I have a confession to make...
There are some techniques in knitting that I know are possible, but don't use often enough to remember off by heart how to do them. Sometimes those techniques are easily found on my ample knitting bookshelves, and other times I shrug and get on with the project knowing full well that there's a better way to do it, but lacking the time to hunt down the instructions. Two-stitch cable shortcuts fall into this category. I'm sure there's a tutorial out there somewhere, but I knew when we started to work on Something New to Learn About Cables, that I wanted to include a full set of instructions for the four most basic types: 1/1 LC, 1/1 RC, 1/1 LPC and 1/1 RPC.
So what do I mean by two-stitch cables? The simplest versions are sometimes called right twist and left twist, or C2B and C2F, or they are known by the abbreviations we use (1/1 LC and 1/1 RC), and one knit stitch crosses over another knit stitch leaning either right or left. When you stack these cables in a column you get an attractive tightly twisted rope effect (as seen in the swatch above). You can also cross a knit stitch over a purl stitch and these are sometimes called T2B and T2F or the abbreviations we favour would be 1/1 LPC and 1/1 RPC. Moving knit stitches over a background of purl allows you to work anything from simple to complex travelling stitch patterns, like those in my Sumburgh hat design (up top). Rachel's Areto hat design uses a straightforward panel of left and right purl crosses that create a honeycomb pattern, and are a great way to gain confidence with these itty-bitty cables.
I am very happy to cable without a cable needle for any but the widest cable crosses, but I know that lots of people find having their stitches hanging in mid-air a bit fiddly, or slightly alarming. The good news is that for these little two-stitch cables you don't need to take your needles out of the stitches – the whole manoeuvre can be worked on your needles. Hurrah! So, if you want to speed up your two-stitch cables, but don't want to be worrying about dropping stitches, these shortcuts are for you.
For all these tips and many, many more, check out our latest book, Something New to Learn About Cables. It's now available in our online shop for £14.00 plus shipping. I am throwing it into my knitting bag with every cable project I'm working on, so that I no longer have to go scrabbling around my bookshelves looking for those instructions.