Cabling without a cable needle is a useful skill to have. Even if you don’t adopt it for all your cabling, it means that you can still keep working when the sofa eats your cable needle or when the little blighter’s made a bid for freedom on the bus. Once you’ve acquired it, it makes cabling faster and less fiddly.
So suppose you’ve worked your way across to right before the stitches you need to cable. In our example, we’re going to cable three stitches in front of three other stitches (a pattern would probably call this C6F, meaning “a cable involving six stitches, with the right hand ones going in front of the left hand ones”.)
Work across to just before the six stitches, and slip them purlwise to the right hand needle, so they look like the picture below.
Put the tip of your left hand needle into the front of the rightmost three unworked stitches (in this example, they’re the smooth knit column stitches).
With your left hand, firmly pinch the left hand three stitches, the ones that make up the purl column in the picture, just below the needle.
Still maintaining the pinch, slip the right hand needle out of the six stitches. Nothing bad will happen. Your pinching will stop the leftmost ones from dropping and the rightmost ones are still on the lefthand needle.
Now put the tip of the righthand needle straight back into those leftmost stitches.
At this point, you’ve really completed the cable, since you’ve switched the position of the stitches on the needle. Now you just have to knit those stitches and you’re done.
Slip the three stitches from the left hand needle onto the tip of the right hand needle.
Then you just have to work the stitches, knitting or purling them according to what the pattern tells you (in the case, we’re keeping the purls purled and the knits knitted):
If the cable is to move to the right rather than the left (C6B instead of C6F, for example), just put the left hand needle tip into the back of the rightmost stitches at the stage of the second picture instead of into the front.
That’s it! The first couple of times you do it, it’s a bit slow, but you’ll soon speed up, to the point that it’s much faster than using a cable needle.
Ready to give it a try? Then we’d highly recommend the “I Heart Cables” pattern from Justyna Lorkowska.Â The pattern itself is free (thanks Justyna!) and our versions above were knit in Soft Merino Aran (2 balls) and Falkland Aran (1 skein).