My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Increasing for Cables

I finished the back of my sweater late last week:

I have the neck and the shoulders on holders so it’s hard to smooth it out. But you can get the general idea.

So I’ve started a side front (this being a cardigan and all).

There was some discussion in my blog comments about how much you need to increase above the ribbing or bottom band to allow for how much cables will draw in the knitted fabric. My rule of thumb is to add a stitch for each cable twist. For example, I have a 4-stitch cable that is a 2 x 2 twist — I will increase 1 stitch in the last row of the ribbing to accommodate that. So 3 ribbing stitches are increased to 4. The braided cable I’m using has three 2 x 2 cable twists across. The pattern is 18 stitches across, so I will increase 3 stitches over 15 ribbing stitches.

This is a rule of thumb. If I have a cable that travels one stitch at a time — like the center zig-zag, I will increase fewer stitches, because it does not pull in as much. So for each side of the center zig-zag, I’ve increased one stitch only over the whole motif.

I do the increases in the spot where the cable twist will occur, rather than spreading them evenly across the width of the piece.

Here is the left side front. The bottom band has been completed, the increases done on the last row of the seed stitch band, and the first row of the body pattern has been completed.

As you can see, it lies pretty smooth.

Here it is after 8 rows of pattern have been done:

I can see now that my increases have worked out. It looks a little rumpled because of course it is smooshed up on the needle.

My progress on the left side front so far:

Again, because it is smooshed onto the needle it is hard to spread it out flat. But it does lie flat — the rate of increase I used is working.

Lucy sez:

“Yes, I am floofy!”


  1. I have wondered about how much to increase for cables for a long time (I have a self-designed cabled sweater swimming around in the back of my mind). Thanks for your rule of thumb!

  2. Lynda Hitt says:

    As always, your knitting is gorgeous. I want to be you when I grow up, or at least knit like you.

  3. The cable work is dazzling, really beautiful! I had no idea that’s how to do increases for cables. I hope you do a cable book someday – it will become a classic!

  4. Thank you for sharing your thinking and methods for increasing to accomodate cable pull in. This was a great post and I concur with Gail. You should do a cable book!

  5. Wow, looking good so far! You are way fast.

  6. hawknitr13 says:

    thanks so much for educating us… it’s the icing on the cake of our quest to be better knitters!
    ^)^ linda

  7. This works great on smaller cable motifs, but you might want to inc a little more in a bulkier cable. If memory serves, I think Barbara Walker recommends increasing 1/3 of the sts to be used in a given cable as a rule of thumb. So 1 st for a 2×2 cable is perfect. But over, say, a 4×4 cable, even if there’s only one twist, you might need to inc 2, maybe even 3 sts to keep your border lying flat. Over a giant 8×8 cable, you might evenly inc 5 over 11 rib sts, or even 6 over 10, to get to 16sts. Here’s a case where swatching is our friend!! Gorgeous work, Wendy, as usual! I’m in awe of both your productivity and your creativity.

  8. This is really stunning! I love the small, detailed cables on such a large piece.
    Susan´s last blog post ..The Before and After – Featuring Feelings and Emotions

  9. Beautiful! And I love the word “floofy”;O))

  10. I often envy my kittehs’ floof, especially this time of year! Imagine yourself constantly “dressed” in a fine fur coat….
    I’m in the planning stage for a cabled cardigan for the Plaidman, so your discussion of the increases you’ve used is mighty handy. Your cabled sweater is looking great!
    CeltChick´s last blog post ..Picture Time — check yer cowlick, honey