Steeplejack Mitts Tutorial: Cabling Without a Cable Needle
Practical accessories like fingerless mitts do not have to be boring. The Steeplejack Mitts by Quinn Reverendo feature a cable detail that begins at the base of the cuff, winds across the back of the hand, and crosses back at the top of the palm. The use of two Manos del Uruguay yarns, Maxima and Cabrito, results in a soft and fuzzy accessory with great stitch definition.
Preparing the Yarn
Before you begin, you may wonder if you should wind the Maxima and Cabrito together. Our advice is to wind each yarn separately. Take your time when winding the Cabrito, and consider winding it by hand. Trying to wind a laceweight mohair yarn too quickly can result in a messy tangle!
Cable Knitting Explained
Knitting a cable is not difficult; it is a matter of rearranging the placement of your stitches. Cables can be simple or intricate, depending on how many stitches are involved and the number of rows that are involved in the rearrangement.
Often a cable needle (or double-pointed needle) is used to assist in moving the stitches. The pattern will specify the number of stitches to be placed on the needle. That needle is then held in front of or behind the work while you knit a few more stitches, then those previously held stitches are worked from the cable needle.
How to Cable without a Cable Needle
In the Steeplejack Mitts, two stitches swap places with two stitches next to them, so you are working with four total stitches. It is possible to rearrange the cabled stitches without an extra needle or holder, thus saving some time in your knitting. Here’s how:
You’ll find that mohair, much like a wool yarn, is rather grippy or sticky, and if the stitch comes off the needle, it doesn’t immediately drop down. This is helpful in working these stitches without having to place them on a holder first.
When you reach the stitches to work the cable, slip the first two stitches off the right needle (1 & 2 shown above), and slide the right needle into the next two stitches (stitches marked 3 & 4). Stitches 1 & 2 are the ones that would be placed on a cable needle.
This step is only scary the first time you do it, we promise! Once you see that the stitches are not going anywhere, you’ll gain confidence. Feel free to pinch the fabric underneath these stitches to give yourself that sense of extra security.
Use the left needle to catch the first two stitches (1 & 2) you took off the right needle. You can slide stitches 3 & 4 from the right needle on to the left needle. These stitches are now in their new order!
Now you can knit across these stitches in their new order and continue on to finish the round.
That’s it! The cable looks exactly the same as if you had used a cable needle.
There are plenty of cables in the Steeplejack Mitts pattern on which you can practice. All of them involve crossing two stitches over another two stitches. Be mindful to catch both strands of yarn, though as we have noted before, the mohair and wool will stick together.