Cables are my first knitting love. As an aspiring knitter I dreamed of creating cabled hats and scarves. One of my first knitting projects was a cabled baby blanket made for an expectant friend, and it was one of the first things I made that led to me being a confident knitter. Cables do more than look pretty: they create a denser and thicker fabric that makes for a fabric that insulates better and this is why cable knitting comes out of wet, chilly climates. More than anything, I like the rhythm of knitting cables. When I felt really crummy a couple weeks ago I found myself in need of some feel-good knitting. I turned to a heavily cabled diversion project and knit up a Skiff hat using Brooklyn Tweed’s Arbor (my favorite yarn to knit with). This little project got my brain hopping and brought me out of my funk.
Over the years and over several cabled projects, I’ve learned a lot. First there’s the fact that some yarns make for easier cabling than others. If you’re new to cables, I recommend looking for yarn with some twist. Not sure how to find that yourself? Look at your yarn! If you see lots of little diagonal lines running across your length of yarn, it has twist. Worsted-spun yarns with oodles of twist give the yarn more elasticity, and that means it’s easier to twist around in your cables.
When choosing cabled projects, if I choose a project with more than one cable stitch pattern, I color code it. My Skiff project had about seven different cable stitches. Looking at a cable chart like that made my eyes cross. My solution is to take out my kids’ colored pencils and match every cable stitch in the key to its place in the cable chart. For whatever reason, seeing the stitches color-coded like this also makes it easier for me to read the direction of the cable, so if I make a misstep, I identify that mistake more quickly.
Since I love on cables in this blog annually, I want to talk about some different cable projects for you, and why I think they have merit.
Childhood Wishes by Fifty-Four Ten Studios is a versatile cabled blanket. I always like cabled blankets, especially for newbie cable-knitters. Most cabled blanket projects involve the repetition of a cable stitch, which means you get a lot of practice at that cable. The more you practice the better you get it!
Childhood Wishes is knit up in a bulky yarn with a traditional and straight-forward cable stitch. It’s written for various sizes, which boosts this pattern’s versatility. Knitting up this pattern in a user-friendly yarn like Cascade 128 means it can go in the washing machine when it is covered with spilled food (kid’s blanket) or filled with dog hair (family blanket). Fifty-Four Ten Studios has lots of lovely blanket patterns, so check out her collection of patterns if you like this aesthetic!
Varm is another great blanket pattern. It’s written for a super-bulky yarn and each column of cables is surrounded by a backdrop of garter stitch. There are no borders on this blanket, and that seems to give it a modern look. I see this blanket knit up in Mirasol’s Ushya more than anything other. I love this super-bulky yarn for blankets. It’s chainette construction gives it elasticity and give as if it had twist, and it’s lighter than its super-bulky brethren.
A cabled hat project is always a fun diversion. If you’re new to cables, check out Justina Chong’s Big Fat Cable Hat pattern. For one, it’s free. Second, one cable stitch is repeated throughout the hat. It’s knit up in a worsted-weight yarn, so you have tons of choices of great yarn for cabling. I’m going to stick with my “lotsa twist yarns” for recommendations here, as I think this is a great project for newbie cable-knitters. Try knitting up this hat in something like Shepherd’s Wool, Sueño Worsted, HiKoo’s Kenzie, Tosh Vintage, and Falkland Aran to name a handful!
A more intricately cabled hat pattern is the one I mentioned above: Skiff by Jared Flood. I’ve had my eye on this pattern for years but thought it looked fussy. When I read knitters’ review of the project, they talked about how “quick” and “addictive” this project was, so I felt I should give it a try. Although it’s covered in a myriad of cable stitches, it was all of those things. It’s much less tricky than it looks. It also employs a 2×2 tubular cast-on for the hat. You can choose to skip that step, but I have to say, I felt pretty awesome learning that new technique! Skiff is written for Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter, but I opted to make mine in Arbor. This made for lots of bouncy cabling and it was pure knitting joy. Other great options include Kokon’s Merino DK, HiKoo’s Kenzie, Shepherd’s Wool, and Sueño Worsted. Given the intricacies of the stitch pattern, I recommend using a solid yarn for this one.
Regina Moessmer’s Slope is a beautiful cabled scarf. Soft, flat cables give this scarf a modern edge. One cable stitch is repeated at varying intervals to give it this look. Slope calls for a bulky yarn, and you can try yarns like Blue Sky’s Extra, Juniper Moon’s Fourteen and Cascade 128 to name a few.
Andrea Mowry’s Hildie is a more intricately cabled wrap. That said, its cables are regular and repetitive, so this is a fantastic project for someone who wants to master cables with more confidence. Hildie is one of Mowry’s older patterns, and calls for Stonehedge Fiber Mill’s Shepherd’s Wool – a wonderful nod to her Michigan roots. If you want to consider another yarn, I suggest Kenzie or Arbor to name a few. Hildie is part of a bigger collection of patterns from Mowry called “The Staghorn Collective.” If you like this aesthetic, you should check out the other patterns in this collection.
My next cable project is going to be Akane by Eri. I’ve had my eye on this project for a while. My cable craving came rock solid when I saw this cabled sweater by Sablyn that looks a lot like Akane. I like this sweater for any number of knitters because it employs a simple cable stitch that is repeated throughout a simple, boxy shape. Knitters aren’t going to juggle too much technique while making up this sweater. Akane is written for a sport-weight yarn knit at a somewhat loose gauge. Knitters have knit it up using a variety of yarns ranging from fingering to DK. I’m thinking I’m going to knit this up using Peerie and Silk Cloud held together, or I’m going to knit it up using Blue Sky’s Eco Cashmere. Either way, it’s going to be totally indulgent.
Another lovely cabled sweater is Eri by Isabell Kraemer. Having worked this pattern with one of our knitters, I can attest to the fact that it is absolutely lovely. Kraemer’s patterns always enlist a flawless construction that require a bit of attention at the beginning. I like this pattern because it exposes knitters to this clever construction and they dabble in cables. A traditional cable adorns the front of the sweater, so the project isn’t overwhelmed by cables. Our knitter who made Eri knit hers up in Brooklyn Tweed’s Arbor, and the finished product was perfection. It’s hard to look past Arbor in yarn choice here, since it’s such a delightful yarn for cables. If you want to be even more fancy, check out Blue Sky’s Eco Cashmere. That would be just-plain-yummy.
If you love cables, I highly recommend you check out Thea Colman’s collection of patterns. She brings some fabulous cabled projects to the knitting world. For my favorite yarns for cabling, here they are according to weight:
Sport: HiKoo Sueño, Sublime Baby Silk Cashmerino
Chunky: Blue Sky Extra
Bulky: Cascade 128