I've always admired knitted cables, although because they look so complex I figured that they would be really hard to do. Since cables were first on my list of knitting skills to learn this year, I chose a pattern that looked pretty straightforward and didn't involve a lot of yarn. It's called the Sulka Scarfette, and you can download the pdf file for free here from Babetta's Yarn Cafe, where it appeared on the last page of a 2009 newsletter.
Once I got going, I was thrilled to see an actual cable emerging from my needles. So thrilled, in fact, that I didn't notice that little mistake (some purl stitches where some knit stitches were supposed to appear, up at the top of the first photo) until after I snapped the picture.
To make a cable, I found out, you simply slip some stitches off the knitting needle and onto a cable needle. Then, in this case, the cable needle with those stitches is held in the front of your work while you knit some of the next stitches that are still on the needle. Then you knit the stitches you have been holding on the cable needle, and continue knitting the rest of the row. That's it! You put that little cable needle down where the cat can't get it, and you won't need it in this pattern for another seven rows.
Now, I've only made this one kind of very simple cable, but I felt very successful about it. The completed scarfette makes a very cosy addition on a chilly day. You can wear it over a sweater or under a jacket for some extra warmth.
I used size 10 needles and some yarn given to me called Scheepjes Luzern Tweed, a wool/acrylic/viscose blend made in Holland. I'm not even sure that it is still being made, as a quick search showed that it mostly appears in "stuff from my mother's stash" type of ads on eBay. The project took less than a 50 gram/90 meter skein.
I've just ordered some lovely merino/alpaca/donegal tweed yarn called City Tweed Aran from Knit Picks so that I can make a couple more of these simple little scarfettes. I'll let you know how those turn out.