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Making 2-Stitch Cables the Easy Way … And a New Hat Pattern: Merry!

Finally! The long-awaited cabled ear-flap hat is here!

But first, let me tell you my favourite way to make 2-stitch cables. Did you know that you don’t need a cable needle for these tiny things? And you don’t need to rearrange the stitches, either? There’s a fun little trick for making them. Here it is:

Right Cross 2-Stitch Cable

You’ll be working into the two stitches while they’re both still on the left-hand needle. So, insert your right needle into the second stitch (the further-from-the-tip one) knitwise from the front of the work. Knit it, but don’t slide it off the needle. Now, insert your right needle (with the new stitch still on it) into the first stitch on the left needle knitwise from the front. Knit it. Now both stitches have been knit, and you can slide both off the left needle, and you’re done!

Take care that you don’t loosen the stitches as you’re working them. What I do is knit the far stitch, insert my right needle into the next one, then give the working yarn a tug before knitting it.

Left Cross 2-Stitch Cable

Again, you’ll be working the two stitches that form the cable while they’re both on the left-hand needle. Insert your right needle tip into the second stitch, but this time, do it from the back of the work. You can do it through the back loop. (Even though this will twist the stitch, it doesn’t matter because it’ll be hidden.) Knit it, but don’t slip it off the left-hand needle. Now swing your right needle around to the front of the work and knit the first stitch normally and slide them both off the left needle. Done.

Don’t forget to give the working yarn a tug between knitting each stitch to tighten things up. Keep your motions small and work at the tips of your needles.

Now for the hat pattern: Merry!

Merry hat pattern. #knitting #cables Merry cabled hat pattern with pompoms. #knitting #cables #pompoms


If you’ve seen Merrick, then this one will look familiar. It’s a complete reworking of the pattern (even the charts are different) because it starts from the I-cord up. The I-cords grow into the ear flaps, and then the hat is cast on around the ear flaps and worked up to the crown.

It’s a fun, squishy knit that’ll keep your ears and cheeks cozy on cold winter days. It makes a great gift for kids, teenagers, skiers, snowshoers, skaters, outdoor dog walkers, snowman builders, and bus-waiting commuters. The cables give the hat a lot of stretch and squish, so the sizes are quite versatile. And if you’d like to make a more slouchy version, just knit a size up.

Like I do in most of my patterns, I’ve included tips for making everything just so. Never knit an I-cord before? Don’t worry, there are full instructions plus tips for making them even.

And don’t worry about remembering the instructions for the little 2-Stitch cables. I’ve included the relevant ones in the pattern.

[box type=”download” size=”large” border=”full” icon=”none”]You can grab the Merry pattern here.[/box]

Or on Ravelry here.

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How To Cable Without A Cable Needle

Confession: I find cabling to be a little tedious. Using a cable needle and transferring stitches back and forth breaks my flow, and it annoys me. I knit cables sparingly.

Until, that is, I discovered how to cable without a cable needle. Now, I don’t mind cabling so much. In fact, it’s kind of fun.

I know of two ways to cable without a cable needle. One way, I learned from Grumperina’s website, here. But after trying it, I found that I didn’t love it as much as the straight rearranging-stitches method that I’m about to show you. But one of the joys of knitting is that you can try a couple methods and then settle on your very own favourite. In fact, I encourage it. Try everything!

Basic Construction of a Cable

A cable is made of a column of knit stitches, usually flanked by columns of purl stitches. The column is generally, but not always, divided in half. The direction the cable leans is determined by which half of the stitches in the column crosses in front of the other half.

If the left half crosses in front, the cable leans over to the right.

If the right half crosses in front, the cable leans over to the left.

Right-Cross Cable without a cable needle

To get a cable to lean to the right, you’ll want the left half of the stitch column to come across the front. So, with your right-hand needle, reach in front of the right half and insert the needle tip into the stitches that form the left half of the cable. In this case, I have a 6-stitch cable, with 3 stitches in the left half and 3 stitches in the right half. A written direction for this cable might read either C6R (cable 6 right) or 3/3 RC (3 over 3 right cross).

Right cross cable step 1. Cabling with a cable needle. #knittingtips #write31days

With your right hand, pinch the stitches under the cable. With a smooth, straight movement, withdraw the left needle from all the stitches in the cable.

Cable right cross step 2. Cabling without a cable needle. #knittingtips #write31days

The right needle will be holding on to the left half, and the right half of the column will be free at the back, but pinched and held in place by your right hand underneath. With the same smooth, straight movement at the back, poke the left needle back into those stitches immediately.

