Cable Question

Hi All,
It’s been a long time. Getting back to knitting and will be posting pics again soon.
I have a rather simple question that hopefully someone can answer. I am doing a reversible cable patterned scarf, and the directions say to use two different sizes of needles.
For instance:
You do four rows using the smaller needles.
Then for the cable row, you change to two size larger needles and do the cable row.
Then you change back to the smaller ones and repeat.
I have tried this and I don’t understand why? The row where I use the larger needles you can see a little gap. And when you cable onto the larger needles it’s SUPER tight. I actually broke the yarn trying to do my first cable, it was so tight.
So, my question is, what is the purpose of the larger needles and if I wanted to, can I just use the same sized needles throughout?
Here is what I have so far, and I think that I am going to rip it out and start over.
The yarn that I am using is Noro Silk Garden Colorway 270.
This company has some of the most amazing colors and the striping is great.
Thanks for your help!

I have never heard of doing that. I wonder if the “purpose” is to make sure the cable twist isn’t too tight, so the cable flows nicely. But my guess is that unless you are a “tight” knitter it wouldn’t be necessary.

Hi Ginny,
I thought the same thing as well. Due to the fact that it’s a reversible cable and the tightness/bump may show through on each side. I guess what I might do is maybe use the next size needle instead of two size larger. Also I am using #8 for the smaller and #10 for the larger and from 8 to 10 is a pretty big jump instead of say #7 to #9.
Thanks for your help!

I’ve done Silver’s Palindrome scarf, which is a reversible cable, and it doesn’t change needles (from what I can remember). So I’d say give it a try without changing and see what it looks like.

That’s too funny. I am working on that as we speak too. And you don’t have to change needle sizes. Maybe it because you still have a rib inbetween each of the cables where this pattern that I am working on has just cables and purl after the cable and no rib inbetween. Maybe I am just talking out of my bootie since I don’t know what it really is. Would love to hear from anyone else out there with their thoughts and ideas.
And I don’t see the reason behind using larger needles for the cables, because the Palindrome is coming out very nice. It’s a little narrower due to I am using DK weight, but it was going to be a hat that turned into a scarf. I should have added an extra repeat, but I am going to make it extra long for the person that I am knitting it for.
Thanks again!

I have never, ever seen a pattern that has you change needles for the cables.:??

That’s a new one on me, too. I’ve never seen a cable pattern that had you switch needle sizes.

Curious where you got the pattern - is it free on the web somewhere we can see it?

I am using a pattern from Cables Untangled by Melissa Leapman.

And that is the first that I heard of changing needle sizes as well. I do believe what Ginny said is to make the twist not so tight and bumpy on the reverse side, and since it is a reversible scarf the purl sides may have a smoother apperance. But, once again, that’s just Ginny and I. :slight_smile:
Any other comments please?

That’s really goofy… How about using the needle size in between the 2 for all of the pattern? That might eliminate any tightness from the smaller needle as well as the looseness of the bigger one.

'Tis weird. I’m doing a rev cable afghan and using same sz ndl throughout. I’ve done certain st patts that call for alternating ndl sizes to achieve a certain effect but not with cabling.


I expect they change needles sizes so the cables don’t pull in so much. I think I’d pick one size needle to use on the whole scarf. Or if you feel you must, just go up one needle size. Any more then that you’ll be struggling too much to even knit from the smaller needle to the larger, I don’t want to think how hard the crossing stitches will be!

It’s such an unusual thing to do - in the book is there a written paragraph or two about the scarf? do they discuss why they change sizes? No tips how to make the crossing doable, let alone easier? I think if I designed a cable that way, I’d make a comment about why I did it. In any case, it must be so the cables aren’t pulled in too much - that’s the only reason I can think of to do it.

Thanks all for the great advice. I think that we all agree that it is because of the pulling of the cables and make them appear looser.
There was nothing in the book about why the needle size change, that is why it baffled me and why I wrote to the great group of people here.
I am going to try and do a swatch on single needle, then one size larger and see what the difference is. I’ll try and get back to the group and let you know what my outcome is.
And Mirl56, changing from smaller to larger to do the cable row is so hard and tight, as I said in my post, I broke the yarn the first time around. But managed to be a little more careful after that. But it’s hard enough to stitch through a cable with the same size needles, let alone needles two sizes larger.
Thanks again!

Cables should be loose anyway, so you may be better using the larger needles.