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Power Cables

Cable Knitting Master Class

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Power Cables

Power Cables by Lily M. Chin.

Interweave Press.

Lily M. Chin's Power Cables: The Ultimate Guide to Knitting Inventive Cables is one of those books that will awe and inspire knitters. It includes tons of techniques for knitting cables that are reversible, multicolored, multitextured, even fake cables that look like the real thing.

Chin has been working hard to master the art and magic of cable knitting for more than 20 years, and here she's spilling more details on the techniques she's developed so that all knitters can design their own cables or just develop a deeper understanding of how cables work and how to make them work for you.

New Ways to Think about Cables

Power Cables opens with Chin's description of a different way to chart cables than the traditional symbols that don't really do a good job of showing you what the finished cable is going to look like. This alone will spin some knitters' heads: it's such a simple concept but one I'd never seen before.

Chin still uses the more traditional charting technique for the patterns in her book, but it's interesting to think about the possibilities for the future of cable charting if a system such as hers were ever to catch on.

Her techniques for reversible and other inventive cables are sure to catch on with knitters who like the look of cables but sometimes find them annoying. Not only are traditionally formed cables not reversible, they're usually pretty ugly on the wrong side, meaning they're not a great choice for adding to scarves, afghans and other projects you'd like to look good on both sides.

Chin starts by working cables over ribbing to make them reversible or fraternal reversibles, then moves on to more complex moves involving textured stitch patterns, traveling stitches and multicolored cables.

There are also what she calls raised wale cables (where columns of knit stitches cross over with columns of purl or another stitch pattern between them) and phony cables like mock cables and cables made with colorwork.

Each section includes a description of how that class of cables is formed, instructions on basic patterns that can be made that way, and plenty of pictures and stitch swatches to inspire you to try the technique.

The Patterns

There are also 15 projects using the various kinds of cables, from a Honeycomb V-neck Pullover (pictured on the front) that illustrates the basics of working with cables to a gorgeous and advanced Bi-Color Brioche Stole, in which two-color ribbing is used to make reversible cascading cables.

There are patterns for socks with reversible, turn down cuffs, a hat and mittens with different cable patterns on each side (worked in the round at the same time on one layer of fabric!) so that you get a different look when you fold the edge of the hat or mittens up versus leaving them down, a vest covered with traveling stitches and a textured cabled tote bag, to name a few.

These patterns are best suited to knitters who are comfortable working more traditional cable patterns, reading from charts and doing garment shaping all at the same time. There are some that can be tackled by advanced beginner to intermediate knitters, but most are of the size and scope to be better suited to intermediate to advanced knitters.

The projects are well worth the effort they'll require for the beautiful results you'll get. Some of my favorites are the above-mentioned Bi-Color Brioche Shawl; the wide-lapeled Staghorn Cable Coat, which features reversible cables so you can wear the coat open or closed and it's beautiful either way; and the intriguing Turnaround Stole, which makes phony cables by turning stitches placed on a cable needle to form the twist.

Bottom Line

Lily M. Chin is a master of innovation in cable design and Power Cables will help you discover more than you thought there was to know about knitting cables. The projects in the book will whet your appetite for exploring intriguing cable designs and may just get you thinking about incorporating reversible, multitextured or multicolored cables into your own designs.

Publication date: June 2010

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Pattern corrections

Author's website

Projects on Ravelry

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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