My Love Affair with Cables


Cables look overwhelmingly complicated to the beginning knitter; they are not. New knitters want to knit cables, but avoid them because they look so  difficult. How can someone who has just recently mastered knit and purl stitches possibly create a fabric that looks so beautiful?

That’s how I felt when I began to learn to knit. (Learning – the never-ending, mostly satisfying, sometimes frustrating process.) Cables were what I wanted to knit. Nothing else mattered – likely due to my Irish and Scottish heritage.

At my local yarn store, the revelation was patiently delivered. Just pull a few stitches to the front of the fabric, put them on a little needle, and knit them out of order. Repeat. Behold – the stitches cross and there is a beautiful, complicated-looking cable. Like most knit techniques, things do not stay  simple for long. Immersing myself in Aran sweaters and the glorious patterns from Alice Starmore proved that.

Knitters develop biases and I was becoming increasing averse to knitted fabric that didn’t look terrific on both sides. The wrong sides of cabled blankets and afghans were looking really bad to me. And who wants to struggle to keep the right side up?

These are  photos of the front cable of Glenna Knits Rendezvous cardigan. The right side, the exterior, is perfect. The wrong side, the interior, is just a mess. If this were a blanket instead of a sweater, I’d be unhappy.

Next up for me were reversible cables. Lily Chin was the reigning queen, so off I went to a class. Behold, another revelation – this one called “ribbles”.

Ribs plus cables = ribbles

Lily Chin’s thinking went like this –  ribbing is reversible, ribbing looks smooth on both sides, just like I want cables to look. What if I cross rib stitches just like I cross cable stitches? Voila. Problem solved.

Lily Chin, of course, went into the concept far more deeply than this simple explanation would indicate. The ideas that stayed with me were two circles of cables, one running round and round, the other running up and down. Two reversible cable cowl patterns were the result when I got the ideas on to paper, the Petticoat Creek Cowl, pictured at the top of this post, and the Park Crescent Cowl, pictured right here. Click the links to see the details and try the reversible cable revelation.

Park Crescent Cowl reversible knit


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