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How to Knit Cables

Updated on September 10, 2014

Why I love cables so much

I live in the Outer Hebrides and Celtic Knots are everywhere. I loved them even before I came to live here so I'm in heaven. Many knitted cables resemble Celtic Knots as the cables look as if they go 'under and over, under and over'.

The way to tell a true Celtic Knot, is if you follow the line - over, under, over, under etc, you should arrive back where you started. The knot should be continuous. Cables aren't always like that - but they do a great impression of it. And that's good enough for me!

Many people are frightened to attempt cables and I can understand why. I was nervous too when I first had a go. But to be honest, if you can do knit and purl stitches, you can cable. It really is that easy. And it's a great skill to have as there are so many lovely cable patterns out there. Baby blankets, scarves, sweaters, cushion covers, coats and even skirts!

So, let me take you by the hand and lead you into the magical world of cables.

What you'll need to knit cables

These suggestions would kit you out ready to start.

If you're already a knitter you'll probably have a few sets of needles. If you're just starting out, the bamboo ones below are a great buy.

When it comes to choosing the colour of your yarn, don't make it too dark as it can be hard to see the finished cables. Paler colours such as grey, pink or pale blue are ideal to get started on.

It's best to stick with a plain colour too - rather than a multicoloured or flecked yarn. Keeping to a plain colour makes it that much easier to see what you're doing and to understand how you got to the finished product.

Once you've mastered cables, the sky is the limit!

How to Knit Cables - Clear video instructions - knit in front of your pc and pause it while you knit!

If this is your first attempt at cable knitting, I would suggest that you have a trial run.

You can treat this like a tension square, which means that you knit (keeping count of how many rows you knit) until your knitting is a measurable square.

This will tell you what your tension is i.e. how tightly or loosely you knit.

The simplest cable is the rope twist. The cable itself is always an even number.

To start with, I would suggest casting on 12 stitches, knit a few rows and then start your cable. I've kept the number the same as in this helpful video.

Once you've mastered it, you could easily create the cabled scarf in the picture.

It's really a case of getting to understand how the cables go one way or the other and this is all down to whether the stitches on the cable needle are held at the front or back of your work.

Having a tension square of your cabled work can help you in many ways. Once you know how many stitches and rows make a certain size of square, it's easy to work out how many cables you would need to knit a cushion cover.

If you manage a scarf and cushion cover - the world is your oyster. And you will fall in love with cables...I promise!

Helpful books

If you're happier learning from a book, there are some great ones out there. Here are just a few to get you started...

Cables Untangled: An Exploration of Cable Knitting
Cables Untangled: An Exploration of Cable Knitting

This is a gem. Just look at that front cover - doesn't it make you want to knit? And that's half the battle really...if you're inspired you'll stick with it. And it's not that difficult anyway - really!

Continuous Cables: An Exploration of Knitted Cabled Knots, Rings, Swirls, and Curlicues
Continuous Cables: An Exploration of Knitted Cabled Knots, Rings, Swirls, and Curlicues

This is Melissa Leapman's follow up to 'Cables Untangled'. I've included it here because this lady really knows her cables and her books are inspiring!

Cables: The Basics
Cables: The Basics

This is slightly more expensive than the others but I've included it because Amazon reviewers were unanamous in their praise - it's got 5 stars right across the board.

Vogue® Knitting Stitchionary® Volume Two: Cables: The Ultimate Stitch Dictionary from the Editors of Vogue® Knitting Magazine (Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Series)
Vogue® Knitting Stitchionary® Volume Two: Cables: The Ultimate Stitch Dictionary from the Editors of Vogue® Knitting Magazine (Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Series)

If you really get bitten by the cable knitting bug, you might like to invest in this wonderful book which has more cables than you could ever imagine.


So how are you feeling about cables now?

Cables - good, bad or indifferent?

See results

Helpful Links to All Things Cable and Knitting

To Finish Up... - some inspiring projects. Just to show you what you can do with cables!

How cute is this skirt?

And you could make it longer...just keep knitting the main part before you add the bottom border.

Cabled Coat

How beautiful is this coat? I want to knit it soooo much...

I just love the way it kicks out at the bottom - must find the pattern!


Found the pattern! See below...

Take a Seat...

OK - I know this looks daunting - but actually it's not.

For starters, it's knitted on very big needles with very bulky yarn so it wouldn't take that long...

And what a talking point...come in...please sit down...oh, yes, I love it too...thank you (gloat, gloat). Just not sure about the bobbles - would they be comfortable to sit on? They'd probably flatten down after a little wear... It's just so beautiful, I'd be prepared to sit on the bobbles for a while :)

Comments? - I'd love to hear your thoughts on cables...

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    • jennabee25 profile image

      Jenn Dixon 

      4 years ago from PA

      Once I got the hang of cable knitting, it wasn't so scary, but they can be intimidating to new knitters. Thank you for helping to ease their fears!

    • faeriesong7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Collings 

      5 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @SteveKaye: Hi Steve_Kaye - many thanks! LOL at your comment. I can't believe sailors used to knit their own socks...I've never been able to turn a heel. I'm sure there's a lens on it somewhere...

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      These are amazing, unique works. I'm very impressed that you're able to make them. I tried knitting once (long ago in a galaxy, far, far away), and ended up with something that sort of, maybe, might have what could be called random cables on it. Actually, it was really bad knitting.

    • faeriesong7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Collings 

      5 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @webmavern: Hi webmavern - I love the coat best too. I'm going to have to track down the pattern. When I do, I'll add it to the lens!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Some beautiful things to knit! My favourite is the coat.

    • faeriesong7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Collings 

      5 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @Elsie Hagley: Wow kiwinana71 - two garments every 6 weeks! That's seriously impressive. I remember my Nan knitting Arans while watching TV and talking too! I'm so happy that the lens brought back good memories for you :)

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice. Many years ago I used to knit cardigans and jumpers, which we called Aran knitting in pure wool.

      Used to average about 2 woman's size garments every 6 weeks,the firm paid us knitters good money for that.

      Thanks for sharing, brought back memories.

    • faeriesong7 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Collings 

      5 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @Timewarp: Thanks for stopping by Timewarp. It is a great cover, isn't it? I think if I made it I'd leave out the 'bobbles' - might be a bit uncomfortable to sit on...

    • Timewarp profile image


      5 years ago from Montreal

      Hey, neat idea for a chair cover!


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