Shaping in Cables How to Knit

Shaping in Knitted Cables (Part One) Midweek Masterclass

In this week's Midweek Masterclass, we're using a hat as an example of how to decrease in cables, but you can apply these tips and techniques to knitting jumpers, scarves, socks and blankets. 

2nd March 2017

No matter how complex the words ‘decrease in pattern’ might seem, it’s never as tricky as it sounds! Here’s how to do it in Part One of this week's Midweek Masterclass.

If you’ve ever admired a beautiful twisted stitch hat or cable yoked jumper, you may have spotted that the stitch pattern seems to imperceptibly shrink as the circumference gets smaller. While this aspect of a design looks rather magical, like so much in knitting, it all comes down in the end to some pretty simple basic principles.

Construction breakdown

Ensuring contrast when knitting cables

Contrast is key

One of the key things when decreasing across cables is to make sure you keep a background to the main pattern for as many rows/rounds of the decreasing as possible.

In Sarah Edwardes’ lovely hat (on page 82), she has maintained the 2 st reverse stocking stitch background to each cable almost to the very end of the hat. 

This allows the cables to stand out better against the background right until the end. If you decrease away the ‘gutter’ around your cable column too soon, it won’t stand out any more, and you’ll also lose some of the natural ability of the cable to pull in widthways. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t decrease your gutter stitches at all though. See below for more about the best way you can do this.

Make your decreases smooth when knitting cables

Make your decreases smooth

It’s possible to decrease within cables themselves. For example, instead of working C4F, you could work a C4Ftog, decreasing the stitches at the back of the cable. To do this, you would place 2 sts on cable needle, hold at front, k2tog from left needle, K2 from cable needle, leaving you 3 sts.

This way of decreasing appears more ‘stepped’ and is useful if you want that look. But if you prefer a smoother sloping edge, then work the decreases on rows/rounds between the cables as Sarah has – one set of decreases between each cable. You can see an example of this on the Decreased Cable chart, on the opposite page, on rounds 2, 5, 8 and 11. If you work more than one set of decreases between each cable your angle of decrease will be sharper.

Careful placement is crucial when knitting cables

Careful placement is crucial

When you work decreases in the cable column, place them with care. If you place them in the centre of the column, you’ll make them more visible, and create a downwards pull in the centre. This can lead to stitches becoming distorted if your cable is quite wide and only travels in one direction.

Sarah has worked her decreases on the outer edges, which helps define them, keeping it looking contrasting and clear, even as it shrinks. Make sure any decreases lean into the centre of the column – left leaning decreases (ssk, skpo) go on the right edge of your stocking stitch column, right leaning decreases (usually k2tog) go on the left edge.

That's all for Part One! Click here for part two of our shaping in cables knitting masterclass, with a guide to keeping your hat in proportion, leaning your stitches the right way, working from the top down and more!

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