Cabling confidently – Fixing mistakes in cables

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Mahonia by Marie Wallin/Rowan

In this How To feature, Belinda Boaden shows us how to fix mistakes in cables and avoid baggy stitches.

In the previous How To feature in our Cabling Confidently masterclass series we covered reading twisted cable charts, and how these charts can help you avoid making mistakes before you’ve gone so far that they involve much unravelling and despair.

Despair need not be a factor in cables, however, even if you do discover a mistake several rows or even patterns back.

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Cabling confidently – How to read cable charts1Take for example this cable chart, which was published in The Knitter issue 17 for Rowan’s Mahonia pattern...

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Cabling confidently – Fixing mistakes in cables8In this example swatch, the first cable on row 7 has been worked as a C4B instead of a C4F, but it’s not been noticed until row 13.

In a garment this could mean unravelling more than a thousand stitches, but there is an alternative. It helps here if you have a spare cable needle as well as the one you’re using, and an old machine knitting needle or latch-hook needle is very, very useful, although a crochet hook can be used.

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Cabling confidently – Fixing mistakes in cables9 Work your next row (row 13) until you reach the cable stitches, then drop the next four stitches of the cable off the LH needle and unravel them down to the offending cable..

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Cabling confidently – Fixing mistakes in cables10Now put the first two stitches onto one cable needle and the second two stitches onto another, re-position the cable needles so that the cable is twisted the correct way, and slip them all onto one cable needle..

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Cabling confidently – Fixing mistakes in cables12Now you need to ‘re-knit’ them using the bar of yarn unravelled from the row above, so with the (now spare again cable needle), knit these four stitches. This is a little bit fiddly, but do-able..

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Cabling confidently – Fixing mistakes in cables14Now you can use your latch-hook needle or crochet hook to work the plain rows up  to where you need to re-cable the cable on row 11, so work the first stitch on your cable needle up rows, hold it on your spare cable needle.

Repeat for the remaining three stitches..

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Cabling confidently – Fixing mistakes in cables17 Once again, split the stitches onto your two cable needles, position them so that the cable is twisting the correct way, slip them all onto one cable needle and re-knit that row. You are left with one ‘bar’ of yarn from the first row you unravelled, row 12, to knit these four stitches with and then you can carry on with row 13 as if nothing untoward had happened.

Your reworked cable might look a little wobbly, but it is easy to even the stitches out by teasing them with a needle. If they still look uneven after that, by the time the garment is blocked, steamed and being worn it is highly unlikely to be noticeable.

Avoiding baggy stitches

Another problem some people have with cables is that the last stitch of the cable is often slightly looser than the first stitch of the reverse stocking stitch background, and looks a little baggy. This does not seem to happen to everybody, and again in some cases is remedied when the stitches even themselves out with the first wash or when they’re wet blocked.

Another solution is to knit until you are ready to cast off your knitting, work to the purl stitch after the offending stitch and drop it down to a few rows above the beginning of your cable (best not to go right to the very bottom unless you are very brave). Turn your work over so that the WS is facing you and the purl stitch you just dropped now has its knit side facing you  (it’s easier to pick up knit stitches than purl stitches), take your latch hook or crochet hook and re-knit up all the rows, giving each stitch a bit of a tug to take up some of the slack from that baggy knit stitch.

Or, for slightly less effort just try to knit that last stitch of your cable a bit tighter on each row, just give your yarn a bit of a tug as you bring it to the front of the work to work the next purl stitch.

Other How To features in this knitting masterclass series cover reading cable charts and twisted cable charts.

Knitwear designer Belinda BoadenAbout our expert

Belinda Boaden is a designer and technical expert who works with many famous designers to turn their ideas into completed knitting patterns.

Have you tried this technique? Let us know by posting a comment below or emailing us at TheKnitter@futurenet.com