Grandma Knitty Home
Knitty®: little purls of wisdom
what's the editor up to lately?feature articlesKnitty's generous selection of patternsKnittyspinşarchive of previous issuesMeet other Knitty readers and chat in our coffeeshop!sign up for the free Knitty newsletterLooking for an ad fromone of our advertisers? Click here!Our tiny, perfect online shopping mallGet yourself a little Knitty treat!read the behind-the-scenes news at Knitty

Find exactly what you're looking for

The answer to your question about Knitty is probably here!

Take home something Knitty today

Advertise with Knitty

Get your cool stuff reviewed in Knitty

Full information about how  to get published in Knitty

Read exactly what FREE PATTERNS really means...respect our designers and authors rights [and thank you]

Knitty is produced in a pro-rabbit environment

© Knitty 2002-2008. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. This means you.


< click for more!

Pattern Tamers

Last issue, I talked about the cabling basics. This issue, I’ll be attempting to delve a little deeper into some miscellaneous cable knowledge – hints for reading charted cable symbols, making a decorative mini-cable and correcting a mis-crossed cable a few rows down.

Deciphering cable symbols:
The symbols in charted cable patterns vary widely. In fact there seem to be nearly as many ways to chart a cable as there are cables to chart. Always, always check the symbol key for detailed instructions on how to work the cable in question.

Thankfully it is not too terribly uncommon to have some variation that shows which direction the cable leans.

For example, this is a symbol for a simple four stitch, front cross cable:

You can see that the column in the middle of the symbol leans towards the left:

Last issue we learned that to make a LEFT leaning cable, you hold the stitches in FRONT of the work.

See how that works?

The same is true for the right leaning, back cross cable:

You can see how it resembles the cable it represents…

…which can make it a bit easier to read the charts at a glance.  Of course, this depends on having firmly embedded in your brain that for right-leaning cables, you hold the stitches in the back, and for left-leaning cables you hold the stitches in the front. Perhaps you can think “be RIGHT BACK” and … well, both leFt and Front have the letter “f” in them. (Okay, that last one was lame.)


These very cute, very simple mock cables are excellent borders to larger cables and are quite easy to do, once you learn their secrets.

To start you will need to have two knitted stitches on a purl background, like this:

Insert your right-hand (working) needle into the second stitch on the left-hand needle – labeled STITCH #2 in the picture above:

… and knit it first. Do not slip it off. Leave it in its position on the left hand needle. (I know this is weird. Press on.)

Now insert the right hand (working) needle into STITCH #1:

and knit it. Then slip the two worked stitches off the left hand needle at the same time.

Do this every 4th row for a miniature cable that looks like this:

You can also make three- and four-stitch mock cables. Simply knit the stitch farthest to the left first then work your way back towards the right hand needle, slipping them together after they are all knitted.

On the other rows, just “knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches”.

Knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches

You’re going to see this quite a bit in cable patterns. Every other row - wrong side rows or every second row when you’re knitting in the round - will instruct you to knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches. Or in other words work the stitches as you come to them. Just in case anyone has waded through mock cables and happens to be wondering how to tell the difference between a knit and a purl stitch by sight, here you go:

When you’re looking at a knit stitch, it will appear as though the yarn across the needle is wearing a scarf. When you’re looking at a purl stitch, it will appear as if it’s got a noose around its neck.

Correcting mis-crossed cables found a few rows later:

If you discover that you have crossed a cable the wrong way a few rows back, you can try this procedure.

Remove the cabled stitches (not the surrounding purl stitches, only the stitches that are crossed while cabling) from the needles.

This can be scary, but the alternative is ripping the entire work back those few rows. What do you have to lose? If you’re new to this or are cabling with a slippery yarn (like cotton or silk) you might want to insert a “safety line” below the mis-crossed cable so that your yarn doesn’t go slithering too far down.

Pull the yarn out of these stitches, row by row, until the mis-crossed cable suddenly goes from looking like this:

 to this:

As you can see, you are back to beyond the point when you mis-crossed the cable.

Notice how the threads that you’re pulling out of the stitches are coming from the surrounding stitches. You’re going to be working with the lowest thread first, then working your way up.

Slip the stitches back onto the left hand needle and then slip the appropriate stitches onto a cable needle.

If you knit holding the yarn in your left hand, you have an advantage here.
Just slip your left index finger under the yarn you want to work with, and reknit the cable, crossing it properly this time.

However, because of the space your finger takes, you may wind up with extra yarn between the last stitch in the cable and the stitch after the cable.

One solution to this is to slip the stitches you’ve just worked back and forth from the left hand needle to the right hand needle a few times to redistribute the tension in the yarn.

If you knit with the yarn in your right hand you might find it difficult to “flick” the yarn properly. In this case, a crochet needle may very well be your best friend. Just use the crochet hook in your right hand instead of the knitting needle to pull the yarn through, and then slip the stitches back onto the knitting needle.

This is pretty much all I can think of to tell you about cables! There are ways to correct mis-crossed cables further down in your work with duplicate stitching, but – alas – I have not managed to do it and make it come out looking good. (If I ever manage to do it well, you will be the first to know!) Now, get out there and knit something cabled!

Stitch n Bitch by Debbie Stoller:
A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker



Theresa is a 30-something nurse slash IT consultant who posts rather infrequently at her own blog, Bagatell and somewhat more frequently at the group blog, House of Wool Repute.

She is currently eagerly awaiting spring’s return to Norway.