Tutorial: How to correct cables (and the Ways of the Frog)

I’m currently reviewing the Craftsy class Celtic Cables with Carol Feller (review to follow soon) and knitting the Portulaca Cardigan. It’s been going beautifully, if you don’t include the part where I had to frog back eight rows – an entire evening’s work. Considering I’m working from four different cable charts across 200 + stitches per row this is quite heart-breaking as you can imagine. Mind you, coming from the woman who spent three years knitting and re-knitting one cardigan (aptly nicknamed the Cardigan of Doom) you’d think I’d be experienced in the Ways of the Frog. (Seriously, just type the word “frog” into my website search box and you’ll find a few posts on me and my experience of frogging. Would that be my frog chorus, I wonder…)

And indeed in many ways I am in experienced in the Ways of the Frog. The most important thing I have learnt is that if you think you are going to have to frog back your work the best thing to do is to put it aside for the evening and come back to it the next day or even a couple of days later. This saves you from feeling like you’ve wasted all the work you’ve done and you can think of the frogging as the next part of the item that you’re knitting.

However with my Portulaca after I’d knit eight rows, frogged them back and then re-knitted up to row 14 I was, as you can imagine, rather disappointed, shall we say, to discover that I’d knitted one cable leaning entirely the wrong way. For twelve rows. Even all my knitterly Zen about the Ways of the Frog weren’t particularly helpful in this circumstance.

Then something occurred to me. I was pretty sure that you could just undo the particular troublesome cable and re-knit it without having to take it all out. A quick Google later and my suspicions were confirmed.

So without further ado, please let me share with you the way to correct a cable that is twisting the wrong way without frogging your entire piece of work (and losing your mind in the process).

The problem

Photo tutorial: correcting cables

See those two cables between the blue stitch markers? They’re supposed to be identical right leaning cables. The set on the left hand side are the ones that need correcting.

The solution

Step one: Work in your pattern until you reach the point where the cable is which you need to correct. Isolate the cable stitches using a spare double pointed needle or cable needle. If you’re using double pointed needles I recommend using a size slightly smaller than the one that you are knitting your main garment with.

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Step two: Unravel the number of rows needed until you get to the last correct row worked.

You will see in my photos I had quite a few rows to undo. This was because apart from the initial cable cross I had knitted them all leaning to the left when they should have been leaning to the right. (Grr.)

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Step three: Separate out the stitches that make up your cable onto two double pointed needles then orient your stitches the correct way round.

In this example my cable is worked over four stitches and it’s a simple 2 x 2 cross. So as you can see from the photo I needed to move first two stitches on the right-hand side to the back of my work, and bring the stitches on the left-hand side to the front.

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Step four: Using the bottom-most string of yarn that you unraveled, knit the stitches following the pattern for the cable.

You’re using that string of yarn as if it were the working yarn coming from your ball of wool. This can be rather fiddly and you won’t be able to match up your gauge entirely. However you can wriggle the stitches around once they are reworked using your fingers and a needle, and they will also even out when you block the final piece.

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Step five: Continue to work in pattern until you have corrected all the incorrectly twisted cables.

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Step six: Once you reach the row that you were on originally, slip the corrected cable stitches back onto your needle and carry on working as before. No-one will be none the wiser, I promise.

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Ok, so there is a slightly noticeable thing with the gauge difference but don’t worry. As mentioned above it’ll even out when you block the cardigan. Plus at least they’re now both going in the same direction. Also, if someone is close enough to notice then you either really like them or you have my permission to punch them. Especially if they dare to criticise your cable gauge after all your hard work.

Because I love you, in addition to the photos I’ve made a little video to show the correction process in action.

 

I hope you find this tutorial useful. I know this technique certainly saved me a few headaches! Please leave me a comment on the blog if you need any further help.

Lisa Margreet | Craft educator and writer | image