Cable splay

I’m no knitting mastermind, but I do feel I have a solid grasp of the craft, moreso than sewing. I’ve been knitting since I was 14 years old, and am confident that I can interpret most patterns in a way that suits me. So when I come across a knitting conundrum I’m always eager to learn more.

My latest knit is a cabled jumper. The cable chart and general idea are adapted from Calista Yoo’s Ashwood (Knitty Winter ’16), and I’ve worked out a pattern base to suit my preference for working top-down in the round in 8ply yarn* (the original pattern called for 12ply). Eventually, it should be a long sleeve, drop shoulder jumper with straight body and plain ribbed neckband.

A woman wears a cabled handknit purple jumper-top with drop shoulder, short cut-on sleeves, thick cowl neck and curved hem.
Ashwood, from Knitty Winter ’16.
A woman sits on a fence, wearing a cabled handknit purple jumper-top with drop shoulder, short cut-on sleeves, thick cowl neck and curved hem.
Ashwood, from Knitty Winter ’16. I just can’t with how nice this pattern is. Look at that curved hem!

 

Right now, I’m working the bodice to the underarm (first back, then pick up front shoulders and work down), and the neckline is posing a challenge. When I cast on the neck then worked down, the neckline flared out from the cable pattern, creating a wobbly edge from which it would be impossible to knit a neat neckband.

Partially knit front bodice laid flat. The burgundy bodice is stockinette with a centred, intricate cabled chart. At the neckline cast on, the fabric above the cables flares and ripples.
Yarn is KnitPicks City Tweed DK.

The knitting brains trust on Instagram informed me this was due to cable splay. I’ve included some articles about it below, but essentially the fabric of a cabled knit draws in and out. The flared neckline is the fabric stretching out after a drawn-in cable twist.

I was offered two suggestions for a fix:

1. Calculate the number of neck cast on stitches in the cabled gauge, then stockinette gauge. Cast on the number required in stockinette, then rapidly increase to the number required in the cable gauge. For me, this would mean 36 cable sts – 23 stockinette sts = 13 sts difference by gauge.

2. A simpler alternative is to cast on 1 fewer stitch for every stitch crossed in a cable. Eg, if you have 2 of 2×2 cables, you cast on 4 fewer stitches. I have 3 of 3×3 cables, so would cast on 9 fewer stitches.

A cable pattern knitting chart.
The neck cast-on section of the modified Ashwood cable chart. I left a few blank rows of knits/purls after the cast on row (directly above red line) as I feel cables right after a CO can be distorting in themselves. I would cast on fewer stitches then increase in the stockinette sections in the WS row following CO.

 

I think I might start with option 2., Just because it requires less drastic increases. I assume the increases need to be in the knit sections to become cable twists, so will increase 3 sets of 3 knit stitches to 3 sets of 6 knit stitches. If it doesn’t work out, I can always rip back and try option 1.

Have you had any experience with cable splay? Or any suggestions for my cable conundrum?

 

Further reading:

Cable Splay Demystified, from Impeccable Knits

Combating Knitted Cable Flare, from Interweave Knits

 

*I actually quite enjoy working with 12ply yarn, but 8ply was what I had on hand.

Author: Siobhan S

20 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic feminist and disability advocate.

13 thoughts on “Cable splay”

  1. I haven’t encountered this, which is strange given that I’m a loose knitter! Mind you, I tend to knit bottom up so this wouldn’t really have a chance to happen on a bind off edge. I think the second approach sounds more sensible in every way and thanks for providing info about how one can manage this knitting mini-crisis,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of those commenting on Instagram said she decreases above cables for a cast-off edge. So I guess it’s necessary sometimes? I agree that the simple approach may be the better.

      Like

  2. This is such a cute design. I’d never even heard of ‘cable splay’ before – good luck with finishing it off, I hope you manage to work out the best fix for it without too much hassle πŸ™‚
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

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