How to Knit Open Cables

 

Open cables - which are also called travelling cables - are unlike the cables I've so far shown you. The key difference is that the cables I've demonstrated so far are straight up-and-down cables, whilst open cables incorporate background stitches within the cable itself i.e. there are background stitches between the strands of the cable.

This gives you so many more design options, because instead of the strands of the cable only being able to twist around each other in straight columns, they can instead travel all across your knitting project and make much more interesting and intricate twists.

 

The other advantage of having background stitches between the cable strands in that it makes the strands 'pop' more and look more defined. Double win!

More often than not, the background stitches will be reverse stockinette stitch, and the cable stitches will be stockinette stitch. In this case, the strands of an open cable would be created by carrying knit stitches (i.e. the 'right side' stitches of the stockinette stitch) over purl stitches (i.e. the 'right side' stitches of the reverse stockinette stitch).

 

And that is how open cables incorporate the background stitches; by twisting the cable strand stitches over the top of them.  

Here is a video that demonstrates the knitting of an open cable, and also explains how one is formed. I try and walk through each step whilst explaining why we are doing the stitches we are doing, to hopefully give you a better understanding of cabling.

The Pattern:

I cast on 13 stitches for this demonstration, which gave me enough stitches for the cable (9) as well as a narrow column of reverse stockinette stitch either side of the cable (4).

Row 1 (WS):   k4, p2, k1, p2, k4

Row 2 (RS):   p4, slip next 3 stitches purl-wise to CN & hold CN to the back, k2, (p1, k2 from CN), p4

Row 3:   Same as row 1.

Row 4:   p3, back cross, p1, front cross, p3

Row 5: k3, p2, k3, p2, k3

Row 6:   p2, back cross, p3, front cross, p2

Row 7:   k2, p2, k5, p2, k2

Row 8:   p2, k2, p5, k2, p2 

Row 9:   Same as row 7.

Row 10:   p2, front cross, p3, back cross, p2

Row 11:   k3, p2, k3, p2, k3

Row 12:  p3, front cross, p1, back cross, p3

Key

WS = wrong side, RS = right side, CN = cable needle, k = knit, p = purl

Front cross cable:

(which can also be referred to by the abbreviations 'C3F' or '2/1 LC')

This is a left-leaning cable that is worked across 3 stitches.

It involves carrying 2 (stockinette) knit stitches over 1 (background) purl stitch.

It is worked as follows:   slip 2 stitches to the CN and hold CN at the front, p1, then k2 from the CN.

Back cross cable:

(which can also be referred to by the abbreviations 'C3B' or '2/1 RC')

This is a right-leaning cable that is worked across 3 stitches.

It involves carrying 2 (stockinette) knit stitches over 1 (background) purl stitch.

It is worked as follows:   slip 1 stitch to the CN and hold CN at the back, k2, then p1 from the CN.

And that's it! I hope you found this useful.

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