Today I want to talk to you about a very serious crochet topic… crochet cables. Ok just kidding, its not serious but it is fun! I have had a love affair with these textured stitches for a while now… ever since I made this cabled hat from Stephani over at All About Ami… thank you Stephanie for this obsession.
I am working on a pretty big (and still secret ?) project that involves crocheting cables so in preparation for that I wanted to give you my top tips for making those tricky looking but deceptively easy cable stitches. I also have a beginner cable ear warmer pattern in the works that will be out next week so you can put these tips into action.
Getting familiar with crocheting post stitches
Post stitches are the bread and butter of crocheting cables. If you aren’t familiar with working post stitches, this is where you crochet around the stitch instead of through the loops at the top. There are front post and back post stitches, which determines how you insert your hook. I have linked to this tutorial before and will probably do it again, here is a great post stitch tutorial I made (photo and video!)
- Front post: Front to back to front
- Back post: Back to front to back
The hardest part for me when I learned to crochet post stitches was knowing how and where to insert my hook. I put together a little graphic so you can visualize it.
Bonus tip: You may also need to know taller stitches! Today for example we are using a treble and double treble crochet. Again the wonderful Moogly has a guide to help you with these tall stitches
Keep your pattern close at hand
Reading a crochet cable pattern can be a little tricky because they are oftentimes pretty wordy, especially if it is a bigger project like an afghan. I like to have a large print paper copy nearby that I can mark my progress. I cross off parts of the pattern as I complete them.
Bonus Tip: If your pattern comes with a chart, use it! I find it easier to decipher the cable pattern from a chart than only written words. Or you can sketch out your own chart! You can find a handy guide about reading charts HERE.
Picking the right tools
When you are just starting out with crochet cable stitches it is important to pick a yarn weight and fiber you are familiar with using. I would not recommend using stiff cotton or highly textured yarn for your first project. Also, make sure you are using a hook size appropriate for your yarn, not too big or too small.
Bonus tip: Use a yarn that can hold up to frogging (aka taking out stitches) because let’s face it mistakes happen, especially when we are learning new things.
Color is also important. You want to be able to see your stitches (and all the pretty texture!) so be sure to pick a yarn that is a little lighter in color. Black is probably not the best choice. I would also stay away from highly variegated yarns because the patterning will get lost in the colors. Self-striping yarns, like Caron Cakes and such work out well though!
Stick with it, practice makes better.
Usually setting up the cables is the most difficult part of crocheting cable stitches but once you get the first row done you will continue to build off those first post stitches.
And as with anything, it takes practice to learn a new skill.
Crochet Cable Basics
There are so many different types of cables but today we are going to go over a basic twisting rope cable. The idea of a twisting rope cable is that you skip a stitch (or 2 or 3), continue with your stitches and then work more stitches back over or under the stitches you just made. This creates that signature twist.
A thing to remember. just because you have what looks like skipped stitches, your stitch count will stay they same for each row because those stitches are actually placeholders for the post stitches. So the number of post stitches should match up with the number of skipped stitches.
Crochet cables are typically worked on single, half double or double crochet backgrounds and you can do post stitches on the right and wrong side using a combo of front and back post stitches or all on the right side using all front post stitches.
I like to make cables on the right side only using all front post stitches over a base of half double crochets. It creates a smooth fabric (on the backside) with minimal holes. So that is what I am going to show you today.
Rope Cable Crochet Tutorial
We are going to make a left twisting 4 strand rope cable. Grab your yarn and hook. I am using a worsted weight yarn and a 6mm hook.
This cable is worked over 5 stitches, plus however many sitches you want on either side or between cables.
- Us terminology
- Ch(s): chain(s)
- Hdc: half double crochet
- St(s): stitches
- FpTr: front post treble crochet
Row 1: Ch 8, hdc in 2nd chain from hook and in each st across, turn. (7)
Row 2: Ch 1, hdc in same st as ch 1 and in each st across. turn. (7)
Row 3: Ch 1, hdc in same st as ch1. FpTr (front post treble crochet) around next 2 sts 2 rows below (picture B).
Don’t rely on your eye to find the right stitch. On the 1st row Count in 2 stitches (or however many stitches are before the cable in your pattern) and make your FpTr around it. (picture A)
Hdc in next, FpTr around next 2 sts 2 rows below. (use that first fptr as a guide) Hdc in next (picture C). Turn. (7)
Row 4: Ch 1, Hdc in same st as ch 1 and in each st across.
Row 5: Ch 1, hdc in same st as ch 1. Skip 3 sts. FpDtr (front post double treble crochet) around next 2 sts 2 rows below. This time it is a little easier to find where to place your sitches because you will be crocheting around the Front Post Treble Crochets you made in row 3 (pictures D and E). Hdc in last skipped st. The FpDtr “filled” 2 of the stitches we skipped. Place your hdc in the last of the 3 skipped stitches. Now comes the part that I found a little tricky. Working in front the sts you just made, FpDtr around the 2 skipped sts 2 rows below. Again you will be making your stitches around the FpTr from row 3. Hdc in next (picures F and G). Turn.
Row 6: Ch 1, hdc in same st as ch 1 and in each across. turn
Row 7: This row is just like row 3. Ch 1, hdc in same st as ch 1. FpTr around next 2 st 2 rows below, hdc in next (pictures H and I), FpTr around next 2 sts 2 rows below. Hdc in next (pictures J and K). Turn.
Repeat rows 4-7 as many times as you want.
There, you just crocheted a cable stitch! Was it easier or harder than you thought? Let me know in the comments!
Stay tuned for that beginner cabled ear warmer pattern coming out soon! We will be using this cable technique you learned today, plus 1 more. Want to be the first to know? Sign up for my newsletter below to get blog updates and other fun crochet stuff in your email.
Did you know I started a Facebook group? Come join The Unraveled Mitten Croceht Club! Share your projects, ask questions and hang out with yours truly. It has been alot of fun so far, I hope to see you there.