Sunday Stitch – Making Cables Without a Cable Needle


If you’ve ever seen a knitter work cables without a cable needle it probably looked like a magic trick. Magicians are never supposed to reveal their secrets… but I always do. I can’t help myself.

knit cables make without a cable needle

These cables look like regular 2×2 cables, and that’s just what they are. Except I made them without a cable needle and I demonstrate how in the video below.

But I want to confess something first. I almost always use a cable needle myself. When I’m making a cabled knit, and I usually want the cables to be very prominent and defined and so I use the cable needle. I need to! Usually I’m working my cables very tight and with lots of tension to make them pop out.

Personally, I only cable without a needle under the following conditions:

  1. I took my knitting on-the-go and left my cable needle at home. That happens quite frequently!
  2. Bad little cats stole with my cable needle and now its under the refrigerator. (That really shouldn’t be a problem because I should have 3 other cable needles but I can never seem to find them until after I’ve gone out and bought more.)
  3. I’m making cables that aren’t supposed to be tight at all but soft and smooshy (like slouchy hats or puffy blankets or sometimes shawls). These can be made the traditional way with cable needles of course. But you don’t have to. Those projects are perfect for the magic trick of cabling without a cable needle.

Here is how!

Give it a try the next time your cable needle is at home (or under your fridge). Some knitters really take to this method and use it all the time. Cabling is much faster when you don’t have to fiddle with that extra cable needle.

P.S. Here is The Bad One trying to find, and steal, my cable needle. Ha! There isn’t one!

cats always photobomb knitting

P.S.S. The general wisdom is that a designer should never show a design before its published because people will steal it. I don’t think that’s true but if it is I’m willing to risk it. Here are two designs I’m working on that have soft, squishy cables (which I’m working without a cable needle). The blue hat is done and I should have it ready to share soon. The multicolor shawl is far from done and I need to get off my butt and make some progress on that. What do you think? Feedback is love!

two knit projects with cables that I work without a cable needle

If you liked this video tutorial, you  might also like Making Right-twists and Left-twists, aka mock cables.

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"There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen

4 Comments on "Sunday Stitch – Making Cables Without a Cable Needle"

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What a clever trick! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve only done one project with cables and this is what I need to make me try again.


Well if it gets you trying cables again then its a darn good thing!


Thanks a lot! I really like this idea! I have shied away from cables but now I want to try this…thanks again very helpful!!!


You are very welcome! I hope you give it a try soon and I hope it has you merrily making cables.