A Cable or Cable Stitch is a decorative technique that overlaps the fabric creating the appearance of a twisted rope or a braid. It requires a cable needle (also known as a cable stitch holder) or you can use a spare double pointed needle to serve the same purpose. To see our collection of cable needles, please click here.

Cables come in all shapes and sizes. Changing the number and orientation of the stitches, as well as the frequency in which you work a cable row all effect the look of your cable. Above is an image from the Cable Back Shell of a 22-stitch cable held to the back and repeated every 20th row. But before we get to that project, let's take a look at the fundamentals laid out below.

Basically, to create a cable you skip over a number of stitches, work another chunk of stitches out of order and then return to the skipped stitches, creating an overlap in the fabric. The stitches that are skipped over are temporarily held on a cable needle to either the front or the back of the piece.

Holding stitches to the back creates a right-leaning twist in the fabric, and holding stitching to the front creates a left-learning twist. Below we demonstrate the basics by first showing a 6-stitch cable held to the back (C6B), then a 6-stitch cable held to the front (C6F).

C6B: Cable 6 Back

The cable below is worked across a total of 6 stitches.

Slip 3 stitches purlwise onto a cable needle and let them hang in the back of your work.

Work across the next 3 stitches that are on the knitting needle.

Then, sliding the 3 on-hold stitches to the right end of the cable stitch holder, work the stitches off the cable needle.

After the cable row (the row in which I did a cable stitch), I worked 9 rows.

C6F: Cable 6 Front

The cable below is worked across a total of 6 stitches.

To cable to the front, follow the instructions above, except after slipping 3 stitches onto the cable needle, let the cable needle hang in the front of your work, rather than the back. Work the following 3 stitches, then work the stitches off the cable needle.

After the cable row (the row in which I did a cable stitch), I worked 9 rows.

Left Cross and Right Cross

We used these cables in our Traveling Cable Hat pattern. They may come in handy elsewhere too!

LC: Left Cross

cabled hat how to 1 72 dpi

When you get to a Left Cross (LC), you will have 3 knit stitches on the left hand needle.

cabled hat how to 2 72 dpi

Slip these three knit stitches purlwise to a cable stitch holder. (“Purlwise” means to insert the right needle into each stitch as if you were purling it.)

Keep the cable stitch holder at the front of the work.

cabled hat how to 3 72 dpi

Purl one stitch from the left hand needle.

cabled hat how to 4 72 dpi

Slide the slipped stitches to the other end of the cable needle. (Do not spin the cable needle or try to knit the stitches from the same end that you used to slip the stitches.) Now knit the 3 stitches from the cable stitch holder.

RC: Right Cross

Making the Right Cross is like making a Left Cross in reverse.

When you get to a Right Cross, you will have 1 purl stitch followed by 3 knit stitches on the left hand needle. You will…

Slip the purl stitch from the left hand needle onto a cable stitch holder; hold the cable stitch holder to the back of your work; knit the 3 stitches from the left hand needle; purl the stitch from the cable stitch holder.