Knitting tips and tricks: Stopping cable stitches slipping from your cable needle

Lately a few people have said to me that they have trouble stopping stitches slipping off their cable needle. Although I know that the ‘slippiness’ of a knitting needle depends on the material it is made from, I’ve never thought about the slippiness of cable needles. Or at least I hadn’t until I travelled up country the other week.Packing my knitting before I left, I decided to take two cable needles for the Secret Sweater, just in case I lost one. When I checked my cable needle collection, I spotted amongst them a wooden cuticle shaper that had come from one of those kits you get in hotels.

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Being a  bit on the mean side, I chose the cuticle shaper, thinking that if I lost it, it wouldn’t need replacing. (Don’t ask me why I was so obsessed with losing cable needles – I have no idea.)

On the Tuesday I left, Lovely Husband dropped me at the station at 6.15am, because he’d got a meeting at 7am, that hadn’t been planned when I booked my ticket. Half asleep, I settled in the station café and took out my knitting. Still unexplainably obsessed with losing cable needles, I chose to work with the cuticle shaper. A few rows in, I realised my sleepy brain had missed twisting two of the cables.

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Being allergic to frogging, I dropped the stitches for the cable back to where they should have been twisted, twisted them then picked them back up again. This involved using both the cuticle stick and a metal cable needle. (If you’d like to know more about how to do this and how to rescue wrongly twisted cables without frogging click here.)

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As I worked, I discovered the apparently smooth cuticle shaper was relatively rough, compared with a metal cable needle, and it wasn’t easy to pick the stiches back up through the rows. Equally annoyingly, the metal needle kept slipping out of the stitches it had been assigned to hold. I  swapped them around.

Et voilà! The stitches slipped nicely from the metal cable needle as I picked them back up and the ones waiting on the cuticle shaper sat happily waiting for their turn. Very quickly my mistake had been rectified and I was ready to knit on.

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So, if you do have trouble with stitches slipping off your cable needle, I’d definitely recommend trying a wooden cuticle shaper or similar implement instead, because it wasn’t just when sorting out my twisting error that I found this increased stickiness useful. When I was finally on the train and it lurched dramatically, as trains do, my faithful little cuticle shaper stayed firmly in place inside my stitches.

Of course now I’m no longer obsessed with losing cable needles, but I am obsessed with losing my lovely cuticle shaper!

Bekki Hill

33 thoughts on “Knitting tips and tricks: Stopping cable stitches slipping from your cable needle

  1. it does make sense that a wooden cable needle would be stickier than a metal one, since the knitting needles work the same way. But I just never thought about getting a wooden one. Once again, you are a genius. 🙂

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    1. I’ve seen those, but never tried them as personally I’ve never had issues with metal straight ones unless I’m trying to rectify a messed up cable. Even LH’s driving isn’t a problem. Must be something about the way I instinctively hold my knitting – I wonder if continental or british knitting make a difference.. I primarily posted about this because so many other people said they had problems.

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  2. My cable needles aren’t straight so slippiness isn’t a problem. Mistakes, however, are. I’ve always frogged, but prefer your idea for the future and don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it myself. After all, dropped stitched can be easily picked up the same way:)

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    1. Believe it or not, some people with those bent cable needles tell me they still lose their stitches! I’m in the middle of writing a post about how to rectify cable mistakes without frogging. I very much doubt you’ll need it with your experience, but it should be up next week.

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  3. Oh my clever you retrieving the situation without frogging. My problem was not dropping the stitches of the cable needle. The first or last twisty occurred one stitch from the front edge and it was this stitch that kept falling off the main needle. I simply struggled with manipulating the large needle at the same time as the cable needle. More practice needed!

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  4. Thankyou! I read all your tips knowing that one day I will need them – my brain in a woolly sponge soaking it all up!! On your trips uop country, just wondering if you ever forget to get off and end up in Leeds. Would be good if you did! 🙂

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    1. Glad you like the tips. I’ve made a category ‘knitting tips and tricks’, so they can all be found together if you need to refer back ever. Unfortunately the up-country train stops at Waterloo or Paddington. I’ll have to work on forgetting which station to go home from and accidently go to Kings Cross. Don’t know if I’ve said before but I did live in Leeds for 10 years.

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      1. That’s a good idea Thankyou! It’s ok up north for fabric shops but I can see the attraction of living where you do, shame it’s so far tho. We’re just about 8 miles out of Leeds, I bet you don’t miss it 😯

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      2. It is a long way away, but the only rubbish thing to me is my distance from Lovely Littlest. Don’t get me wrong a long way from Lovely Eldest too and I love her and miss her too, but she’s always travelling and living in other countries, so makes little difference with her. There’s such lovely countryside where you are, you’ve got the best of both worlds. I do remember Leeds with great affection as I was so much younger then and it was such an exciting time and eldest was born there. The place I really don’t miss is Wokingham.

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  5. Resourceful, as always, Bekki. I suppose it makes sense that a wooden ‘needle’ would be less slippery than a metal one. Some woods can be highly polished, though – but evidently not your cuticle shaper. Interesting for future reference!

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