Monday, July 21, 2014

Cable Needle Alternatives

I have some cable needles somewhere amongst my myriad of tools, but I never use them. I'm not even sure where they are. (Ok, I'll dig them out for this article.) I'm one of those knitters that will grab anything that works as the tool that I need. I also don't like carrying extra tools when I can reuse another tool to perform the same purpose. (You can also cable without a cable needle. There are many tutorials on the web which cover these techniques. I won't be discussing those techniques here.)

Removable Markers

This is my favorite cable needle alternative. I use these for so many things that I always have some in my kit. You can't easily knit off of the marker, so I just put the stitches back on the needle to knit them.

Tapestry Needles

I used a tapestry needle in Knitting Smocked or Wrapped Stitches. Tapestry needles come in steel, plastic and aluminum in different sizes. Be careful with the steel needles as they can be slippery.

Double Point Needles

Typical double point needles can be used in a pinch, but they are long and can get in the way. Sock length double points are shorter and may work better.

Stitch Holders

I never carry these, but they can be be used like a cable needle.

Short Length Circular Needles

If you use short length circular needles (9" for example), you can use them to hold cable stitches.

Interchangeable Needle Tips

These can be heavy and slippery, but in a pinch they will do the job.

Crochet Hooks

Aluminum crochet hooks are nice and light and can be used to hold your stitches. You can't easily knit from the crochet hook, so just put the stitches back on the needle.

Paper Clip

Paper clips are universal tools. How many times have you grabbed a paper clip, bent it open and used it as a tool? Same for knitting. Just bend it open. If you like the hook type of cable needle, then a paper clip will work well. Just bend it into shape.

Bobby Pins, Hair Pins

Hair pins have a nice "U" shape. Bobby pins can be used just the way they are or bent open. (I don't have any hair pins, so only bobby pins are shown in the photo.)


Toothpicks are rough, but it will still work as a cable needle. Just be careful not to snag your knitting.


Along the vein of the paper clip, you can use a piece of wire as a cable needle. You can shape the wire to your preferred shape. You may want to round the ends with a file.


If you are knitting on large needles pencils will work. Just be careful of the lead if you are knitting a light color.


If you are handy, you can create your own cable needle out of dowels.

Other Oddities

Twist ties, zip ties, straws....

Ok, I'm starting to go off the deep end here. Once I let my brain loose, I can't stop. For cables, all you really need is something to hold the stitches as the stitches can be returned to the needle for working.

So, next time you don't have the tool you need, look around. There are many every day objects that can be repurposed or used in a pinch.

Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits..

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