a right-leaning cable.

I can small cables without a cable needle, but I haven't tried six stitch or larger ones. The next cable gets the no-needle treatment.

on Oct 16, 2009 11:49 AM

I am new to cabling, and I usually think of it as a cable FRONT or a cable BACK depending on where I hold my cable needle.  On the video, is the first one a cable front and the second one a cable back, or is it the other way around?

The video is WONDERFUL and I want to try out the technique as soon as possible, but my instructions in the pattern say front and back, not left and right.

THANKS!

NanB wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 11:47 AM

Video tutorials are a great help.  Thanks.

Louise@4 wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 10:59 AM

OHG!  No wonder people are afraid of cable work!  I wouldn't recommend this for a newbie or even the average knitter.  I'd sure find a way to use something else for a cable needle (orange stick works well)  It just seems like a really hard way to do something simple.

zeldabows wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 10:50 AM

Thank you for this video.  I was going to take a course at a LYS to learn cables because they looked so complex to me.  I am glad I found this  to show me  how simple cables are.  

Now all I have to do is to get brave and take stitches off the needles...although I guess in theory  since there is a yarn over before and after wrapped around the stitches it will only take a little practice.  before it becomes naturally!!.

LyndaC wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 10:26 AM

On working with two strands at once (as for 2 sleeves at once) -- yes, the yarn will twist. It comes from flipping the work over between right side and wrong side rows. I have friends who are **oranized**  :-)  and who claim if you flip the work from the right hand edge on right side rows and from the left hand edge on wrong side rows, it will not twist.

That's too much thinking for me!  So when the twists accumulate enough to be annoying, I just shove the work the center of the needle, then reach down to the two strands of yarn and put several fingers between them, pulling up gently and separating the strands. The needle, with the work on it, hangs free at the end of the strands and eventually beginst twirling itself around as the twists UNtwist.

It's the same technique embroiderers use to remove kinks from their working thread -- although letting a teensy emboidery needle twirl around it a little less scary than letting a knitting needle with hours & hours & hours of stitches on it twirl around loose!

--Lynda in Oregon

on Oct 16, 2009 10:23 AM

Hi Folks,

I learned this cabling method from a friend at my LYS.

I'm not surprised Grumperina has a video tutorial for this methos--she's so great at passing along great info. I learned some wonderful tips on putting in zippers from her website.

Take care,

Kathleen

Tephra wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 10:16 AM

Oh, that is brilliant! I've been doing the "cross the stitches before you knit them" method but with less stretchy yarn and wider cables that can get really tight. This method should have much more "ease" in the working.

I should cast on for that Estes Vest in my queue so I can try it. :)

Pat Mac wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 10:04 AM

Kathleen,

  I look forward to my "Knitting Daily" inspiration and read each installment in awe of your talent AND consistent enthusiasm for all things knitted!  You do a great job AND I particularly appreciate the cabling video that you created.  Easy to understand AND very helpful.

thank you for your almost daily contribution to my joy in knitting!

Sincerely,

Pat

High Springs, FL

rachmouse wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 9:09 AM

Yep - I use this method all the time.  I first learned it from the Grumperina tutorial as well..  I think she posted it at least a couple of years ago.    It would be nice to see the credit of where Kathleen "discovered another method" in the article.  :-)

Bev@2 wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 8:56 AM

Thanks for sharing this!  Now if only someone could come up with a faster, easier way to work Nupps!

NancyS@46 wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 8:51 AM

Do you think the girl modeling the Peasant Blouse didn't look like she just rolled out of bed!! For God sake -- use a brush or comb!!! Her hairdo takes away from what you are suppose to be looking at!!!

Shewolf wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 8:27 AM

This is the only way I'll do cables. I stumbled on this method a couple years ago, and it's the reason I started cables in the first place! It's so much easier than using an extra needle.

I find it to be less fiddly, especially when you're already juggling 4 with a pair of socks.

WendyL@11 wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 8:18 AM

this is great!! will be helpful for working on cables in public transport and i totally agree with Bonny, it's not for the faint hearted. :)

BonnyM wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 8:09 AM

This is not for the faint of heart knitter!  I can see some of my customers gasping when I ask them to take the needle out of their stitches.  I know it works because Annie Modesitt teaches this technique and I've tried.  It's great!

GretchenH@4 wrote
on Oct 16, 2009 7:58 AM

This is a great way to do cables -- since I learned this method I haven't gone back to the old cable needle.  I think I saw it first on a tutorial by Kathy, aka Grumperina!  

It's a little fiddly at first, but once you get it, it makes a cabled pattern fly.  I don't know that I would have lasted Koolhaas otherwise!