Right cross cable step 3. Cabling without a cable needle. #knittingtips #write31days

Slip the stitches on the right-hand needle back to the left needle…

Right cable cross step 4. Cabling without a cable needle. #knittingtips #write31days

…then knit across all the stitches.

Right cross cable step 5. Cabling without a cable needle. #knittingtips #write31days

Right Cross Cable: Cabling without a cable needle. #knittingtips #write31days


While you’re performing these movements, keep the needle positions the same except for the straight, out-and-in motion of the left needle. Don’t move or spread the needles and stitches in any way. Keep the movement small and quick.

A slippery needle works best for this maneuver. I use Knit Picks Nickel-Plated needle tips. Metal Addis or Hiya Hiyas are also perfect. Anything slightly sticky, like bamboo, laminated wood, or plastic might add just enough friction to tug the stitches and frustrate you.

Left-Cross Cable without a cable needle

To form a left-leaning cross, the right half of the cable column needs to go in front, and the left half needs to cross behind. So, with your right-hand needle, reach behind the right half and insert the needle tip into the stitches that form the left half of the cable.

Left cross cable step 1. Cabling without a cable needle. #knittingtips #write31days

With your right hand, pinch the stitches under the right half of the cable. With a smooth, straight movement, withdraw the left needle from all the stitches in the cable.

left cross cable step 2. Cabling without a cable neede. #knittingtips #write31days

The right needle will be holding on to the left half, and the right half of the column will be free at the front, but pinched and held in place by your right hand underneath. With the same smooth, straight movement at the front, poke the left needle back into those live stitches immediately.

left cross cable step 3. Cabling without a cable needle. #knittingtips #write31days

Slip the stitches on the right-hand needle back to the left needle…

left cross cable step 4. Cabling without a cable needle. www.aknitica.come #knittingtips #write31days

…then knit across all the stitches.

left cross cable step 5. Cabling without a cable needle. #knittingtips #write31days

left cross cable. Cabling without a cable needle. #knittingtips #write31days


It is completely normal to be nervous about this technique. Most of us freak out a little when we pull our needles out of our stitches. Needles usually fall out against our will, so we try to avoid it at all costs. But it doesn’t have to be something you’re afraid of. Tomorrow, I’ll show you how to easily pick up dropped stitches, even if they’ve dropped all the way down to your cast on edge.

But in the meantime, don’t worry. Practice this on a worsted-weight project with real wool so it’s nice and sticky and doesn’t want to unravel. It might feel awkward the first couple times, but, before you know it, your hands will get the knack of it and your cabling rhythm will improve and get faster.

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

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Merrick: Cabled hat pattern

How excited am I about this pattern?  Well, I’ve already knit it up 5 times, and I’m working on a sister pattern with integrated earflaps.  (I want an tangerine orange one for myself, if I can find the time to make it.)

Merrick debuted on Ravelry this past weekend and made it into the Top 20.   I love seeing my patterns alongside designers I admire, like Kate Davies and Stephen West.  Can you say excited?


Fleece Artist BFL Aran version








I first knit Merrick up using Fleece Artist Blue Face Leicester Aran yarn.  I loved the velvety texture of the hat.  It felt lush and thick, and I couldn’t stop petting it.

Then I knit it up using Cascade 220.  I realized that the gauge was different with worsted-weight yarn (duh, me), so I reworked the hat a bit.  I was worried that Fleece Artist wasn’t widely available enough, and I wanted Merrick to be knittable in a common weight.

I wanted to make sure that the Cascade 220 worsted-weight gauge wasn’t an accident, so I picked up some golden Debblie Bliss Rialto Aran from my favourite yarn shop.  It said “aran” — would it be more like the Fleece Artist, or the Cascade?  It turns out the gauge was worsted, as well.  What a relief!

As an added bonus, the Debbie Bliss yarn made the squishiest, most well-defined cables ever.  I absolutely love the texture of it.  I wish I could have a shelf of it in every colour.

But I still had a crush on the Fleece Artist BFL, so I compromised a bit.  In the pattern, the main sizing instructions are for worsted-weight yarn, but I gave some notes on using the heavier aran-weight, too.

When you purchase the pattern, you’ll be getting both charted and written instructions.  You can use either one or the other, according to your preference.  They’re both complete and separate.

I also included detailed written instructions for each stitch used in the pattern.  Feel free to send me a message if anything remains unclear.

