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Mothers and osmosis

(And if you think that this post was inspired by a post about woolly ramen noodles, you're right! Except that this post is more about cables.
teeny cable sampler

My grandmother was a knitter. So is my mother, although to a lesser extent. One or both of them taught me to knit when I was a child.

My grandmother, apparently, knit continental (picking). My mother knits English (throwing). I have no idea how I was taught to knit, but when I restarted knitting some months ago, I decided to use English.

This is fine, except... My mother uses the pencil hold. I use the knife hold.

So "monkey see, monkey do" didn't apply in my case!

And it applies to more than just styles. As I believe I mentioned in an earlier post, I can't remember what I've learned and what I haven't. And that can lead to great discoveries. My grandmother used to put cables in her sweaters. I knew this because I saw the sweaters, but I never saw any cable needles. A few months ago, my mother showed me how to make a right-crossing cable on a knit row. In other words, a C4B cable, without actually holding a cable needle to the back.

By the way, there is no great mystery here, I'm afraid. Basically, you don't work the first stitch (or first two stitches or whatever), and start with the 2nd (or 3rd or whatever) stitch. Knit that stitch (or two, or whatever), then go back to knit the stitches you skipped, dropping them off the needle at that point.

My basic knitting book (Reader's Digest's Complete guide to needlework says that you can cross one stitch over another without using a cable needle, but once you get into crosses that involve more than 3 stitches, a cable needle is needed. My mother's (and grandmother's) experience is that you need a cable needle only when your crosses involve more than 6 stitches. And considering that I was able to make a respectable C4B cable first time out using cotton (can you say "glutton for punishment"?), I think I'll trust Mom and Gunna before the good editors at Reader's Digest!

(Seriously, though, the RD book is a good one. But it's like any cookbook. There are many ways to do different things, and if someone can show you another way that also gets good results, go for it!)

Well, I experimented a bit, and figured out how to get the cables to cross in the other direction ("C4F" - cable crossing from upper left to lower right), and how to get them to make a left crossing on a purl row. I got stuck on the right-crossing cable on the purl row, and figured I'd ask my mother about them. (Hey, if I was clueless enough not to osmose a C4B cable from the air around my mother and grandmother, it was entirely likely that I'd missed something obvious about cabling on a purl row.)

She had no idea what I was talking about. Didn't think it was possible.

I was on my own.

And the results:
It's possible!

If you can't see what I've done, it's not all that impressive, cable-wise. The basic pattern is:
Cast on 16
Row 1: k3 p1 k8 p1 k3
Row 2: p3 k1 p8 k1 p3
Row 3: k3 p1 C4B C4B p1 k3 (=two right slanting cables on a knit row)
Row 4: p3 k1 p8 k1 p3
Row 5: k3 p1 k8 p1 k3
Row 6: p3 k1 p2 C4F p2 k1 p3 (=one left slanting cable on a purl row)
Rows 7-12: Repeat rows 1-6
Rows 13-15: Repeat rows 1-3
Row 16: p3 k1 p8 k1 p3
Row 17: k3 p1 k8 p1 k3
Row 18: p3 k1 p8 k1 p3
Row 19: k3 p1 C4F C4F p1 k3 (=two left slanting cables on a knit row)
Row 20: p3 k1 p8 k1 p3
Row 21: k3 p1 k8 p1 k3
Row 22: p3 k1 p2 C4B p2 k1 p3 (=one right slanting cable on a purl row)
Rows 23-28: Repeat rows 17-22
Rows 29-32: Repeat rows 17-20
Bind off

Something like that, anyway. Every row that had two cables was done on a knit row. The single twists were all done on purl rows. Nothing was done with anything that remotely looked like a cable needle.

And the quirky thing was... It was easier for me to purl a right-slanting cable than to knit (or purl) a left-slanting cable. Right-slanting cables need no preparation, but the way I was doing left-slanting cables, it worked better if the leading edge of the stitch was at the back of the needle, rather than the front. So I had to remember to wrap those stitches in the other direction when I knitted (or purled) them in the previous row.

In other news, it's late Friday afternoon (well, 4:30pm, anyway). Last day of my week-long vacation, and I haven't done a darn thing about assembling any blankets. The squares for both Sunset Rain and Border Collie are sitting neatly, patiently on my coffee table.

I should work on them. Especially since I want to hand the Sunset Rain blanket over on Thanksgiving, and that's.... 20 days away. Erk.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 4th, 2005 10:25 pm (UTC)
yes, strangely enough, I only read about the 'knitting cables without a cable needle' recently. I've used some pretty strange cable *needles* in my time. Anything that comes to hand virtually - match, hairclip, anything with two ends really.

My Mum tried to teach me to knit 'her' way, and I can't handle it. I guess I sort of use the 'knife hold' too. Though I do let the right hand needle go when I throw the wool.Mum (used to) hold the needles under her arms and just uses the fingertips. Her knitting is much tighter than mine, and even too. If I use inferior wool, the unevenness(that word doesn't look right) is more evident.
I did a lot of Aran patterns in my teens and twenties(I'd make 'em up myself) which involved a lot of cabling. It made for thicker, warmer jumpers. A bugger to wash and dry though.!
Nov. 6th, 2005 12:39 am (UTC)
Re: *grin*
Yep! From one popular style of cable needle, I would guess that a lot of our foremothers used spare hairpins. (The other style may have come from recycling a bent dpn, but that's pure guesswork.)

Needles under the arms. That's one style I would never come up with on my own, just because I learned to knit on dpns. (Elastic bands around the non-working ends to keep the stitches from sliding off.) So they just weren't long enough to stick under my arms.

Aran patterns... I love the look of those. Unfortunately, I don't really wear sweaters. Knit tops, yes, sweaters, no. So I would have to commit to something larger. Like a blanket. And that would be a monster to wash and dry!
Nov. 5th, 2005 06:31 am (UTC)
Hm. Apparently, I knit 'English style'. I don't trap the needles under my arms though, and I definitely don't hold the yarn in any of the ways I saw diagrammed in those links...
Nov. 6th, 2005 12:45 am (UTC)
Yarn holding...
I think I'm frightened. I finally looked at the way I hold my yarn, and it's a little scary. As in "courting severe hand pain" scary.

My way of holding the yarn for crochet is not one I've seen in any book, but it's a fairly neutral hand position, and it works for me. The knitting one, though... I've got a deathgrip on the yarn with my pinky, and the other fingers are none too relaxed either.

I think I need to work on that!
Nov. 6th, 2005 03:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Yarn holding...
deathgrip ... on yarn, needles, fingers ... used to do that when there was a chance I might end up with a kitten or catling trying to steal this obvious cattoy.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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