Crochet Cables

This morning The Animator's Wife was up bright and early to conduct a private lesson on broomstick lace. The beauty of private lessons, of course, is that they can be tailored exactly to fit a student's needs. For example, this morning's student requested a lesson in broomstick lace because she was having trouble with Kristin Omdahl's Cables and Lace Broomstick Hat pattern. Since the pattern uses two distinctly different crochet techniques, what began as a simple broomstick lace lesson ended up including a quick primer on crochet cables. You don't often get that kind of customization in a group class setting!

We already have several tutorials on broomstick lace (see our Tutorials page), however we haven't had any tutorials on crochet cables before today. Believe it or not, we were already planning our crochet cables tutorial before it came up in class today. It's recently become a very popular technique, and we feel a tutorial has been long overdue on this blog.

Crochet cables were inspired by the look of knitted cables--those twisted, rope-like designs seen in so many sweaters and hats. In crochet, they are created with the use of front-post and back-post stitches that cross over each other to impart that rope-like look. There are many variations of the technique, depending on what pattern you are following, but this tutorial will give you the basic idea.

1. Begin with a foundation row of however many double crochets you want or are indicated in the pattern.

2. When you are ready to start your cable, yarn over twice.

3. Skip the next 3 dc and insert the hook from front to back to front around the post of the 4th stitch to start a front-post treble crochet. Note: If you have never done a front-post stitch before, please see this post as a primer. Also, our example cable will be worked over 6 dc, but your pattern may differ, so pay attention to the stitch count in your pattern.

4. Yarn over and pull a loop through the post of the stitch you just went under, then complete your treble crochet as usual. See how that stitch slants over the 3 stitches you skipped?

5. Repeat Steps 2-4 for each of the next 2 stitches. You should now have 3 front-post treble crochets (fptr) slanting to the right.

6. Yarn over twice again, and this time you are going to insert the hook from front to back to front around the post of the first dc that you skipped in Step 3.

7. Complete the fptr the same way you did in Step 4. Notice that this stitch slants to the left.

8. Repeat steps 6 & 7 for the second and third skipped dc, in that order. You should now have 3 fptr that cross over the first 3 fptr, slanting to left.

Congratulations! You've just finished the first row of a crochet cable. The second row is a bit tricky, so pay attention.

9. On the second row, work regular dc (unless otherwise indicated by your pattern) until you get to your first fptr from the previous row. Note: It helps if you stretch the cable stitches out at this point so you can see them clearly, as in the photo above.

10. Yarn over twice.

11. This time you're going to insert your hook from back to front to back around the post of the first fptr. This is how you start a back-post stitch. No skipping stitches on this row; just work them in the order you encounter them.

12. Complete your treble crochet as usual.

13. Repeat Steps 10-12 for each remaining fptr in the row below. Again, in this row, you are working the stitches in the order you encounter them. No skipping stitches or doubling back! When you are done, you should see a ridge at the base of the back-post stitches. This indicates the back side of the work.

14. When you flip the work over, you will see the start of a lovely cable.

15. Repeat the entire process from Step 2-13 as many times as you like and watch those cables grow!

Tip for Working with Cable Patterns: The stitch count is usually the most confusing thing about trying to read a cable pattern. If you find yourself getting frustrated, just take a deep breath and take it one stitch at a time. Always count your stitches from right to left. And sometimes it helps to see which stitch is next by looking at the stitches from the top down so that you can see the "braid," like in this Crochet 101 post.