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Knitting Cables: Basics and Beyond

Nov 13, 2013

Telluride Aran by Amy Herzog

Cables are the "in" thing this fall and winter. They're everywhere in high-fashion, and I saw some cute cable knits at Target, too.

But I'm a knitter, and I'll make my own cabled sweater, thank you very much! I'm drooling over a cable project in the Winter 2013 issue of Interweave Knits: The Bread Basket Pullover and the Telluride Aran. They are simply beautiful. I think I'm leaning toward the Telluride. I love the heavily textured front and the plain stockinette back and sleeves. Lazy knitter, I guess, but I like the look. What do you think?

Aran sweaters are so beautiful and full of history. They take their name from the Aran Islands, off the west coast of Ireland. Fishing was the business of these islands, and warm wool sweaters were necessary for this type of work.

Aran knitters tell a story with their stitches. The diamonds are a wish for prosperity, and the ribbed insert indicates strength. The open link cables represent friendship and family bonds, the honeycombs are a wish for goodness, and the textures ask for a bountiful harvest.

Although the stitches and their placement in this design are employed in the traditional Aran manner, the contemporary shade creates a modern look appealing to today's knitters.

A lot goes into knitting cables, so I thought I'd arm you with some info from Knits editor Lisa Shroyer. Lisa recently recorded a webinar all about cables, and she shared the following:

Bread Basket Pullover
by Kathy Zimmerman

  • Cables take more yarn, usually at least 25 percent more. Heavily cabled projects, like the Bread Basket Pullover from Interweave Knits Winter 2013, can take almost double the yarn.
  • When you spend a lot of time on a beautiful cabled sweater, you want that work to show! So choose a yarn that works well with cable work, such as plied yarn, merino or other animal fibers, and solid color or subtly variegated yarns.
  • No matter how complex a cable project is, a single cable cross can go only one of two ways: Left or right! In order to cross stitches to the left, the rightmost stitches need to pass in front of the left most stitches; in order to cross stitches to the right, the leftmost stitches need to pass in front of the rightmost stitches.

—Lisa Shroyer, from Cable Forecast!

Cable knitting is fun and rewarding. We put together a Winter Cables digital bundle for you: Lisa's Cable Forcast! Webinar, the Winter 2013 issue of Interweave Knits, and our Step-by-Step Guide to Knitting Cables.Take a look at Lisa's webinar and learn so much more about the art of knitting cables, and then choose a beautiful cable pattern and cast on!


P.S. Are you knitting a cable pattern this winter? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!

Featured Product

Winter Cables Digital Kit

Availability: In Stock
Price: $38.97


Get warm this season with the Winter Cables Digital Kit. Knit classic cables and timeless sweaters for you and anyone on your holiday list! Kit includes Interweave Knits Winter 2014 eMagazine, Cables Forecast! webinar, and Step by Step Guide to Knitting Cables eBook.


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RebeccaA wrote
on Nov 22, 2013 10:30 PM

Just want to say how much I really like that beautiful teal cabled sweater.  I haven't made a cabled sweater in a long time.  Perhaps after the holidays (after I have done my gift-knitting), I will make a light-weight one that I can still wear in spring!

Jane Ancher wrote
on Nov 15, 2013 3:23 AM

Jeg er for tiden i gang med en cardigan. mønstret er fra DROPS - DROPS 151-1,

den bliver nok færdig en gang til foråret ;-)

on Nov 14, 2013 12:12 PM

I'm working on the Curry Cardigan by Cathy Payson. It's my first cable project and I'm having fun with it! I'm using Cascade wool in heather gray. I'm a slow knitter -- hoping I finish in time to wear it before it gets warm again!

sjc wrote
on Nov 13, 2013 9:43 PM

I'm knitting the Grandview sweater by Becky Herrick.  It's a Gansey type sweater and I'm knitting it with a DK weight 80% Wool, 20% Tussah Silk yarn that's raised in Livingston, MT and spun in Canada.  It's going to be beautiful in a light green.

Here's a link from Webs, they're carrying her patterns for the first time in the winter catalog that just came out:

I wish Interweave would feature Becky Herrick's patterns.  She has beautiful designs that vary from cables to colorwork, from sweaters to mittens.  She can be found on Ravelry under Sugar Tree Designs.

