How to work mini-cables without a cable needle

Simple mini-cables, like those featured in my Beeswax Hat, Cowl, and Mitts, are easy to work without using a cable needle. If you're a cable lover, this is a brilliant trick to be familiar with - especially if you have a tendency to leave your notions bag in another room!

My favourite method is the 'slip and switch' method, which mirrors the movements of k2tog and ssk decreases. The difference is that after rearranging the stitches, you work them individually instead of decreasing them together.

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How to block textured knits

Here's the situation: you've just finished knitting something with fantastic texture, either in cables or knits-and-purls, and now you need to block it. Wet-blocking, where you soak the project before laying/pinning it out to dry, can really flatten out texture, especially if you've used a yarn that doesn't 'bounce back' much once it's dry (like an alpaca or silk blend).

I had just this dilemma when I finished my Beeswax Scarf! I had wet-blocked my swatch and been disappointed by how flattened-out it was. Obviously, I was keen to try a different blocking method that would preserve more of the lovely texture!

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Heartpops Revisited

Sometimes I get the urge to re-knit an older pattern and tweak a few things - the colour, the length, various aspects that don't fit my current preference. And sometimes I just really want to add a pompom! My Heartpops hat was released back in February, and I was (and am) super proud of the stitch pattern I invented of 3D hearts in a delicate cabled lattice:

What I didn't love so much, especially when it came time to photograph the hat, was the extremely bright, almost fluorescent colour I'd chosen. It's a fun colour, but it was seriously hard to photograph, especially in sunlight. I also wanted to showcase the hat's other blocking option, which is beanie-style rather than beret-style (blocked over a balloon instead of a dinner plate).

It's the same pattern, but the effect is so different:

First version (Feb 2016)

Second version (Nov 2016)

This second version is much softer and calmer looking, thanks to the change of yarn. This time I used Scout, a lofty DK-weight organic merino from Wool Days, in the colour 'Winter's Day'. The cool neutral grey shows off texture and cables beautifully! Two balls was enough for both hat and pompom.

Another tweak I made was reducing the height of the ribbing a little, because if I'm adding a pompom I want the hat to fit snugly on my head without extra room at the crown - I don't want the pompom to flop around up there. But aside from the yarn change and shortening the ribbing, the pattern is exactly the same as before.

Happily, I still had some of the heart-shaped lollipops left over from the previous photoshoot! If that's not proof of my lack of sweet tooth, I don't know what is. ;)

The updated Heartpops pattern is available on Ravelry.

New pattern: Heartpops

New pattern day! Heartpops is a cute textured tam or beret, with embossed hearts popping out from a lattice of cables.

I took advantage of the Valentine's Day display at the lolly shop for my photo props. ;) My sweet tooth is pretty much non-existent, so my flatmates will have to take on the task of eating the lollies now I'm done photographing them... I'm sure they won't complain too much!

This is what the bright blue yarn from my Wellington trip became - it's Madelinetosh Tosh DK in 'Button Jar Blue'. Tosh DK has great stitch definition and, best of all for someone who tends to do a lot of un-knitting in order to get a project just so, it's tough enough to stand up several rounds of frogging without getting damaged. And the colour is just unreal...

Features:

  • textured pattern with embossed hearts and cable lattice
  • 1/1 cables that can be knit without a cable needle
  • the lattice flows out of the ribbing and into a star-shaped crown
  • can be blocked into a tam/beret shape or a beanie shape
  • a one-skein project for 100g of DK-weight yarn
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid colourways
  • four sizes (Child Small to Adult Large)
  • both charted and written instructions.

Here's a link to my favourite tutorial on knitting small cables without a cable needle: Twisted Stitches.

There are a couple of special increases and decreases in this pattern, which are explained in the stitch glossary. They only occur a few times - mostly you'll be working plain old m1, k2tog, and ssk. This pattern would be suitable for an intermediate or advanced level knitter.

The Heartpops pattern is available to download as a pdf from Ravelry or Loveknitting.

New patterns: Rose Jam

Some of you may have gathered I have a bit of a thing for roses. I like to look at them, smell them, and for good measure, eat them! Rosewater and rose jam are lovely in desserts and baking, and fun to experiment with. My favourite combos are quince jam made with rosewater (recipe here), and rose jam on scones with whipped cream. :)

It was only a matter of time before I came up with a rosy knitting pattern, and in fact I've made two: the Rose Jam Hat and matching Rose Jam Mitts.


The stitch pattern is inspired by rose petals, which sometimes have a very sweet heart-shape in some old-fashioned and wild varieties. Like so:

Rosa moyesii, at Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens

Hat features:
  • all-over mini-cable texture inspired by rose petals
  • the petals flow smoothly out of the ribbing and up to the crown 
  • a one-skein project (128-160 yards of worsted-weight yarn)
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid colourways
  • two adult sizes, photos show larger size  
  • both charted and written instructions. 


 Mitts features:
  • all-over mini-cable texture inspired by rose petals
  • the thumb gusset emerges naturally from the stitch pattern
  • a one-skein project (140 yards of worsted-weight yarn)
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid colourways 
  • one size, to fit 7-8" palm circumference
  • both charted and written instructions. 


The 2-stitch cables in the hat and mitts can easily be knit without a cable needle, making these quite straightforward projects for an intermediate-level knitter. I've included a guide in each pattern based on this excellent method.

The yarn I used for my hat and mitts is the famously-squishable Malabrigo Rios, in the semi-solid colour 'Ravelry Red'.



The Rose Jam Hat and Mitts are available as separate patterns, or together.

Ravelry links: Rose Jam Hat and Rose Jam Mitts, and the ebook Rose Jam.
Loveknitting links: Rose Jam Hat and Rose Jam Mitts.

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The little white flowers in some of the photos above are from Mum and Dad's Viburnum opulus, known to us as the 'Snowball Tree'. After our Rose Jam photoshoot, Dad took photos of me messing about and making the tree 'snow'. And then he made an animated gif. ;)