When I first started to knit cables, I used those metal cable needles that looked like a shepherd’s crook. I hated it. Moving stitches around the crook was a PITA.
I moved on to the metal cable needles with a little hump in the middle, like an elongated omega (Ω). This wasn’t bad. You can knit directly off of the needle, but my stitches were always in danger of slipping off of the needle.
Then I found the wooden cable needles with the little grooves in them. I thought I was in hog heaven. Everything is staying put. I even progressed to using whatever random DPN I had laying around. I learned this trick from Eva. Don’t know why it never occurred to me until I saw Eva do it when she was making the DNA scarf for an auction.
I knew about cabling without a cable needle, but the thought of leaving live stitches hanging out there, flapping in the breeze, was enough to give this control freak a heart attack.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t attempted it. I just wasn’t comfortable with it. And it took just as long, if not longer, than it would for me to execute the cable with a cable needle.
This year at Madrona, I took 2 classes that worked on my fear of cabling without cable needles: Lucy Neatby’s Even Cooler Socks and Elsebeth Lavold’s Viking Knits and Mitered Corners in Cabling.
Lucy showed me why I was having so much difficulty with my earlier attempts at cabling without a cable needle — I was manipulating my stitches too much. All that movement allowed the stitches to be stretched and ladder. She showed me how to minimize the gymnastics and get the stitches mounted quickly and easily. Elsebeth’s class allowed me to practice the technique over and over again until I was comfortable with it. I, unknowingly, had the classes in the correct order. Lucky me.
This week, when I picked up the yarn leftover from these socks to make a wrist warmer, I thought I’d spice it up and add some cables to it and practice my cabling without cable needles. Of course, to fit the cables, the wrist warmers became fingerless mitts/gauntlets. The good news? The immediate and repeated practice at Madrona was enough to imprint the methodology into my brain. There was the barest hint of a hiccup before I was zipping along. Before I knew it, the mitt was done, and nary a cable needle in sight.
Now, I just need to remember what I did so I can make the left hand mitt.