Cables do look impressive, but cables are actually pretty easy. Let's keep that secret from the non-knitting crowd. It is fun to watch people oooh and ahhh when looking at a cable sweater. A reaction of awe when you tell people you knit that hat or sweater will definitely give your ego a boost. No need to let them know that cables are one of the easier techniques in the knitting world! We can just keep that juicy morsel of knowledge amongst us knitters. No one needs to be the wiser.
What?? You are a knitter who doesn't do cables? It is time to get you started so that you can feel the glory of wearing a cabled sweater or hat. When people ask if you made it, you can nonchalantly say yes. They will marvel at your knitting prowess.
Cables are usually, but not always, worked over an even number of stitches, like 4, 6 or 8 stitches. They are generally only worked on specific rows, and that is often 2 more rows than the number of stitches in the cable. So, on a 4 stitch cable, you would only work the cable pattern every 6 rows, or on a 6 stitch cable, you would only work the cable pattern every 8 rows. These are not hard and fast rules, but most of the time, that is what you will find. The rows in between the cables are like rest rows. You will just knit or purl, working the stitches as they are presented. That means if you see a knit stitch in the previous row, you will knit that stitch. If you see a purl stitch in the previous row, you will purl that stitch.
The abbreviations for cables do vary, so you should always read the abbreviations in the pattern to make sure you are working the cable correctly. There are a few generalities that I will go over now.
C6B C means cable, 6 means the TOTAL number of stitches in the cable, B means Back (F means Front).
To work C6B - Slip the first 3 (half of 6) stitches onto the cable needle, and hold in the Back of your work. Knit the next 3 stitches on the knitting needle, then knit the 3 stitches on the cable needle. The C6B is complete! Whenever you hold the first 3 stitches to the back, the cable will twist to the right.
To work C6F- Slip the first 3 stitches onto the cable needle, and hold in Front of your work. Knit the next 3 stitches on the knitting needle, then knit the 3 stitches on the cable needle. Now you have a C6F. Since the 3 stitches were held to the front, the cable will twist to the left.
Here is a short video that will demonstrate how to knit cables.
Please let me know if you have any questions, I am here to help.