Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tutorial: How to fix cables

Hey guys. Today I'm going to do something different. I have never done a tutorial before but while I was fixing a mistake in my new sweater, I thought maybe it would be something useful for other knitters to see.

Basically, you know when you're happily knitting along on a project with a cable, and then after a few rows you hold out your work to admire it, and you notice that something horrible has happened to your cable?!?!

Somewhere, things got crossed WRONG. Who knows why. It happens to me when I'm not paying attention to the pattern (usually when I'm too engrossed in whatever TV show I'm watching), or when I get really confused, or when I'm just not taking time to stop and check. (Which you need to do. Often.)

But there is a way out of this dark hole. I'm sure other knitters have figured this out, and it's not difficult, but just in case it hasn't occurred to someone, I'm going to do a tutorial on how to fix cables WITHOUT pulling out the entire work.

If you're a perfectionist (I am not), you might want to frog down to the mistake anyway because often, re-cabling can lead to some loose stitches, and it doesn't always look as perfect as it could, but with this method, you should be able to do fix your cable with virtually no differences. If the idea of ripping out precious rows and rows makes you exhausted just thinking about it (me), this is the quick and dirty, easy-peasy way to go.

(Warning-- I'm using pictures from two different cables so don't get confused by that. The principle remains the same.)

It all started when I realized that my braid cable was upside down.
 I had meant to do a regular braid. You know, right side up.

So I decided to fix it. I took the cable stitches off the needles and carefully ripped back only those stitches, using my cable needle. I ripped back to where the mistake had started. This is probably the most titchy part-- counting back to the correct row. If you cabled on row 3, and you rip back to row 2, and cable on that instead, your whole cable will be out of sync with the rest of the work because its RS and WS rows are one row off.

I was left with a little rainbow of strands that had been those rows. I picked up the stitches on the left-hand needle.

(Switching to a different cable)
Usually when I pick up stitches they're not oriented properly. I either orientate them correctly before I start or individually while I knit. Your preference completely.
Make sure you know if you've ripped down to a RS or WS row. Note that the loose strands are behind the work, and the working yarn is off to the side, since you are not using it.

Now you are ready to begin knitting. MAKE SURE when you select the strand to knit with that it is the BOTTOM-MOST strand attached to the knitting. See picture.

Now you knit. Just like you normally would, except using a short segment of yarn confined at both ends. Remember, since you are knitting the same amount of stitches as you originally did, you have exactly the right amount of yarn you need. (That's why this method is a little problematic with fixing increases/decreases.)

When you've fixed the cable, turn it over and purl back, again using the bottom-most strand.

When you've used up all the strands and have finished fixing your cable, take a look. Because tension is different than when you're using a loose strand of yarn, it might have a sort of pinched appearance right where you cabled, with one stitch tight and the above one loose.
(Heading back to the original cable)
This is easily fixed. Insert the cable needle into the tight stitch and wiggle gently to loosen it up. This will also tighten the previous stitch. Sometimes you may need to work the extra millimeter of yarn  down through several rows to disguise it.

And, ta-da! You've fixed your cable! That was easy. And a whole lot quicker than ripping back the entire thing.

Happy knitting!

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