Cable knitting is a way of twisting or carrying stitches across the fabric; this is done by working the stitches out of sequence. In order to do this, the stitches being moved have to be held on a cable needle and then worked in their new position. When the cable needle is held at the front of the fabric the cable stitches cross from right to left, when it is held at the back the cable is formed from left to right.
A short double-pointed needle or needle with cable needle with a kink is used to hold the stitches out of position at the front or back of the fabric. One, two or more stitches can be held on the cable needle and then worked out of position.
Cable four front (C4F):
This is a classic cable knit where two stitches are moved out of position to make the cable. Cables are often worked on a background of reverse stocking stitch as this shows off the texture of the cable. Cast on the required number of stitches for the background plus four stitches for the cable panel. The first row is the right side of the fabric. Work the reverse stocking stitch and then knit the four stitches in the centre to start the cable panel.
On the second and every wrong side row, purl the four stitches that comprise the cable panel
Continue in pattern to the third row, where the cable will be worked. Work to the position of the cable and then slip the next two stitches onto a cable needle and hold at the front of the work.
Knit the next two stitches from the left-hand needle and then knit the two stitches held on the cable needle. Continue to the end of the row.
Purl the four stitches on the fourth row to complete the first cable repeat. You can see that the two stitches have been moved out of position and now cross diagonally from right to left.
Continue in pattern, working the cable on every third row of the pattern to give a cable that looks like this.
Cable four front (C4F) on six rows:
You can create a different effect by increasing the number of rows between each cable crossing. Cast on the required number of stitches including four stitches for the cable panel. Knit the cable panel stitches on the first and third rows and purl them on the second and every wrong side row.
Work to the fifth row and the position of the cable. Slip the next two stitches onto a cable needle and hold at the front of the fabric. Knit the next two stitches from the left-hand needle and then knit the two stitches on the cable needle. Continue to the end of the row.
Purl the sixth row to complete the first pattern repeat. Again, you can see that the cable moves from right to left across the other stitches.
Continue in this way working the cable on every fifth row of the six-row pattern. The resulting cable is more elongated and the curve is more shallow than a cable worked over a four-row repeat.