Cables intimidate a lot of knitters who haven't tried them before because they look so complex, but as Sara Louise Harper explains in Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting, a cable is just a way of knitting stitches out of order. Sure, some of them can be quite complex, but just as all knitting boils down to knits and purls, all cables are based on the idea of changing the position of stitches as you knit.
Harper's book offers up the basics of working with cables, reading charts and caring for knit sweaters, as well as 13 patterns, mostly for sweaters but also for a scarf, a bag, a hat and three pillows.
Lessons in Textured Knitting
Cable Confidence begins with a section on the basics: what cables are, how they are formed, the difference between cables (worked all in knit stitches) and twists (which include purl stitches), how to knit and block a swatch, tips for reading instructions and keeping your place in a pattern and how to block and care for your finished garment.
There's also information about textured knitting more generally, which includes things like bobbles and even simple textures like Moss and Seed Stitch.
There's a good discussion of binding off in pattern and why if you don't in a cable pattern, you might end up with a flared edge. Other helpful hints tackle weaving in ends, seaming, crochet and more.
The book includes 13 patterns for sweaters, a vest and a handful of accessories. They're all highly textured through the use of cables and other stitches. Some have allover cables while others use textured stitches like ribbing and basketweave to break up the more traditional cables.
Four of the patterns are rated easy, while eight are for intermediate knitters and there's one advanced project. The patterns typically have four sizes to choose from; there's one kids' sweater that has five size options.
Some of the more interesting patterns to me are the Bridget Pullover, a ribbed sweater for kids with a large center cable and notched neckline (there's also a matching scarf pattern); the bulky Skylar Felted Bag, which features a series of bold, graphic cables; the Emer Pullover, which uses a classic diamond motif filled with Seed Stitch but makes it a little more interesting by connecting the diamonds with cables; the lovely Sinead Pullover, pictured on the cover, which is just covered with all sorts of texture and twist; and the Lucy V-neck Pullover, which uses honeycomb and OXO cables to keep things interesting.
Several patterns in the book could be for men or women, though of course they'd be roomier on smaller women.
Cable Confidence might not be the best choice if you've never worked a cable pattern before, though it does have some good instructions for those new to cables. For those with a couple of projects under their belts who are looking for something more involved, there are a few good choices here.
And if you like the idea of cabled sweaters that aren't just cabled but have other kinds of textures featured as well, you're sure to enjoy these projects even more.
Publication date: May 2008