Straight up, I have never used a cable needle while knitting on double-pointed needles.
Wellllll, I have now.
Let me give you a little free advice: do not begin your journey of discovery about using a cable needle and DPNs while on a sold-out Southwest flight from Nashville to New York, particularly when your seatmate is a dude with armrest-mooching issues who falls asleep with his head tilted up as if receiving a blessing that results in him snoring so astonishingly that your Bose noise-cancelling headphones are but a mockery. He broke through the sonic wall! He who could not be cancelled! Who was this freak of nature?
It was such a disaster, such a comical lack of success that I am proud that I managed to do the thing I rarely do, which was to stick my knitting back into my bag and just stop.
You can drop a cable needle on a flight like this maybe three times before you start to kind of dislike the whole concept of knitting.
I really wanted to have a great time making my Appleseed Mitts in Jill Draper’s Windham in the exuberant shade of Peridot. This rough launch was not what I’d anticipated. I couldn’t figure out a way to tape up that fella’s piehole. It was all I wanted to do in the whole world.
The good news is that I got through that trip despite an appalling lack of knitting.
When All Else Fails
When I got back to Nashville, I did the other thing I rarely do, which is to rip out all my work (a grand total of maybe 15 rows, 630 hard-fought stitches I’ll admit), and start over.
So, in the calm of my own home, with only an 18-pound cat to fool with the DPNs, I began again.
Kay, what a difference a day makes.
I decided the only way to get past my Southwest Airlines debacle was to knit as slowly as possible. To let the arrival of a cable needle in my Appleseed Mitts be a welcome thing: not “I have to” but “I get to.” (Thank you to commenter Francis for this life-altering gem.) (More thoughts on meditation here.) When I ditched my constant impulse to crank as fast as possible, it all became so simple.
Knits and purls. Rearranging the order of stitches. Decreases and increases. It’s just knitting, right?
As you may know, I’m a big fan of knitting cables without a cable needle. But there are many beautiful cables that require the use of a cable needle. The angled slidey stitch that Thea Colman chose for the cuff of these mitts is one of those.
This Brittany cable needle is most excellent. The wood has a bit of tooth to it, just enough to help a knitter hold on to those stitches. I like that it’s short and has a subtle narrowing in the center. LOVE YOUR GEAR, friends.
But how to be nimble with this thing? I saw a video on Creative Bug of Norah Gaughan, the high priestess of cable knitting, knitting away with her cable needle. (It looked like a DPN, actually.) Her solution for keeping track of her cable needle when not using it? She sticks it into her work below.
No big deal. Picks it back up when she needs it, snipsnap just like that.
This revelation changed everything for me—I couldn’t find a rhythm for how to hold the cable needle without, you know, constantly dropping it on the floor of an airplane with a guy snoring next to me.
PS So happy to see so many Bunchalongers joining our epic Bunchalong, in which we’re all going to knit a bunch of stuff from MDK Field Guide No. 8: Merry Making. Join the fray over in the Lounge, where the Bunchalong group is already cranking. And you could win a prize! Remember to post your Bunchalong pix to Instagram with #MDKbunchalong, to your Ravelry project page, or in the Lounge to be eligible for our weekly $50 MDK Shop credit prizes.
PSS I hasten to mention that there’s a correction to the Appleseed Mitts pattern here.