I am all about cheats, tips, and tricks. Why work harder when you can work smarter? Your knitting should be no exception, especially when tackling cables. Here are some of my favorite tips for mastering cables and working your way towards gorgeous (and impressive) cabled fabrics.
Charts are your friend, so embrace them when working with cables. Read from right to left (in the direction that you knit), cable charts at first glance can look like a mess of dashes, dots and loops. Be sure to keep your cable chart key handy—most patterns provide their own—and use highlighter tape, a magnetic guide strip, or a post-it flag to keep track of which row you’ve completed. I often make tally marks in the margins of cable charts to track repeats of each row. Don’t be afraid to blow up a chart larger if you’re having trouble following it. Simply increase the scale in the dialog box on your printer’s pop-up window to a larger one you’re comfortable with, and re-print that page.
While lifelines are often considered a lace knitting trick, they can come in handy for cable knitting too. I keep a bobbin of smooth cotton thread or baker’s twine in my knitting tool kit at all times so that I can be ready to thread in a lifeline at a moment’s notice! If your cable chart has a motif that you repeat every so many rows, this is a great way to keep track of your repeats, too.
Last but not least, the biggest tip I could possibly give you is perhaps the simplest: take your time. Cable projects aren’t meant to be speedy—don’t be afraid to work on them a little bit for a long while. Don’t expect them to be your late-night television knitting or the project you take with you on the bus (especially if they’re complex). Knit cables for the sake of cables, and be sure to enjoy every stitch!