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34 Comments
  • This is very timely! I am knitting Anniversaire by Veera Välimäki which is all cables and knitted in one piece from the top down. It’s a complex and challenging knit and continually interesting. I keep checking the finished projects on Ravelry for tips from other knitters and have been intrigued by the people who say they knit the whole cardigan without using a cable needle – how?? how could they possibly do it??? Now I know. Thanks.

  • Brilliant!!

  • This method will help me avoid the “ping” of a metal cable needle hitting the floor during a guild meeting, or bouncing into the aisle on a plane.

  • I really must try this, but I get nervous! I already get nervous about dropping stitches when I use a cable needle; I really exaggerate my movements.

  • You did it again – exactly the tip I need for today’s project! Thanks.

  • A great bonus of this technique is that you get used to taking stitches off your needles, so you may find yourself willing to try more radical fixes. And you don’t panic nearly as much when stitches come off by mistake.

  • Totally agree with MKG! I haven’t used a cable needle in years unless it is 2/2/2 cable or something (stitches held in front and back)

    • I’ve been using this technique on heavily cabled socks on small needles. It works fine when the “dropped” stitches are in front but I have been loosing them when they are behind. So I have started, when they will be behind, to transfer all 4 stitches to the right hand needle and then do the switch, so that the dropped stitches are in front for that cable too. Works perfectly.

      • Sorry, the above was mentioned as a general reply but I seem to have attached it to an existing one!

      • Just now read your comment – your solution is brilliant! I’m knitting socks with lots of Bavarian twisted stitches and your tip is much appreciated!

  • This is quite possibly the most important post I’ll read all day, Covid19 be damned! Perfect timing for the last remaining 18 rows of traveling cables waiting for me to complete.

  • Great! This looks like fun! I’ll try it soon!

  • Explained so well–and photos are great. Thank you!

  • Thank you Kate! Always appreciate when pictures accompany instructions

  • Best description I have ever seen of this technique – thanks so much. (I’ve done it in the past, but it’s been awhile.) Part of the fun is how clever you feel!

  • I remember Kay or Ann posting about this years ago. It changed my cable knitting life! Thank you!

  • I can’t be the only one who never uses a cable needle, because I replace the cable needle with whatever stray dpn is in the bottom of my knitting bag, including the broken-in-half wood dpn that lives in my sock bag. It doesn’t fall out of the stitches, because as soon as I lift off the moving stitches I poke the tip of the dpn into the knitting until I’ve knit the first part of the cable, then I unpoke the tip and slide the stitches back onto the left needle, ready to knit. If there are frequent cables, I poke the dpn in and out of the lower part of the knitting to park it where it’s handy yet secure. I’ve tried the no-cable-needle technique with success, but I still go back to my dpn system as it seems less fussy!

    • I don’t get going to all that trouble and risk of losing stitches just to avoid carrying a small cable needle. IMO using a cable needle is way easier than doing this. Surely I am not the only one who feels this way.

      • I have to agree Moira. I can, and have done it without a cable needle, but I’m much faster and more comfortable using a cable needle. I do like that part about impressing others at knit night though!

    • When I use a cable needle I wear one knit wrister or fingerless glove and stick the cable needle in it, super handy to grab and replace

  • Yay! Thanks, Kate! 😀 I can’t wait to try this on my current project on the needles…

  • I’ve been doing this technique for years and love it. To save the stitches from dropping or getting out of control, I hold onto the right needle when it has the stitches to be crossed, and squeeze the knitting where the live stitches will be, slide out the left needle, then slip it back into the stitches. By holding the whole thing tight, the stitches don’t go anywhere.

    • That’s what I do too, pinch the free stitches so they don’t unravel while popping them back on in the crossed order.

  • My one real bugaboo regarding knitting is senseless inefficiency, yet I am what is described as a process knitter. Love love love the materials, ditto the tools. But. My capacity for tolerance is challenged beyond endurance by anything fiddly that does not have doggone good justification. So pleased Kate is on the planet so there is someone to come up with all those good ideas that escape so many of us, moi included. Yay, Kate!

  • Awe. SOME!!!!! Totally saving this article, thank you!

  • Drop the mike! Again, such a perfectly written explanation with brilliant photos to match. Thank you!

  • Had to come back to add – tried it, LOVE IT! This is my new go-to for 2 and 1 stitch cables! What a joy! Thanks, Kate 😀

  • Thank you for being very detailed – such as stating ‘purlwise’ into a stitch. So many instructions miss the direction of a slipped stitch. Much much appreciated.

  • Having trouble bookmarking this post

  • Definitely a bookmark article. Very good clear instructions and excellent photos.
    (Aside: What are the dimensions of the Brittany cable needle?)

  • Hi Kate, thank you for this article. Your instructions are always so good and the pictures are great!

    • Hi again, I intended to say that I recently bought Field Guide No. 9 with Norah Gaughan’s cable patterns. I will be trying this technique again because of this article.

  • This was a wonderfully clear description of how this technique works. I enjoy cabling so much more not needing a cable needle. As a side note, I also have Kate’s video workshop on fixing knitting mistakes and want to say it was worth the price of admission for how to fix cables, since I managed to bugger up one of my cables.

  • Great article — thanks, Kate!