Knitting cables without a cable needle?

We are often asked is it possible to knit cables without a cable needle in miniature? Miniature Aran knitting is extremely addictive, but many people are put off by the idea that this requires a cable needle. This question is generally posed by people who are used to knitting cables in full size and adopt the method of slipping the stitches to be cabled off the needle so they hang loose.
So we have designed a pattern for an Aran jumper which does not require a cable needle: see this page

miniature knitting
© F H Powell 2014

Using a cable needle in miniature knitting
However our advice is that when knitting cables in miniature it is usually best to use a cable needle. Twisting stitches (for example knitting into the back or front of the second stitch and then knitting into the first stitch) does work well in miniature. However cabling by dropping stitches and trying to pick them up is not recommended, even with a magnifier.

Substitutions for miniature cable needles

tapestry needles
© F H Powell 2017

One of the best substitutes for a miniature cable needle is a tapestry needle, these come in the same sizes as most miniature knitting needles from size 18 down to a size 24. Tapestry needles are often sold in mixed packs giving a range of sizes. These sizes correspond to the old UK sizes which can be found here
Other needles may work in an emergency, but are liable to split yarns if they have very sharp points.
If you have double pointed needles either the same size as those you are using or slightly smaller, these can be utilised as a cable needle, after all a cable needle is essentially a shortened version of a double pointed needle.
Safety pins can also be used, but these can be tricky when transferring stitches back to the needle when completing the cable and are often very sharp!

miniature cable needle
© F H Powell 2014

If you wish to buy a specialist cable needle (such as the one shown above), then we can offer a range of sizes of hand crafted miniature cable needles on our web shop, with or without a crook in the centre. The crook helps to stop the stitches sliding off the cable needle, but this is all down to personal preference.