Cables are used to make ropes, plaits, diamonds and trellis shapes and are often combined with embossed stitches to make rich panels of textured pattern. Aran sweaters are a classic example of cables used to great effect.
Cable needles are either straight or kinked. The kink is there to help to keep the stitches on the needle. They come in a variety of sizes suited to the yarn you are working. They are double-pointed so you can slide the stitches onto them at one end and then work them from the other end.
Cable four back (C4B):
When you are working cable stitches you have to learn to move the stitches to the front and to the back. Here we look at the effect produced when you work the stitches at the back. 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 background 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 back 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 left to right.
You can repeat these four rows to form a repeated cable pattern. Two stitches are moved every third row and this creates a cable that looks like this.
Cable four back (C4B) on six rows:
You can create a different looking cable by increasing the number of rows the pattern is worked over. Cast on the required number of stitches including four stitches for the cable panel. Knit the 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 back 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 left to right 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. Purl the four stitches on the sixth row to complete the first cable repeat.