How To Knit Cables Without A Cable Needle: Mastering The Technique

By Jodie Morgan

| Updated:

Knitting cables can be even more fun and efficient without a cable needle! Let me share my tips for cabling without one. It’s easier than you think and with practice you’ll be surprised as how much faster creating a cable becomes.

An Image Of A Closeup Of Cables Knitted With Blue Yarn

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Table Of Contents

What’s The Cable Without A Cable Needle Method?

The cable without a cable needle method is a way to knit cables without an extra tool. Traditionally, a cable needle is used to hold stitches in place while crossing them, but with this technique, you rearrange the stitches on your needles. It’s effective for small cables and works best with yarn that has grip, like wool.

Why Should You Learn Cabling Without A Cable Needle?

You should learn cabling without a cable needle because you’ll be amazed at how much faster and more efficient your knitting can be. Plus, you’ll have fewer tools to keep track of during your projects. So why not give it a go?

Here are a few benefits of cabling without a cable needle:

  • Efficiency: You’ll speed up your knitting and create more stunning designs.
  • Confidence: Mastering a new skill boosts your self-esteem.
  • Convenience: No more searching for that elusive cable needle in your bag.

Ready to learn? Let me show you how.

Pin For Later

Cables Without Cable Needle Pin

How To Cable Without A Cable Needle

Here’s my tutorial on how to knit cables with no cable needle. I show you 4 different types of cables. Hope you find it helpful! If you’re more of a reader, scroll down for my written instructions.

Note: I’d rate this as needing an advanced beginner skill level.

Materials & Tools

For the best results when knitting cables without a cable needle, I recommend using wool yarn, as it has a natural grip that helps prevent your stitches from slipping off the needles. Other yarns can work, but they may be more slippery.

You’ll need:

  • A ball of worsted weight wool yarn
  • Straight or circular knitting needles
  • A simple cable knitting pattern

Stitches & Abbreviations For This Pattern

Before diving into the process, it’s essential to understand the basic stitches and abbreviations used in cable knitting:

  • K: Knit
  • P: Purl
  • C4F: Cable 4 Front
  • C4B: Cable 4 Back
  • CR3B
  • CL3F

Practice Knitting The First Stitches

Approach your cable project with a steady tension. Begin by casting on the required number of stitches and working the first rows according to your pattern.

Making A C4F (Front/Left-Leaning) Cable

Here’s my simple guide to make a left-leaning cable (aka left-slanting cable or C4F) without a cable needle:

  1. Put the point of your right hand needle into the back of stitches (3 & 4) on the left hand needle on hold them on the right hand needle
  2. Drop stitches 1 & 2 off the left hand needle and place them back on the left hand needle
  3. Put the 2 stitches (3&4) held on the right hand needle, back on the left hand needle.
  4. Knit all 4 stitches on your left-hand needle with your right-hand needle.

Congratulations! You’ve completed a C4F, left-leaning cable.

Making A C4B (Back/Right-Leaning) Cable

Here’s how I do a right-leaning cable (aka right-slanting cable or C4B):

  1. Insert your right hand needle point into the fronts of the two knit stitches (stitches 3 and 4) on your left needle.
  2. Carefully drop stitches 1 & 2 off the left hand needle.
  3. Bring your right hand needle with the 2 stitches forward, and pick up the 2 stitches that have been dropped back on to the left hand needle.
  4. Place the 2 stitches on the right hand needle on the left hand needle.
  5. Knit all 4 stitches from your left hand needle.

Voilà! You’ve mastered the C4B, right-leaning cable.

Making A CR3B Cable

Here’s how to do a right leaning cable with 2 knit stitches crossing over a purl stitch:

  1. Insert the right hand needle point into the fronts of the 2 knit stitches.
  2. Bring down the held knit stitches thereby dropping off the purl stitch
  3. Pick up the dropped purl stitch back on the left hand needle
  4. Then place the 2 knit stitches back on to the left hand needle
  5. Knit the 2 knit stitches and purl one stitch

Now you have 2 knit stitches crossed over the purl stitch that lean to the right.

