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Friday, 5 December 2014

TUTORIAL - cabling without a cable needle

By very happy chance, our new accessory book Finishing Touch has proven to be a godsend for my Christmas gift knitting this year. Stuffed full of some exceedingly quick knits that are also beautiful and practical, I haven't had to look any further for my 'go to' pattern.

The Elika Wristwarmers tick all of those boxes and a few more for me! I love using the Naturally Soft Aran for speed, but also for the wonderful texture and warmth it creates in the knitted fabric. The colour palette too offers so much scope for personalising something as simple as these mitts so that even knitting them multiple times (and I have!), the choice of colour combination makes them unique and fresh every time.

I imagine that reading the pattern, some knitters might be daunted at the thought of cabling every other row to produce this lovely rich texture - it can make progress slow if you are having to manipulate a cable needle for every set of stitches and on every other row -  but have no fear, as help is at hand! I have recently embraced the revolutionary technique that is 'cabling - without a cable needle'!

For some of you, this will be old news and I confess I had heard about it a good long while ago, but never felt comfortable enough to put aside my trusty cable needle for an entire project. The Elika's are a great first pattern to try this technique and master it so that you will feel confident enough to try some more complex cabling.

The idea is merely knitting the second stitch on your left needle before knitting the first so that it effectively swaps the order of your stitches. And this is really all that any cable stitch is - a rearranging of the order of stitches to produce a twisted effect.

So much choice! You can see only one in Cherry Red and Cinder - I'm still working on the other one!

In the video below you can see the progress of my cabling across a short section of the row. I begin with demonstrating the 'C2F' cable which is knitting into the front of the second stitch without slipping it off the needle, then knitting into the front of the first stitch and finally slipping both stitches off the needle together. The second instruction used for the Elika Wristwarmers is 'C2B' - which is knitting into the back of the second stitch on the left needle without slipping it off and then knitting into the back of the first stitch before slipping them both off together.


I found it quick to pick up, and very easy to read my stitches so that I could see which type of cable I needed to create next (even after I had put down my knitting). This is of course the key to a great pattern you can knit multiple times - intuitive and easily memorised so that it becomes almost second nature.

My last tip is to divide your Main Colour into 2 equal balls (weight them - 25g each) before you cast on so that you can use every last scrap of yarn. Knitting exactly to pattern and hitting the specified gauge, I found that I had just about enough left to stitch them up! If you bought 2 balls of the main colour and only 1 of the contrast you would be able to get 2 pairs out easily.

I'm now knitting my fourth pair, with plans for a fifth, and possibly a sixth . . . and my cable needle is nowhere in sight!

(posted by Max)


  1. I have just started to knit these for my Nan and I will definitely try knitting them this way! Thank you for the tutorial! :)

    1. You are very welcome Louisa! They knit up SO much quicker :)