Sherry Carter

on Nov 13, 2013 7:20 PM

I love cables - even the simplest look like a million! AAP

on Nov 13, 2013 3:47 PM

Am working on a V-neck braided alpaca/silk sweater with 3/4 sleeves in deep red - for myself! - that has lain in a bag for the last two years. Very soft and nice. Hope to finish it this winter.

EssieB wrote
on Nov 13, 2013 1:46 PM

I don't have time for a sweater for myself this winter, so I am adding cables to smaller projects. I can still appreciate their beauty and it gives me practice working more intricate patterns. For instance, I might take the central panel on the front of Telluride and reduce it to an asymmetric addition to a hat or fingerless glove. A single column of diamond-shape cables could make a beautiful design on the back of a baby sweater. The sweaters in this edition of Interweaves Knits are giving me plenty of inspiration!

myturn wrote
on Nov 13, 2013 12:18 PM

I love the Telluride sweater and will add it to my list. Also like the Henley sweater on the cover. Right now I'm finishing up a cabled vest for my mom in a bulky weight yarn and have a pair of cabled fingerless gloves on the needles (don't remember where I got that pattern).

Makatura wrote
on Nov 13, 2013 11:56 AM

The Telluride was my favorite in the magazine as well,  but I usually love Amy Herzog's designs.  I have it on my want to do list, but am too backed up with other projects to get going on it this year...

Thea Lawford wrote
on Nov 13, 2013 10:51 AM

I LOVE aran patterns and have knitted so much from sweaters to hats and legwarmers. However this year I came across a book with viking inspired patterns very much resembling aran. My daughter bought me the book for my birthday and I have GOT to try some of the patterns once Ive finished my current projects :-) The book is called Viking patters for knitting and is by Elsebeth Lavold. It is worth having a look at if you want more inspiration.

JeannineB wrote
on Nov 13, 2013 10:14 AM

I just finished a "braided cable" sweater out of some Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk yarn that I've had on hand for several years.  I modified one of the patterns in Debbie's "Alpaca Silk" book (the pink pullover on the front), changed the way the sleeves were done, etc.  The sweater is very soft and comfortable to wear.  Now I'm looking for my next project - the yarn is some Estelle "Alpaca Cashmere Tweed" that I bought on sale some time ago - now I just have to figure out which cable design(s) I want to use and I'll get busy knitting!

MargaretH@3 wrote
on Nov 13, 2013 10:13 AM

Along with 9 friends, I am knitting the Plaits sweater from the cover of Interweave Knits in Winter 2012. I got a lovely heather green wool from Ella Rae, very much like the magazine['s version. Others are using various blends of wool and wool/alpaca in colors ranging from grey to pumpkin to tan. It's a great knit, complex but not difficult, enough to keep you interested without being overwhelming. We're having great fun doing it together.

WeavieBee wrote
on Nov 13, 2013 9:55 AM

I'm mostly through the Kathy Kelly Cabled Capelet - for a second time around. I love this pattern for the challenging cable rows and the "reset" purl rows, and the substantial weight that lets me know the recipient will stay warm this chilly winter. I did the first in Bernat Roving, and this second in Wool-Ease Thick and Quick - with my yarn choice decided by what was on discount at my LYS. :-)

Here's a link:

merck368 wrote
on Nov 13, 2013 9:43 AM

I am currently working an a sweater from the Essentially Feminine Knits book by Lene Samsoe.  I believe the pattern is called "Amanda".  Lots of cables and  honeycomb make it very visually appealling, and the pretty dusky rose yarn I am knitting with will make this perfect for my daughter.  This is only my second knitting project, and I am hoping to have it completed by the holidays...but since I am not quite half finished, I doubt that will happen.  It's the thought that counts, right?

mykidlets wrote
on Nov 13, 2013 9:39 AM

I'm knitting the "Refined Aran Jacket" for me(!) in a beautiful soft washable wool.  I'm substituting a more complicated cable pattern from the Vogue Stitchionary for the simple cables in the original pattern.  I'm almost finished the back, and it's only taken me 2 years so far!  

on Nov 13, 2013 9:30 AM

I'm working on a pattern from the 70's.  It's a poncho with cable panels and popcorns.  It's not too difficult, really, except that the directions are written out in paragraph style and little tricky to follow.  A chart would be helpful, but I don't have the time or personal drive to do the chart.  It's for a friend from church who found the yarn and pattern while cleaning out her closet.  She doesn't knit anymore and so asked me to work it for her.  I had to wash the yarn first as it was very musty smelling.