The cable cast-on method 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 you form a new stitch by moving the yarn in the same way as for a knit stitch, which means less for beginners to learn. And the cast-on edge 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. 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.
The following explanations and images are for those who knit right-handed, that is, your right hand is your working hand (regardless of which hand you use to hold the yarn) and you move your stitches from your left to right needle as you knit. If you knit left-handed, then read this tutorial.
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 left hand, hold the other needle in your right hand and hold the yarn using your preferred method. I usually knit by throwing the yarn, so in the following photos, I’m holding my yarn with my right hand.
Insert your right needle into the slip knot on your left needle. You’ll need to hold onto the yarn tail otherwise you’ll be chasing the slip knot around!
Holding the yarn behind your needles, wrap the yarn around the right needle clockwise (when viewed from the non-pointed end). This means that you move the yarn forward under your right needle, then pass it back over the same needle (the same movement as when making a knit stitch).
Use your right needle to pull a loop through the slip stitch (again, the same movement as when making a knit stitch).
Keep pulling this loop out until you can move the left needle forward over it …
and into the loop. Remove your right needle; you have two stitches!
With practice, you’ll be able to transfer the new stitch from the right needle to the left 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 right needle between the two stitches on the left needle, whereas for the knitted cast-on you insert it into the newest stitch on your left needle. You may find inserting your needle between two stitches a bit tricky if your tension is tight. If so, use your right 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.
Holding the yarn behind your needles, wrap the yarn around the right needle clockwise (when viewed from the non-pointed end). In other words, you move the yarn forward under your right needle, then pass it back over the same needle (just like making a knit stitch).
Use your right needle to pull a loop through the stitch (similar to making a knit stitch).
Keep pulling this loop out until you can move the left needle forward over it and into the loop. Remove your right needle; you have another stitch.
Cast on 15 – 20 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.
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.