Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Necessity being the mother of invention, and all that.

Last weekend I found myself on a three-hour flight to SC armed with a knitting project utilizing cables, cables, and some more cables ('twists' really, but same concept) but no extra needle for cabling. 'Why,' you might be saying, 'don't you just cable without a needle?' I've been down that road. I've been referred to the tutorials and expected some big revelation about craftily switching stitches around--then learned that the big secret is 'just try to hold on to the loose stitches'. Apparently this works for some people, but they must be pretty loose knitters (you hussies). I didn't find this technique any faster seeing as how half the time I was picking up dropped stitches and inventing new combinations of obscenities. Pretty much any time live stitches are parted from the needle, my heart rate doubles.

So it was time for a little improvisation. Pen? Too thick. SkyMall magazine? Entertaining, but no (do people actually buy that stuff?). The only thing I had that was remotely stiff and pointy was a key ring. Since it seemed like such a terrible idea, naturally I tried it out. And it was actually pretty sweet--faster than a conventional cable needle and much more convenient for travel. I wanted to share in case there were other tight knitters out there looking for cable needle alternatives.

Therefore, I present to you:

Something in between cabling with a needle and cabling without a needle (working title)

Key ring inexplicably attached to my Wisconsin Public Radio water bottle. Carrying that bottle automatically ups my hipster cred approximately 5000 points.

Easily bent to allow access to one of the ends.

Slip the stitches to be cabled onto the ring.

Let the ring dangle in front or in back of the work, depending on what type of cable you're doing.

Slip the stitches back onto the needle (I tried not to knit too tightly, but if you do, at this step you can give the ring a gentle pull to get some more slack in the stitches).

The ring rests conveniently on your thumb as you go your merry way. This was the part that majorly sped everything up.

I think I'm going to call the ring my 'cable key'. I won't be traveling without it.


  1. Good idea! I can ever get those rings open, though :(

  2. Ah, so clever! Since it fits on your thumb, that leaves out so much of the cable needle fumbling. Sometimes I really wish my brain worked like yours.

  3. That is genius - patent it quick, you could make a fortune.

  4. Brilliant! Need I say more?

  5. Super clever! I cable without a needle as I always manage to snag my knitting with cable needles. this could be so much better! Off to find a keyring to butcher.

  6. Brilliant! It's amazing what we will come up with when we need to.

  7. Veru innovative :-) Live stitches off the needle is a way of checking you're still alive - no increased heartbeat and you know you're either a zombie or a vampire .... ;-)

  8. are a genius for sure...please can I stand next to you at parties :) ...just brilliant!

  9. oh wowww :D im a beginner in knitting and just saw few tutorials on Youtube and was sad that i dint have a cable needle :( and HOla ur idea seems to be helpful :) i hope works for mee thaaankss

  10. Any thoughts on how to avoid dreaded LADDERS in the purl stitches tht follow the cable?

    1. This is coming a little late, but I hope it's still helpful... I've found a technique that should solve your problem. It also works well for ribbing - I learned it when my last knit stitch before purling was always loose. I think it uses less yarn to make the stitch in the first place, so it tightens up when you twist it back to normal.

      You start it off by wrapping the wrong way (clockwise) on that one stitch to twist it, then for every row after you work the twisted stitch through the back loop (knit or purl) AND wrap clockwise to twist the new stitch. It may take a little more attention but it's pretty easy to get into a rhythm. (: To end it off, just k/pbl normally to untwist and continue as normal. I hope it works for you!