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Knitting Basics: How to Make a Cable Knit Sweater

Updated on September 15, 2012

A Modern Classic

A cable knit sweater is one of the finer things in life!  It seems even warmer and more comfortable than a traditional knitted sweater.
A cable knit sweater is one of the finer things in life! It seems even warmer and more comfortable than a traditional knitted sweater. | Source

How to Knit a Cable Knit Sweater

Knitting a cable knit sweater is just like knitting a regular sweater, the only difference in being the type of stitch that you use. There is the basic cable, the braided twist and the trinity, but the point of this Hub is to see how to design, and get started knitting a basic cable knit sweater.

The Creative Twist Design

The cable design is a true classic. Who knows who thought of it, and before how many hundreds of years ago it was discovered! There is a strong theory that shepherds who had nothing to do while watching their sheep graze started playing with balls of wool and started twirling them around sticks of wood.

There are Cable knit varieties in the British Isles, like the famous Aran sweater designs. There are probably more than 100 different variations, and if you really get into knitting yourself, you may be able to create a variation of your own.

How it works

The beautiful twisted design of a cable consists of a row of stitches, usually knit ones, that cross over to the left side time and time again on the vertical. How is it done? Well, the principle is quite simple, really.

Let's say you have a band of ten knit stitches. Preceding this band should be a different stitch like purl ones to give greater attention to the knit cable, let's say three purl, then ten knit, and again three purl.

When the row is tall enough, it's time to cross over. The first five knit stitches have to be parked somewhere. This is where your double pointed needle comes in, although you can use a crochet hook or anything else suitable to "park" the stitches.

Ignoring the first five, continue knitting the second group of five knit stitches. Now return to the first five and you have made a cross-over effect. Voila!

The Basic Sweater Construction

In making your cable knit sweater, you start off with the basic pattern. Many cable knit sweaters have a straight simple back to call more attention to the front, where the cables are gloriously highlighted. In this case, feel free to follow the directions on the Hub, How to Knit a Knit Sweater, below:

The Plan

After knitting a swatch, you will see how many stitches you need for your front section, for example. Let's say you require 88 stitches across. Graph paper is ideal for charting your pattern, if you like.

The cable design needs to be graphed before you knit.

For example, 88 stitches from left to right means four on each end can be purl, for example..

Then the first five on each side can be knit – 88-8-10 = 70 stitches.

In this case there is room for three sections of twenty with two sections of five knit columns in between each group of cables.

Each group of twenty consists of two Purl, 16 knit (which will be crossed over to make a cable) and again two Purl.

OK, let's graph it:

4+5+20+5+20+5+20+5+4 = 88

Knit can be an X, Purl can be an O, or try dashes and dots. The main thing is to get a system you can live with.

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Have you ever tried knitting cables?

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    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Great! as the weather gets cooler, I often find myself looking for wool... its great for relaxing the nerves and keeps me out of the refrigerator. I hope you enjoy your knitting kick. Cables are impressive - and luckily, manageable. Be sure to send a photo of your creation if you feel so inclined!

    • jennabee25 profile image

      Jenn Dixon 3 years ago from PA

      It's funny that I stumbled across this hub, I'm knitting cables myself right now. I'm on a cable kick, I guess you can say.

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 5 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      I bring a ball of yarn with me and work on things while traveling or having to wait somewhere. You never know what the creative genius in you will think of next!

    • Kalmiya profile image

      Kalmiya 5 years ago from North America

      Thanks for your hub on cable knitting; the video explains the process very clearly. I love knitting but have never done a cable but now feel it's possible to do although these days I rarely have to knit anymore!