Special thanks to Mark Rougeux
Cabling needles come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They can make working with cables a joy or a curse, depending on how adept you are at handling them.
The needles are remarkably simple in their design. They are designed to temporarily hold a few stitches out of the way, while you work with other stitches. I have tried several of the popular ones above, but have decided to use a straight double-pointed (DPN) bamboo needle instead.
I knit most things with nickel-plated needles, especially socks. I find that the stitches slide much easier and keep my yarn tension more consistent. I prefer the bamboo DPN to act as a cabling needle for just the opposite reason. Metal and some of the very hard plastic needles allow the stitches to slide off very easily. I tend to drop many stitches that way. The bamboo needle has more of a drag to it and holds the needles firmly in place until I am ready for them.
This is especially important when doing running cables that cross each other and you end up using two DPNs for cable needles at the same time.
When I use the other types of needles, the ones with the a bend in their middle, the safety-pin style, or the ones that resemble a shepherd’s crook, they tend to overlap or get tangled and that gets my yarn, my needles, my fingers, and often times my mind a bit bunched up. The DPN bamboo needles don’t have to be held in place while you are knitting the cable stitches; they simply hang onto the yarn and stay put.
Another reason I chose to use a DPN is that I have them in my knitting supplies. I didn’t want to go out and purchase more needles if I could use what I already have. I am a firm believer in dual-purpose tools.
At the moment, I am making a pair of socks as a test knitter for a designer and I am using a 2.25 mm (US 1) circular needle. Sock yarn can be difficult to work with at times, because of its gossamer-like weight. It truly is like knitting with air at times. The yarn I am using now is a merino wool and silk blend, so it tends to be a bit slipperier than 100% wool.
You can see the contrast in needle sizes. The larger DPNs are 4.5 mm (US7). I find that the finer the yarn is, the easier it tends to slip off of metal needles. That’s great for knitting, but not so great for cabling. When only one stitch is being held on a bamboo needle, it can slip off quite easily, so care still needs to be taken.
The right tools can make a world of difference in any task, but it’s nice to know that you can save some money here and there by dual purposing what you may already have in your supplies.
Is there a technique or knitting tip you would like to see explained on the blog?