Can I make a confession? I am not a natural cable knitter. I enjoy knitting cables well enough, but I don’t love it. I do love knitting colourwork, openwork, and other kinds of knitted texture because the movement of yarn and needles feels completely natural to me. That’s not the case with cables, and it’s a kind of knitting in which I’ve always found it difficult to find my flow. I have wondered from time to time whether this is something to do with my stroke (since the dexterity of my left hand remains impaired) but I manage well enough with other knitterly techniques, and see no reason why my dexterity would only become a problem with a single, particular style of knitting. Whatever it is, I have never quite mastered the jiggery-pokery of cabling without a cable needle, and there’s just something about that brief pause of moving a stitch (or groups of stitches) behind, or in front of my work that disrupts my knitting rhythm. I’m sure if I exclusively devoted myself to cables and travelling stitches for a while that the mysterious flow would eventually find me, but it has, for a long time proved elusive.

But then I discovered Norah Gaughan’s Twisted Stitch Sourcebook.

As I said in my previous post, the twisting method used for the stitch patterns in this book is much more akin to the action of decreasing or increasing than it is to cabling. This method of creating texture is one I’d enjoyed previously (when swatching simple, repetitive motifs) but I’d certainly never considered the technique’s potential for creating fabrics of the gloriously varied and deeply appealing type that Norah explores so adroitly in her book.

Cropped Cardi from Norah Gaughan’s Twisted Stitch Sourcebook

You could create this texture with a couple of simple manoevres and no cable needle? My eyes were opened and my mind was blown!

I immediately started swatching.

I swatched a number of the motifs from Norah’s book, and you’ll find my top favourites adapted or incorporated into the new group of patterns I’ve begun releasing.

But today I want to show you a different swatch.

I’m showing you this particular swatch because it is the first one I made after I had my lightbulb moment sitting with the Sourcebook. And I’m also showing it to you because it’s an example of playing around, trying stuff out, exploring ideas, messing up – and moving on – and how swatching makes that happen.

Because I design predominantly in the round, I like to make tubular swatches. These swatches generally have a central “pattern area” (in this case, it’s eight stitches wide) and I like to separate ideas / motifs with a round of garter stitch. Then I just go for it, with my eight stitches, and see what happens.

Here’s a section that didn’t work . . .

. . . followed by one that did.

I enjoyed opening up the eight stitch pattern area into satisfying interlocking ‘O’s

. . . and then compressing it right back down with this rather pleasing rib, which is formed by pairs of twisted stitches, crossed to the right on alternate rounds.

Involving ‘action’ on every round, the motifs on this swatch are of the undulating type that are found in many traditional Bavarian or Austrian patterns. Such motifs are more usually made with conventional cabling techniques, but here I’ve formed them with right or left twists, of the kind that Norah Gaughan describes in her Sourcebook.

Swatching is always an interrogation of stitch and fabric, and for me, this, wonky tube is important because it formed a creative bridge to somewhere else. For me, this was the swatch that finally allowed me to get into a natural rhythm with twisted stitches, and to think about their potential.

In this swatch I found my flow.