Yarn Hacks: Cable Knitting without a Cable Needle!

Cables are a wonderful knitting technique. They add interest, beauty, and warmth to projects. There’s nothing quite like a gorgeous cabled aran sweater to cozy up in on a cold and dreary day. Unfortunately, cable needles, like tapestry needles, can fall into strange couch vortexes ne’er to be seen again. Not to mention owning cable needles in lots of needle sizes can make them a little difficult to keep track of. Never fear, Yarn Hacks is here again with a tip on cabling without a cable needle!

You can basically use anything that is smooth, roundish, and a similar size to the needles with which you are knitting to create cables. In this Hacks video, the stars are a toothpick, a bobby pin, a coloring pencil, and a stick (yes, that last one is a bit tongue-in-cheek!). You just use these options in the exact same way you’d use a cable needle: work up to your cable pattern, place the cable stitches on the object, move the stitches to the front or the back (depending on the cable pattern), work the following stitches, replace the cable stitches and then work those. That’s all there is to it!

Another option, if you’re out of cable needles and can’t find anything suitable around you to use, is just to pinch the stitches! It’s a little terrifying at first, but once you try it a few times you’ll be glad you don’t have to fiddle with anything. When you get to the cable pattern, slide the cable stitches off the left needle, pinch them well (and put to the front or back as usual), work the following stitches, replace the pinched stitches, and then work them. Voila! It’s very simple.

What are some items you’ve improvised to use as a replacement cable needle? Share your weirdest ideas!

Happy cable knitting!

—Louisa & Hannah

Cables for All My Friends!



  1. Nadine F at 8:38 am March 6, 2017

    For small cables, I don’t use a cable needle at all. If I feel the need for a cable needle, locking stitch markers are your friend. they are small, curved just right to hang on to the stitches and can be locked mid cable if emergency requires. The little bit larger ones stay open better than the little 1/2 inch ones.

  2. Dara H at 8:45 am March 6, 2017

    A friend of mine taught me how to cable with a stir straw from a cup of coffee. I also crochet, so if I have my hooks handy I’ll use the matching one of them.

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