Hot Tip: Count your cable crosses correctly

Hot Tip: Count your cables correctly

I’ve written before about my aversion to being on publishers’ review-copy lists, but when I heard Norah Gaughan had a book about cables coming out — with photos by Jared Flood, including the one glimpsed above — you know I signed right up for an advance peek! The mailman dropped it off yesterday and I would like to curl up with it for a few days, please. “Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook” (currently available for preorder) is an incredible compendium of over 150 cable motifs, along with a dozen garment and accessory patterns and all sorts of Norah wisdom, like the little nugget she kindly allowed me to share below.

You know how I love knitting cables, but one thing I struggle with sometimes is counting the rows between them, given that by their very nature they distort the fabric. I’ve taken to pinning a marker in an adjacent plain stitch in the same row, and counting from there. But Norah has a much simpler and more foolproof tactic, which I will quote verbatim rather than paraphrasing:

“At the point where your cable crosses, there is always a small hole. For some reason the hole tends to be larger on the left side of the cable for most people, so that’s the hole I use in my counting technique. I put a finger into the opening from the back of my knitting, then use the same finger to open up the ladders above the hole so I can more easily count the ladders. When counting ladders, the first one is the cable crossing. So, if you count 7 rows above the hole as in the photo above, you’ve worked the cable + 6 more rows.”

Brilliant! By the way, it’s just a month until I get to meet Norah in person at the Knitting With Company retreat and I’ve heard there are still some spots available. So if you’d like to spend a few days knitting with Norah and me — plus Julie Hoover and Catherine Lowe — in a cozy lodge by a scenic lake, get your registration in!

ALSO — SPEAKING OF GOOD THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN OCTOBER, if you’re wondering whether Slow Fashion October is happening again this year, the answer is YES ABSOLUTELY YES. I’m just still pinning down the details yet — so watch for more on that very soon!


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16 thoughts on “Hot Tip: Count your cable crosses correctly

  1. ohhhh so many good things in this post. so wish i had the cash to go to the retreat. it would be AWESOME. GREAT tip about cable row counting, i always struggle with it. the book is on my christmas list. AND slow stitch october is a go!!! wonderful.

  2. Nostalgia time for me. Ages ago I took a design class with Norah at my LYS (now closed, sigh.) I still remember it as a huge highlight in my knitting career. I pre-ordered! I feel blessed.

  3. Please tell me how to get on a publisher’s review copy list, there is nothing I would love more than reviewing new knitting books. Norah Gaughan and cables, perfect mix.

  4. Thank you for the Hot Tip, Karen. I am delighted to see that Amazon has Norah’s book available on Kindle. That solves my ‘storage’ issue living on the road. Material goods are a NO-NO.

    I am more than just a little GREEN that you are attending the Knitting With Company Retreat and will be in the company of Norah Gaughan, Julie Hoover and Catherine Lowe. If I were able to be there it would be AWESOME! Have a wonderful time for all of us who are unable to go.

  5. oooh, finally! I usually place a clip on the cable itself where it crosses and count rows that way, but sometimes I forgot to add the clip :(

  6. The tip for counting the rows between cables was demonstrated by Meg Swansen on the Knitting Glossary DVD many years ago. Meg inserts a DPN between the hole made at the cable cross and the last ladder making it easy to count.
    At any rate, thank you for bringing this to the attention of those who do not know about it. It is a good one.

  7. What a brilliant and simple tip!! Years and years ago while living in RI, I would stop in to
    a yarn shop on Wickenden St. (if my memory is correct) quite often and I remember both Norah and Deborah Newton would be in the shop. Who knew then when Norah was a student at Brown, she would become this wonderful and famous designer?!! I am going to pre-order her book asap!! Once again, thank you for sharing these tips.

    • I learned this too from Patty Lyons in many of her cable classes. Funny how things go around and revolve.

  8. Yes, you are right Arlene, I was thinking the same thing, this tip was from Meg Swansen many years ago. I learned it in her Knitting Camp in the 1980’s.

  9. I also hate getting unsolicited books (why would anyone think we’d be dying to review a book of doll clothes?) but I’m really glad you got this one so I’d know to add it to my collection!

  10. Pingback: Hot Tip: Start with a sleeve | Fringe Association

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