Saturday, August 12, 2017

twist & shout

I remember the first time I learned how to cable, with a large, U-shaped cable needle and worsted weight acrylic yarn -- how frustrating it was! Moving stitches to the back and the front, making sure the yarn was on the correct side, all while trying to balance the yarn, knitting needles, and cable needle. I made it worse on myself by attempting it on a hat being worked on double points. I barely understood the chart, much less the written instructions, and I probably had to re-work that first cable several times before completing it correctly.

Since then, my cabling skills have really grown. I discovered how to cable without a cable needle, which made my stitches zip back and forth a little faster. I discovered that cables in stretchy, round wools are much easier than in unyielding, shiny synthetics. Above all, I learned how to read the charts -- the true key to cable success. I consider myself a capable cabler, though hardly a master, and while I haven't completed a whole cabled sweater yet, I have certainly attempted.

If, like at the state fair, we were to line up all of the knitters currently living who are the very best at designing and implementing cables in their work for a Cable Queen (or King) award, we'd be in for a pretty hefty challenge before handing out that sash. There are some amazing cable knitters out there! Sure to be among them, though, would be Norah Gaughan. Norah has embraced the cable fully and reached a sort of zen level among cable knitters -- she understands what they do, how to use them, and has a system for making them work in all sorts of fantastic ways. Luckily for those of us who simply study and do not theorize on the subject, last year she released a beautiful book on cable knitting: The Knitted Cable Sourcebook.

Part stitch dictionary and part cabling guide, Norah leads her readers through pages and pages of beautiful cable stitches, then teaches us how to swap them out within patterns, design with them, and apply them to some wonderful silhouettes she's been so kind as to include in the book. I picked up my copy when she was signing them at Rhinebeck 2016 -- I was lucky enough to have her as a roommate, and was also able to pick her brain a bit on the subject. (Brace yourself -- Norah does not cable without a cable needle, she believes that it uses the same amount of time either way.)

In celebration of my own book coming out with the same publisher soon, I thought it might be fun to host a little giveaway of this wonderful book right here on my blog and on Instagram. It's easy to enter: just make sure on Instagram that you are following me (@hannahbelleknits) and Norah (@norahgn) and leave a comment telling me about your first cabled project. Or, if you prefer to enter the old-fashioned way, you can leave a comment here on the blog about your first cable project. I'll draw a winner on September 1. 

Of course, I had to cast on right at Rhinebeck on a cardigan, that has quickly become quite a brain-teaser and needs to be re-worked. I talked it out with Anne and discovered that it simply isn't working for me at all, so it's going back to the drawing board once I can bring myself to frog it (sigh). I hate when that happens! Here's a look at the piece that made it to the underarm, at least:


  1. I took a class on two-sided cables from Norah last fall at Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival. Inspiring!

    My first cabled project was my very first project. My favorite auntie taught me to knit when I was 14. I was spending the summer with her. I knit a pullover, in the round, stockinette with two cables going up the front. Fun!

  2. My first cabled project was an scarf. I used dark green acrylic yarn...the fabric ended up being very "hearty" (read: stiff). Haha!


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