Cable knitting

Cable knitting

Cable knitting is a style of knitting in which the order of stitches is permuted.

For example, let there be four stitches on the needle in the order ABCD. The first two may be crossed in front of the next two, forming the order CDAB.


The stitches crossing behind are transferred to a small cable needle for storage while the stitches passing in front are knitted. The former stitches are then transferred back to the original needle or knitted from the cable needle itself. Other knitters prefer to transfer the stitches to a large safety pin or, for a single stitch, simply hold it in their fingers while knitting the other stitch(es). Cable stitches are generally permuted only on the right side, i.e., every other row. Having a "spacer row" helps the fabric to "relax".

Cable knitting is usually less flexible and more dense than typical knitting, having a much more narrow gauge. This narrow gauge should be considered when changing from the cable stitch to another type of knitted fabric. If the number of stitches is not reduced, the second knitted fabric may flare out or pucker, due to its larger gauge. Thus, ribbed cuffs on an aran sweater may not contract around the wrist or waist, as would normally be expected. Conversely, stitches may need to be added to maintain the gauge when changing from another knitted fabric such as stocking to a cable pattern.

Cables are usually done in stocking stitch, with a reverse stocking background, but any combination will do; for example, a background seed stitch in the regions bounded by cables often looks striking. Another visually intriguing effect is meta-cabling, where the cable itself is made up of cables, such as a three-cable plait made of strands that are themselves 2-cable plaits. In such cases, the "inner" cables sometimes go their separate ways, forming beautiful, complex patterns such as the branches of a tree. Another interesting effect is to have one cable "pierce" another cable, rather than having it pass over or under the other.

Two cables should cross each other completely in a single row; for example, two cables three stitches wide should cross with the three stitches of one cable passing over the three of the other cable. It is very difficult to make an intermediate crossing row of fewer stitches look good.

Cable braids

Cables are often used to make braid patterns. Usually, the cables themselves are with a knit stitch while the background is done in purl. As the number of cables increases, the number of crossing patterns increases, as described by the
braid group. Various visual effects are also possible by shifting the center lines of the undulating cables, or by changing the space between the cables, making them denser or more open.

A one-cable serpentine is simply a cable that moves sinusoidally left andright as it progresses. Higher-order braids are often made with such serpentines crossing over and under each other.

A two-cable braid can look like a rope, if the cables always cross in thesame way (e.g., left over right). Alternatively, it can look like two serpentines, one on top of the other.

A three-cable braid is usually a simple plait (as often seen in girls' hair),but can also be made to look like the links in a chain, or as three independentserpentines.

A four-cable braid allows for several crossing patterns.

The five-cable braid is sometimes called the Celtic princess braid, and is visually interesting because one side is cresting while the other side isin a trough. Thus, it has a shimmering quality, similar to a kris dagger.

The six-cable braid is called a Saxon braid, and looks square and solid. This is a large motif, often used as a centerpiece of an aran sweater or along the neckline and hemlines.

The seven-cable braid is rarely used, possibly because it is very wide.

It may be helpful to think of a cable pattern as a set of serpentine or wave-like cables, each one meandering around its own center line. A vast variety of cable patterns can be invented by changing the number of cables, the separations of their center lines, the amplitudes of their waves (i.e., how far they wander from their center line), the shape of the waves (e.g., sinusoidal versus triangular), and the relative position of the crests and troughs of each wave (e.g., is one wave cresting as another is crossing its center line?).

New cable patterns can also be inspired by pictures, scenes from nature, Celtic knotwork, and even the double helix of DNA.

Cable lattices

In some cases, one can form a lattice of cables, a kind of ribbing made of cables where the individual cable strands can be exchanged freely.A typical example is a set of parallel 2-cable plaits in which, every sooften, the two cables of each plait separate, going left and right and integrating themselves in the neighboring cables. In the process, the right-going cable of one plait crosses the left-going cable of its neighbor, forming an "X".

Cable textures

Many patterns made with cables do not have a rope-like quality. For example, a deep honeycomb pattern can be made by adjacent serpentines, first touching the neighbor on the left then the neighboron the right. Other common patterns include a "Y"-like shape (andits inverse) and a horseshoe crab pattern.

Aran sweaters

The height of cable knitting is considered to be the Aran sweater, whichconsists of panels of different cable patterns.

ee also

* Knitting


* (2002) "Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book", updated ed., Sixth and Spring Books. ISBN-X

* (1979) "Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework", Reader's Digest Association. ISBN

* June Hemmons Hiatt (1988) "The Principles of Knitting", Simon and Schuster, pp. 41-51. ISBN

* Leapman, Melissa (2006) "Cables Untangled: An Exploration of Cable Knitting" , PotterCraft. ISBN

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