There are a few things in life that people can’t seem to get enough of. If you’re a knitter, two of those things may be cables and traveling. Luckily, as a knitter you can combine both of those things in one – well, kinda. You’ve already done cables and know how much they can add to a garment so let’s take it up a notch and teach you about traveling cables. Traveling cables are simply cables that start off at one point in your work and then seem to magically snake their way across your background (usually reverse stocking stitch) and entwine themselves across your garment. Just like with regular cables, this may look magical and difficult at first but once you learn the secret, they’re a snap!
So how do we actually get a cable to shift position on the garment? Well, that’s done with what is referred to in knitting as a twist. A twist is just a cable that uses both purl and knit stitches and is denoted in the pattern by the letter T. A twist in the pattern would be written something like T3F or T4B. Just like with cable notation, the T stands for Twist, letting you know you’ll be working with purl and knit stitches, the 3 (or whichever number) tells you how many stitches you’ll be working with, and the F or B tells you that it will be a front or back (left or right) twist. If you see a B, you will be placing purl stitches on your cable needle and putting it to the back, which will travel your cable to the right. If you see an F, you will be putting knit stitches on your cable needle and holding them in front, which will travel your cable to the left. The knit stitches are always overlapped on top of the purl stitches since the purl stitches are your background.
By using a series of Twists and Cables you can create intricate braid patterns that are stunning. You can also travel your cables over your work and create serpentine patterns in your fabric. When creating traveling cables, you will usually have either a Cable or Twist on every right side row. When you have multiple knit stitches meeting up, you cable them. On other rows you will create a twist to bring the knit stitches together. Here is a diagram of a Saxon Braid: a very common traveling cable braid that demonstrates this technique. You can practice with the pattern below.
Here is the pattern for the above Saxon Braid.
T3B – slip next st onto cable needle and hold in back of work, k2 from left needle, p1 from cable needle.
T3F – slip next 2 sts onto cable needle and hold in front of work, p1 from left needle, K2 from cable needle.
T4B – slip next 2 sts onto cable needle and hold in back of work, k2 from left needle, p2 from cable needle.
T4F – slip next 2 sts onto cable needle and hold in front of work, p2 from left needle, k2 from cable needle.
C4B – slip next 2 sts onto cable needle and hold in back of work. k2 from needle, k2 from cable needle.
C4F – slip next 2 sts onto needle and hold in front of work, k2 from left needle, k2 from cable needle.
Panel of 24 sts on a background of Reverse Stockinette Stitch.
Additional materials: cable needle. *
Row 1: k2, p4, (k14 p4) twice, k2.
Row 2 (right side): p2, C4B, (p4, C4B) twice, p2.
Row 3: (and all alternate rows) knit stitches as they appear.
Row 4: p1, T3B, (T4F, T4B) twice, T3F, p1.
Row 6: T3B, p3, C4F, p4, C4B, p3, T3F.
Row 8: k2, p3, T3B, T4F, T4B, T3F, p3, k2.
Row 10: (k2, p3) twice, C4B, (p3, k2) twice.
Row 12: k2, p3, T3F, T4B, T4F, T3B, p3, k2.
Row 14: T3F, p3, C4F, p4, C4B, p3, T3B.
Row 16: p1, T3F, (T4B, T4F) twice, T3B, p1.
Rep Rows 1 – 16 for pattern.
Here is a link to a video that shows you how to knit cables without a cable needle.
The actual process isn’t as complicated as you may think. Let’s look at it with a C4B cable. Normally for this cable you would slip 2 stitches on a cable needle and hold at the back of the work, k2, then k2 from the cable needle. If you don’t have the cable needle, here is what you do:
Take your right hand needle and going from the front, slip the 3rd and fourth stitch onto the right hand needle. Slide all the stitches off the left hand needle, being careful not to allow the first two stitches to drop down on the rows below (or unravel). Using the left hand needle, pick up the 1st and 2nd stitch that are dangling. Now place the two stitches that are on the right hand needle on the left hand needle. You have already cabled the stitches and now simply have to knit them. Have fun practicing!
Yarn over and out!