To knit Merrick, you will need:

  • 100g worsted weight yarn (or 1 125g of Fleece Artist BFL yarn)
  • size 7 US (4.5mm) circular needle, 16″ for body of hat; and a second circ or dpns for crown shaping.  OR, size needed to get gauge.  (You don’t want your hat to be too small, do you?)
  • cable needle, if using
  • stitch marker
I prefer to knit cables without a cable needle.  I find it much faster.  I learned how to do that from Grumperina’s photo tutorial.
The gauge you’re aiming for is 5 sts per inch in stockinette in the round.  If you know Judy’s Magic Cast On, just cast on about 15 sts per needle and work a tiny, straight pocket in the round.  Make it about 2 inches long, then take the needles out and measure your gauge.  That’s a quick, easy way to get an accurate in-the-round gauge.
Why is measuring your gauge in the round so important?  Because most people purl slightly looser than they knit, so our gauges tend to be different when we’re knitting every round that when we’re knitting and purling back and forth.  (The things you learn while taking the Master Knitting course.)
But I digress.
And now, a plethora of photos so you can see the hat from all angles and decide that you must, this very minute, buy a copy of this pattern for you and all your friends.


My test knitter had this to say about Merrick: [quote] “It was a nice knit.  I found the pattern very easy to work with and your charts worked really well.  I did not use the written instructions, only the notes that went with the charts and the explanations for the symbols on the charts, which I found useful.”[/quote]





[box]Where did I come up with the name Merrick?  Well, it wasn’t easy picking a name for this hat.  I had all my Facebook friends give me great suggestions, but in the end, I chose to somewhat name it in honour of where I bought the yarn.  (Plus, doesn’t “Merrick” sounds vaguely Aran-ish?)  If it weren’t for Beckie at Unraveled in Merrickville, I never would have had the pleasure of working with the Debbie Bliss.  And now I’m addicted to it.  Thanks, once again, Beckie, for inspiring me to happily relinquish all of my yarn budget to your capable hands.  [/box]

[box type=”download”]

You can purchase your very own pdf copy of Merrick right here!  Your download will be sent to you automatically.


What do you think of the Merrick hat pattern?  Have you ever tried cabling without a special needle before?  I’d love to hear from you!

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Cozy Fall, Cozy Knitting

There’s a chill in the air around here, and the leaves have been turning rusty shades of sun-kissed orange and red, and a switch has flipped in my brain.  I’m knitting cables.

I picked up a gorgeous skein of Fleece Artist Blue-Faced Leicester Aran on sale at a local yarn shop in the summer.  It’s just brown… but oh! What a brown!  When I finally got around to winding it into a ball (by hand, off the back of a kitchen chair), I discovered that there are depths of warmth and coziness in the colours.  As it ran through my fingers, I fell in love with the texture.  It is soft and squishy and velvety, and I’m in love.

Here’s a little sneak peak of the pattern I’m working on, which, although it was inspired by this yarn, will probably be written for a worsted weight instead.  We’ll see.


I find that my favourite designs come out of experimentation, not premeditation.  Maybe that’s weird.  I will sometimes dream and imagine all the things I’d like to knit, but the reality of those dreams doesn’t always work out.  When I sit down and just get started, playing with the yarn as I go, I often end up with something very satisfying.  Cables can be especially lovely for that, since they can travel around at will as I go.  Hats make a great canvas, since they are small and easily re-knit if things go horribly wrong.

Have you ever sat down and played with a hat?  Here’s a glimpse of what I do:  Cast on something in multiples of ten, with appropriate-sized needles for your yarn, and just go for it.  Throw in some evenly spaced cables, then let them travel around when you get bored.  Maybe I’m strange, but I find that to be a fun and stimulating exercise.  The first hat I cast on ended up being too small, so, about halfway through, I ripped it all out.  The second hat was just right (since I had looked at my stitch count on hat number one before ripping it out to see how many more stitches I’d need).  I had some nice, mindless cables at the beginning, then I started to get tired of them.  Where can they go? I wondered.  So I sent them travelling to see what would happen.  I knew from previous experience knitting other peoples’ patterns how to move a cable around (most recently the Knotty gloves, of which I have made three pairs), and I knew I could always rip things out if I had to.

As I decided on one possibility, others were discarded or filed away in my brain for later.  Maybe this will turn into more than one design for a hat, or maybe there will be matching mittens.  Or leg warmers!  (My one love from the 80’s.)  Who knows?  The point is that knitting is fun, and I can go on adventures in my own kitchen, with Yo-Yo Ma playing in the background.  What a great life.