But wait…what’s the difference between a regular cable pattern and a reversible cable pattern? Well, one has a more attractive backside – and I love a cute backside! Or, if bum references leave you cold, let’s just say a reversible cable has a wrong side so pretty, it’s right!
(If you prefer, you can skip the intro and go directly to the how-to instructions and video below.)
What makes a reversible cable reversible?
Reversible cables are just like regular cables, except (spoiler alert: it’s in the name!) they are reversible, by which we mean that that both sides of the work have an attractive cabled pattern.
Loads of knitters and designers (myself included) LOVE cables. All you need to do is knit a stitch or three out of order to create these beautiful, high-relief, linear and textural patterns. BUT (and this post is all about the but!) the back side of cabled fabric often doesn’t compare to the beauty of the front. On a sweater or a hat, this is generally irrelevant, as we are accustomed to these pieces having a ‘right side’ and a ‘wrong side’. But for two-sided things like scarves, shawls, cowls, and blankets, it’s ideal if both sides of the fabric are attractive.
Here are a couple examples of how regular and reversible cables differ.
When I discovered reversible cables, my designer’s mind said YES! They are everything I love about cables without the downsides. In fact, they’re doubly delicious because each side has a different character, creating two ‘moods’ within a single piece of knitting.
How to knit reversible cables
Reversible cables are just the same as regular cable turns, except they are worked over a ribbed stitch pattern. The following example is the 8-stitch turn that forms the cable panel used in both the Nest sweater and the Peregrine shawl:
c8f-rib – slip 4 sts to a cable needle and hold in front of work, k1, p2, k1 from the left-hand needle, k1, p2, k1 from the cable needle.
On the ‘right’ side of the work, [k1, p2, k1] is twisted over another [k1, p2, k1]. On the back side of the same piece, the same turn appears as [p1, k2, p1] twisted over another [p1, k2, p1].
Essentially, reversible cables are not AT ALL different from regular cable patterns, except that the stitches you knit out of order will include both knits and purls. These are VERY simple cable turns. They are VERY simple to work, but the resulting fabric looks devilishly complex! Do you agree?.
But why is it reversible?
Because both the ‘right side’ and the ‘wrong side’ include knit stitches that form vertical twisting lines, the legibility of the cable turns are visible on both sides of the work, and we recognize the ‘cable pattern’ on both sides.
Great applications for reversible cables
Anything that is visible on both sides, like shawls, blankets, and scarves, would be a GREAT project for using a reversible cable stitch panel or all-over pattern.
Hats and cowls are lovely, too! Check out the Oleander reversible hat and Oleander cowl by Laura Chau, a pattern designer who is also part of our tech editing team.
Check out Lazy Sunday, our new cable collection!
Our new Lazy Sunday cable collection is full of cushy, cozy, satisfying cables! If you’re just getting started with cables, there are several simple, approachable sweaters and accessories. And for the more adventurous or experienced there are all-over cable and textured garments, all inclusively sized, from baby-to-big!
September 27, 2022 @ 9:33 am
Love, love, love these cables which look gorgeous both ways. Thanks for teaching us a wonderful technique & the gorgeous patterns:)