Cable cast-on method – a left-handed knitting tutorial

Move yarn clockwise round right-hand needle

The cable cast-on is a modification of the knitted cast-on method

The cable cast-on method is my go-to method for teaching beginners. I like it because a new stitch is formed by moving the yarn in the same way as knitting, which means less for beginners to learn. And this method produces a cast-on edge that is firm and tidy even after knitting rows of stitches.

When I learnt to knit the first cast-on method that I learnt was the knitted cast-on method. I suspect that this method is taught to lots of beginners because it is quick and easy. However, the cast-on edge produced by this method is loose and not very neat and so has limited uses. Learning the cable cast-on method is a quick way to improve on the knitted cast-on since it is a modification of the latter.

he following explanations and images are for those who knit left-handed, that is, your left hand is your working hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and you move your stitches from your right-hand to your left-hand needle as you knit. If you knit right-handed, then read this blog post: Cable cast-on method – a tutorial for knitting right-handed.

Starting the cable cast-on

Like the knitted cast-on, the cable cast-on uses two knitting needles and starts with a slip knot. You make the first stitch in exactly the same way for both methods.

Place the slip knot on the needle in your right hand, hold the other needle in your left hand and hold the yarn using your preferred method. I usually knit by throwing the yarn, so in the following photos, I’m using my left hand to hold the yarn.

Step 0: Place slip knot on right-hand needle

Insert your left needle into the slip knot on your right-hand needle. You’ll need to hold onto the yarn tail otherwise you’ll be chasing the slip knot around!

Step 1: Insert left-hand needle through slip knot

Holding the yarn behind your needles, wrap the yarn around the left-hand needle anticlockwise | counterclockwise (when viewed from the non-pointed end). This means that you move the yarn forward under your left-hand needle, then pass it back over the same needle (the same movement as when making a knit stitch).

Step 2: Move yarn anticlockwise round left-hand needle.

Use your left-hand needle to pull a loop through the slip stitch (again, the same movement as when making a knit stitch).

Step 3: Pull new loop through slip knot

Keep pulling this loop out until you can move the right-hand needle forward over it …

Step 4: Lengthen new loop

and into the loop. Remove your left-hand needle; you have two stitches!

Step 5: Place new stitch on right-hand needle

With practice, you’ll be able to transfer the new stitch from the left- to the right-hand needle easily.

Now make more stitches

The cable and knitted cast-on methods differ in the way that more stitches are made. For the cable cast-on, you insert your left-hand needle between the two stitches on the right-hand needle, whereas for the knitted cast-on you insert it into the newest stitch on your right-hand needle. You may find inserting your needle between two stitches a bit tricky if your tension is tight. If so, use your left-hand needle to loosen the first stitch, then you should be able to insert the needle between the two stitches. It will become easier with practice.

Step 6: Insert left-hand needle between last two stitches

Holding the yarn behind your needles, wrap the yarn around the left-hand needle anticlockwise | counterclockwise (when viewed from the non-pointed end). In other words, you move the yarn forward under your left-hand needle, then pass it back over the same needle (just like making a knit stitch).

Step 7: Move yarn anticlockwise round left-hand needle

Use your left-hand needle to pull a loop through the stitch (similar to making a knit stitch).

Step 8: Pull new loop through gap between stitches

Keep pulling this loop out until you can move the right-hand needle forward over it and into the loop. Remove your left-hand needle; you have another stitch.

Keep going!

Cast on 15 – 20 stitches.

Cast-on stitches

Now work a couple of rows in stocking stitch.

The cast-on edge is neater and firmer than a knitted cast-on. And the cast-on stitches remain neat after you knit into them.

Cast-on stitches and two rows of stocking stitch

This is my favourite general-purpose cast-on for knitters who know the knitted cast-on. If you’re feeling adventurous you could try a tubular cast-on for a 1×1 rib or 2×2 rib.

When should you use the cable cast-on method?

You should use the cable cast-on method when you require a firm cast-on edge.

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