I have always loved cables.
In 5th grade, my favourite outfit consisted of my mother’s oversized magenta sweater – with its bold and vertical rows of cables – worn with my kid-sized, red Lee jeans (the jeans had a button fly rather than a zipper fly. I hope you’ll understand. It was the 90s). The combo of the oversized pink acrylic sweater, red jeans, and my lanky frame, I’m sure, made me look like an unfortunate Valentine’s Day mascot, but I couldn’t resist the sweater’s twirling texture.
Later on, as I began knitting, I saw cables as an unattainable and esoteric form of knitting know-how. When, a few years ago, a friend at school told me she hand-knit the cream-coloured cable hat that she was wearing that day, I couldn’t help but think she was knitting royalty – a member of the select few who could create such beautiful handmade helices.
Fast forward 6 odd years, and I’m sorry I didn’t try cables sooner. Basic cables, though fiddly at first, are approachable and forgiving. Working them feels like a slow process of revelation. One must set up the cable row – this takes time and, at this point, the cables themselves are not yet discernible. One is, in a sense, sowing seeds, knitting on hope. As I continue to work in stockinette past this initial row, the twist and texture come to life in slow, almost botanical bloom. The process was a very big wow for me, as a first time cable-knitter.
Last week, I gathered some cable-knitting courage, my royal blue skeins of Estelle Chunky purchased at Yarns Untangled, and took to Ravelry where I found a Bernat pattern for a cable hat (#4481).
The hat requires 2 basic cable techniques: Cable 8 Front (C8F) and Cable 8 Back (C8B). In both of these, one is holding 4 stitches in either the front or in the back of the work (on a cable- or spare needle), working 4 stitches on the row, and then going back to work those 4 held stitches. I don’t own a cable needle, so I used a spare straight one. Here’s the ‘starting position’ for C8B (with my memory as it is, my future self will need the reminder):
C8B is an 8-stitch maneuver. I start by placing 4 stitches on a spare/cable needle (point facing my right), leaving these stitches at the back of the work (I like to think that the 4 stitches are sitting in a waiting room).
I work the next 4 stitches as usual (stitches 1-4 above). I then go back to the spare needle, using it to knit the 4 stitches at the back of the work (stitches 5-8). This is the fiddly part, friends. As in all good things, there’s a struggle. The knitting seems to resist my attempts to work those last 4 stitches. Also, the resulting cable row is ultra-tight on the needle. I have a feeling I may be knitting with too much tension.
After continuing on my way for a bit, I like what’s developing, even though I’m not exactly sure what’s happening. I stick doggedly to the pattern:
I eventually finish the hat, and enjoy having introduced this new technique into my little knitting repertoire. The Bernat hat is for the daughter of my dear friend and all-time Toronto bestie ♥. The floral embellishment (below) was taken from the magical jar of buttons ‘n things that I inherited from my sewing grandma (I still remember her at her Singer machine, listening to the greatest hits of Julio Iglesias on tape).
I enjoyed making this hat so much that I make another one, the Patons Shetland Chunky striped cabled hat (minus the stripes). This second one’s for my mom, in homage to that magenta cable sweater of hers, long given-away, that I loved to wear.
Hats below. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