Look Ma, No Needle!

Cables are the big scam of the knitting world. They're great for fooling the non-knitters in your life. Give a non-knitter a cabled handknit and they'll think that you labored endlessly to achieve that look. We knitters know the truth: cables are nothing more than a few twisted stitches every couple of rows. They're very easy, and lots of fun.


The same goes for cabling without a cable needle. It's so easy to do! I figured this out in about 15 minutes on my couch. What's with all the step-by-step video tutorials out there? I admit that I clung fiercely to my cable needle because I wasn't sure that it would be a good idea to have live stitches dangling in space while I was riding the train. I shouldn't have worried.

You just need to get the pairs twisted and rearranged on your left needle before you knit them. Yes, there are live stitches hanging, but for only a few seconds.

So, to do a C2B (cable 2 back) just insert your right needle into the front of the cable's second pair of stitches (as if to do a P2Tog). Next, slip all four cable stitches off of your left needle, while keeping that second pair on your right. You now have two live stitches (the first cable pair) off of the needles. Scary! But, quickly slip that first pair onto your left needle. You now have the first cable pair on your left needle, and the second cable pair on your right. Transfer the second pair from your right needle to your left. All four cable stitches are now on the left needle, with both pairs properly positioned for a C2B. Knit those four stitches.

That's it--I think. If I'm missing a far easier technique, please let me know.

With two repeats of the scarf done, I know that this cable pattern works as I want it to. Barring some kind of computer or server disaster, I will post the pattern text tomorrow.


Ahhh....I love cabling without a cable needle too. I found that the cable needle and all its hijinks to roll under the couch was a major impediment to many projects. Now? There are none! :)

The drawback of no cable needle is when your yarn isn't sticky enough (i.e. not wool) the stitches will ladder back, no matter how quick you do the slippin.'

Ask me how I know this.

So easy!! Thanks for the little tutorial!

That is one of the greatest tricks of knitting.

I just taught myself to do that using Grumperina's little tutorial at Ariel's suggestion...very cool. I don't think I'll be using cable needles again!

i love cabling without a cable needle! it's so enjoyable.

Neat idea, I'll have to remember this in the future - and a thought, if you're afraid of your hanging stitches getting lost or you are using a very slippery yarn, try putting the stitches on a safetypin for a moment while you're moving things around ... I know - it's another 'thing' ... but it isn't a cable needle, and it IS thin enough to protect your hanging stitches, and not get in the way of the needle when you're ready to put them back on in the right order, ;) ... Have fun knitting!!

Shhhh, you're not supposed to let that secret out! DELETE THIS POST IMMEDIATELY! Oh, who knows what trouble is going to happen now...
Your cables are very nice. They must have taken a LOT of work.

Cabling without a cable needle is the only way to go! Although they're not bad to have around if you're cabling with slippery yarn . . . every now and again, a stitch can get away from you! Unless, of course, you're smart and don't USE slippery yarn . . .

Great trick. I will use it. I was curious why you chose to alternate cabling directions on each cable going up instead of alternating direction on each individual cable??

Your pattern, your choice, but just curious.

I'm not brave enough for this, as I'm only on my first cabling project ever. BUT! I really hate cable needles, so I just use a dpn and knit right off the end of it, instead of slipping the stitches back on to the left needle. Maybe next time I'll try your way.

I LOVE cabling w/out a cn!
And I'm also curious about you design choice--really like the cable choice--do the front and back look exactly the same?

I like your cable pattern very much. It has depth and visual interest.

Love those cables!

I have tried cabling without a needle before, but I usually end up cabling from whatever I have nearby (a pencil once, a pen, a random dpn, a safety pin, whatever) not because I worry about stitches laddering but because it somehow is less fiddly to me to use another something to put the stitches on. I'm going to try it again without a needle/pencil/etc though :)

Your cables are going commando...

Cute little red knitting bit though.

you inpsired me to try cabling without a needle the next time around. i'm such a wussy about the thought of having live stitches off my needles, even if it is for a few seconds.

My Mom was amazed that there was a needle specifically for cabling.. her Mom tried to teach her to do it without one, and sadly enough that's why she tells me she stopped knitting because she never could get the knack of cabling with live stitches dangling.

Thanks for the tip. I am going to try cabling pretty soon here and the thought of all that picking up and putting back down of the cable needle was making me crazy.

i'm not a big fan of knitting without the cable knitting. especially if the cable is bigger than 4 stitches. but i definitely have a preference ... if you use a cable needle, use the U shaped one, not the straight one with the divit. god it makes such a difference.

Dangling live stitches? On purpose? I'm getting faint just thinking about it. Gotta go sit down with my head between my knees for a minute ..... The scarf looks wonderful.


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