Making a CL3F Cable

Here’s how to do a Left leaning cable with 2 knit stitches crossing over a purl stitch:

  1. Insert the point of the right hand needle into the back of the purl stitch and hold on the right hand needle.
  2. Bring the held stitch down to the tip of the left hand needle.
  3. Let the 2 knit stitches drop off the left hand needle and pick them back up with the left hand needle.
  4. Then the purl stitch you’ve held on the right hand needle is placed back on the left hand needle.
  5. Purl the purl stitch and knit the 2 knit stitches

You’ve completed 2 knit stitches crossed over the purl stitch which lean to the left.

Finishing Your Cables

When you’ve completed the required cable rows, don’t forget to bind off.

As you continue to explore cable knitting, I recommend checking out the following tutorials by Lion Brand and Brooklyn Tweed.

For those just starting out, a cable scarf is a perfect project to practice your new skills. Choose a simple cable pattern and work on mastering C4F and C4B, CR3B and CL3F techniques without a cable needle. As you gain confidence, you can experiment with more complex cable designs.

Troubleshooting

  • Stitches slipping off the needle: If you’re struggling with stitches slipping off the needle, ensure you’re using yarn with a good grip (like wool). You can also try wooden or bamboo needles, which tend to grip yarn better than metal.
  • Uneven tension: To avoid uneven tension, practice maintaining consistent tension while knitting. Be mindful of how tightly you’re holding the yarn.
  • Cables not crossing correctly: Double-check your cable rows and make sure you’re following the instructions for each technique. If you find a mistake, carefully correct the cable crossing.

Instructions For Other Cabling Techniques

How To Do A 2 Stitch Cable Without A Cable Needle

I’ve found a great method for knitting a 2-stitch cable without a cable needle.

  1. Slide the right needle tip purlwise into the back of the second stitch on the left needle, keeping the first stitch secure with your finger.
  2. Carefully slip both stitches off the left needle and use this same needle to catch the first stitch.
  3. Transfer both stitches back to the left needle and knit as usual.

How To Cable 2 Back Without A Cable Needle

Cabling 2 back is another fun technique that’s possible without a cable needle.

  1. Slip a single stitch onto the right needle while holding the next stitch with your finger.
  2. Next, knit the second stitch on the left needle. A
  3. s you might have guessed, slip the first stitch from the right needle back onto the left needle and knit as normal.

There you have it, your cable 2 back is complete!

How To 1/2LC Without A Cable Needle

Finally, let’s explore working a 1/2LC without a cable needle.

  1. Knit into the second stitch on the left needle through its back loop.
  2. Without dropping any stitches, knit into the first stitch on the left needle through its front loop.
  3. Carefully slide both stitches off the left needle, securing your twist.

FAQs About How To Cable Knit Without A Cable Needle

Tips For Working Cable Turns With No Cable Needle

Here are some tips I find helpful when cabling without cable needles:

  • Practice: If you’re new to this technique, start with a small project. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll become with rearranging stitches.
  • Focus on tension: Maintaining even tension between stitches is essential, as it prevents those loose stitches from slipping off the needles.
  • Take it slow: Don’t rush through the process, especially when rearranging stitches. Be patient, and you’ll make fewer mistakes.
  • Check your work: One easy trick is to double-check each cable row to ensure the stitches are crossed correctly.

Is Cable Knitting Without A Needle Hard?

When I first tried cable knitting without a needle, I admit it felt intimidating. However, I discovered that it’s a matter of patience. The real challenge lies in rearranging stitches. But, soon, you’ll see how it streamlines the process.

Conclusion

Remember, something that’s difficult becomes easier with practice. So give cable knitting without a needle a try. You might wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!

I’d love to hear how you get on with giving these techniques for cables a try. Please get in touch on socials or leave a comment below.

About The Author

Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

Jodie Morgan (Author & Founder)

jodie@knitlikegranny.com | Lives In: Regional Australia

Author: Jodie Morgan is a passionate knitter and blogger with 40+ years of experience currently living in regional Australia. Taught by her mother and wonderful grandmother “Mama”, she fell in love with crafting from a young age. When she’s not knitting, you’ll find her enjoying a cup of coffee with cream, or sharing helpful resources and tips with the online knitting community. Get to know Jodie and the team on our meet the team page.

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Frustrated Teacher Quits In Disgust, Sells The Farm, Moves The Family Halfway Across The World And… Starts Knitting

See what I did next...

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