How to honeycomb cable
She’s cable-mad! Amy Kaspar’s step by step guide to Honeycomb cables!
I love cables. I can’t help it. They make just about everything knitting-related even prettier!
That said, some cables are more complicated than others, and cables do not need to be complicated to be pretty. The honeycomb cable pattern is a great stitch pattern that is fairly easy to follow, and can be added to a plain pattern with few considerations. Honeycomb stitches are either formed with cables, slipped stitches, or both elements. Here is a honeycomb stitch strictly using two-stitch cables.
Cables are usually more easily read on a chart, so here are two examples of how the stitch looks on a chart:
Honeycomb stitch is comprised of two-stitch cables, sometimes called twisted stitches, next to each other and alternating in twist direction. Cable patterns generally do not show what to do on the wrong side (chart on the right), because stitches get knitted as presented. In other words, knit the knits and purl the purls. With honeycomb cables, all cable stitches are knitted. Therefore, all stitches on the wrong side are purled.
The line on the chart that goes up and to the right is a right-twisting cable. The one that goes down and to the right is a left-twisting cable. It looks iconic, or is supposed to look like the direction the stitches will twist. The little omega-looking symbol usually indicates a slipped selvedge edge.
Grab your yarn and comparable needle size, and cast on a multiple of four stitches, plus two for the selvedge edges. Purl that first row, so you have a base for your cables other than the cast-on row.
For the first row of the pattern, slip that first stitch. Then twist the next two stitches to the left. To do this, slip the second stitch from the left-hand needle purlwise, behind the first stitch on the left-hand needle. Put that first stitch (now hanging there all by itself) back on the needle, and then that second slipped stitch back on the needle, and just knit them in their new order. This is what it looks like when you are slipping that second stitch for a left twist.
For the next two stitches, twist them to the right. Slip the second stitch on the left-hand needle by staging the right needle in front of that first stitch. Pick up the first stitch as it falls off the left needle, put the second stitch back on the left needle, and knit them in their new order. This will cause the stitches to twist to the right.
When you twist, you are basically swapping the order of the first and second stitch on the left needle, and the twist direction depends on if the first stitch from the needle rests in front of or behind the other stitch.
Repeat those four stitches – two-stitch left twist, two-stitch right twist – until you reach the last stitch in the row, and knit the last stitch. Turn your work, and you should have a series of purl bumps facing you. Remember, when you cable (and these twists are just two-stitch cables), you stitch the wrong-side row as it is presented. In other words, slip the first stitch and then purl back the entire row.
On the next right-side row, slip the first stitch and twist the stitches in the opposite direction as the previous row. Your first twist is to the right, and your second is to the left. If you ever get confused, all is well; you can see twists pretty clearly just by looking at the row below the needle. My finger is pointing to a stitch that twisted to the right, so it means I twist the two on the needle above it to the left.
The fourth row is the same as the second row, so just slip the first stitch and purl the rest of the stitches of the row. Repeating these four rows will comprise the pattern, and pretty soon, you will have columns of two-stitch twists that orient on the fabric like a honeycomb. Yes, the pattern is a bit labour-intensive, but it is certainly worth it if the goal is a pretty stitch pattern.
This stitch pattern is very dense, three-dimensional, and the definition is beautiful in almost any yarn weight. A few tidbits to keep in mind: twisted stitches suck in your gauge quite a bit, so while your row gauge will be pretty comparable, your stitch gauge can be up to a third less wide than if you were knitting in stocking stitch.
Also, cables sometimes have a teeny hole between the columns of twists. This is not generally a big deal unless you are using a lighter yarn than the suggested needle size.
Keeping the gauge issue in mind, this stitch pattern is a great addition to plain stocking stitch, either in a column up a side or front, or as a band around the middle where the a-line would start. If you accidentally twist two stitches in the wrong direction, it is relatively easy to fix by just dropping the two stitches involved in the twist and picking them back up in the correct twist direction.
Since this stitch pattern can be used with any weight yarn, and it can be broken down into two-stitch columns, you can actually add an alternating cable column to anything with an up-and-down line or a left-to-right line. If you just want a little bit of flair, you can just twist two stitches instead of four.
Honeycomb cables make up a mini-pattern that can easily be memorised, and it can easily be added to other patterns. It does not take too much practice to learn, once you get the hang of twisting stitches. Try it on some scrap yarn first, but you will be pleased.
Last updated: February 19th, 2015.