"Reading" Your Knitting: Part 4 - Reading Cables

Knitted texture is one of my absolute favourite things in knitting. I love knits, and purls, and all the combinations thereof. But what I really love is the magic you can make simply by knitting some stitches out of order.

I started knitting cables early on in my knitting career, which means I have had a LOT of practice learning how to recognize where I am in a cable repeat. (Humble brag: I once knit an entire hatband for the Lucy Pevensie Tam while a passenger in a nearly-dark vehicle, completing it mostly by feel—and I didn’t even need to unknit later.)

While I can’t promise to pass on my in-the-dark-knitting superpowers through this post, I can promise to show you not one but three ways to recognize when it’s time to do another crossing row on your cable—without that infernal row counter.

If videos are your style, check out the tutorial video (about ten minutes long). If you dig reading stuff, first, knitting high five, and second, read on!

For my sample swatch, I used a 6-stitch cable with a repeat every 6 rows. On the right side of the cable is garter stitch (knit front and back), and on the left side is reverse stockinette stitch (purl on the right side, knit on the wrong side). These are two very common choices to edge a cable.

While your crossing row most likely is NOT the “first” row of your pattern or chart, for the purposes of counting, you will think of it as number one. The number of rows between crossing rows should be the same as the number of rows in your cable repeat.

Count Garter Stitch Ridges

Garter stitch has a purl ridge every two rows. (If you have a tough time recognizing knit and purl stitches, check out my first “Reading Your Knitting” Tutorial.)

In the pattern above, the crossing row had knit stitch beside it, which meant that I would be on a knit row when it was time to cross. I would also have three purl ridges between this crossing row and my last one.

Can you see it?

Reverse Stockinette Method

This one counts purl ridges, too, but in this stitch, there’s a ridge every row. So, starting with the last crossing row (which would be the row of ridges right above the little dent in the edge of the cable), count a column of purl ridges equal to the number of rows between crossing rows.

Climb the Cable Method

If you flatten your cable, you should be able to see that the row above the “gap” is the first row where you can see the Vs line up all the way across the cable. This was your last crossing row.

Count up the Vs to find out if you are ready for another crossing row.


And that’s it. Pretty simple, eh?

Be sure to check out my other “Reading Your Knitting” tutorials, or my many other Stitch Tutorials or knitting patterns.

If you have a “reading your knitting” question you would like to see me cover, please send me a note through my Contact page.

Happy knitting!

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