Now that you understand how cables are made, you may consider cabling without a cable needle! This skill will make cable-heavy projects go much more quickly, and allow you to make a cable anywhere, even if you forgot to bring a cable needle along.
To make a cable twist without a cable needle, you’ll be first rearranging the order of the stitches on the needles, then knitting them.
Note: this technique is especially easy and risk-free if you’re using a “sticky” wool or rugged cotton yarn, rather than a slippery silk or alpaca fiber.
How to do it:
First, the 2-over-2 Left cable. Start by slipping ALL 4 stitches over to the right-hand knitting needle, purlwise.
Bring your left-hand needle across the front and stick it into what used to be the first and second stitches, the right 2 stitches on the right-hand needle, as you see above.
Now here’s the bit that seems tricky (or scary, even) but it’s really not! Once you do it a few times, it’s easy. As the gif animation above shows:
With your left hand holding your knitting in place, slip the right-hand needle out of ALL 4 sts, then slip it immediately back into the 2 loose back stitches.
Those 2 stitches will only be loose (no needle through them) for a second at most, as the needle slips out and then right back in. As long as you’re holding your knitting firmly, there should be no risk of disaster.
So now you have what used to be the 2 right stitches on the left-hand needle, twisting in front of what was the 2 left stitches, now on the right-hand needle. None have been knit into yet.
Slip the 2 stitches from the right-hand needle onto the left-hand needle, straight across. Now all 4 stitches are ready to knit, in the new correct order.
Knit the first 2 stitches (the back stitches), then knit the next 2 stitches (the front stitches).
There’s your no-cable-needle Left cable! The result is the same as with a cable needle, but it’s very quick and easy to do once you get the hang of it.
And now, a 2-over-2 Right cable without a cable needle. Start by bringing your right-hand needle across the front of your work and through the second pair of stitches, purlwise.
Now you’ll work a similar action to the previous cable, but flipped. Here we go (following the gif animation above):
Holding your knitting firmly in your right hand, slip the left-hand needle out of ALL 4 stitches, then slip it immediately back into the back 2 loose stitches.
Now what used to be the left 2 stitches are twisted in front, on the right-hand needle, and what was the right 2 stitches are twisted in back, on the left-hand needle. No stitches have been worked yet.
Slip the 2 stitches from the right-hand needle back over to the left-hand needle. Now all 4 stitches are ready to knit in their new cable twisted order.
Knit the first 2 stitches, the front stitches of your Right twist. Then knit the last 2 stitches, the back stitches.
And here’s the completed Right cable.