Reversible Traveling Cables

I am drawing up a pattern for a cable knit blanket I want to make, and have been looking up ways to make it reversible. I found the perfect method, something that may have been invented by Lucy Hague (, and I managed to stumble into a tutorial for moving the cable over the background stitches (~1:21:00 in the vid., which works fantastically, but I can’t quite figure out the cables crossing themselves, my attempts have been weird.

Presumably, the Bain Scarf pattern she mentions in her blog post would teach this, but I don’t want to buy a whole pattern just to learn how to do one stitch, you know? Can anyone point me to some video of her, or someone else, demonstrating that cabling technique, or a written description of it?

This is such a good idea for a blanket or scarf. There are a couple of free patterns on Ravelry that may help with the crosses.

You can search for free reversible cable and find many more.

Unfortunately, neither of those work, at least as I have tried them. Using ribs to make reversible cables works great for twists and braids, but then traveling ones have the background go weird on one side. I want to be able to make a cable like this, but reversible. cables-aran-chart

Ah yes, I see the problem. There’s the technique which you’ve already posted above. I haven’t tried myself but it looks promising. I may be able to try crossing the cables and see what gives. I’ll let you know if a light bulb goes on!
In the end, the price of the scarf may well be worth it.

What I think might work is doing the Hague technique for traveling, and then just treating the K2S2 section as a 4 wide cable for twists. I have tried that, but it was very tight (probably not helped by me being a rather tight knitter), since essentially it is now trying to be 4 times as thick on that point. I ended up with this (ignore the one cable that I pulled the needle to the front instead of the back), which looks at least mostly right, but was hoping maybe someone has the proper way to do it, if at all exists. Or maybe plan in more resting rows?

That looks pretty good. Is it possible to work a yarn over or two on the previous row to give you a bit more yarn for the cross? You would drop the yarn over on the cable cross row.

I don’t know whether it’s feasible with the design that you are attempting, which is beyond my cabling experience, but I recently found that one of the methods of “cabling without a cable needle” introduces a little slack into the cable crosses. This might help with the tightness.

It’s described as “method 2” in this video by Suzanne Bryan:

I look forward to seeing your project. I do admire people who experiment and chase down interesting techniques – mind you, I also love a garter dish cloth! Knitting has so many facets from practical to intellectual.

1 Like

This doesn’t show traveling cables, but Roxanne Richardson does a great job of explaining what makes reversible cables work. Might be helpful?

1 Like

I did end up just buying the Bain scarf pattern, and reading how it is done for her big celtic knot pattern. While it seems complicated, I figured it would be nice to share the basic crossings, in case someone else finds the thread and wants the technique, with the hope that expanding into others is intuitive. (As for getting these done right in intarsia, as was my original plan for learning the technique, that may need work.)

Basic Idea

Instead of X-wide cables being simply kX on a a reverse stockinette background, an X-wide cable becomes kX, sX wyif, on a reverse garter background. As you move along, the paired knits and slips tend to draw together as a double layer. Crossings also take more rows to be done, with traveling over the background taking 2 rows and over another cable taking 4.


When traveling over the background, on side 1, you have to pass the background stitches between the kX, sX set, and then on side 2, move the background again to complete the crossing. For example,

2 wide cable left 1
CO 8 stitches, (2 background on each side)
Setup rows: p2, k2,s2 wyif, p2
Repeat the setup for however long is desired, this just makes the cable go straight up the work.
Row 1: p2, s2 to cn-front, s2 wyif, p1, k2 from cn, p1
Row 2: p1, k2, s1 to cn-front, s2 wyif, p1 from cn, p2

Cable Crosses

When crossing the cables over each other it is more complicated. Starting with them right next to each other, i.e. kX, sX wyif, kX, sX wyif on the previous row. Row 1, twist the central 2X stitches. Row 2 and 3, twist the first set of 2X stitches on that side, and Row 4, twist the central ones again, all the while minding the facing of the twisting. For example,

2 wide over 2 wide, Right Passing
CO 12 stitches (2 background on each side)
Setup rows: p2, k2, s2 wyif, k2, s2 wyif, p2
Row 1: p2, k2, s2 to cn-Back, k2, s2 wyif from cn, s2 wyif, p2
Row 3&4: p2, s2 to cn-Back, k2, k2 from cn, s4, p2
Row 4: p2, k2, s2 to cn-Front, s2 wyif, k2 from cn, s2 wyif, p2.

On these while learning, I would recommend grabbing some stitch markers or paper, and doing the swaps just on the table to get a feel of what is wanted, because when your stitches are all the sane color and a bit hard to read, it is easy to get lost.