Hand-Spun Scarf

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For years I have been fascinated by looms and weaving. It satisfies two aspects of my thinking, creative and mathematical.

After reading an essay about why some jobs can be dissatisfying, I decided to take a weaving class. The essay proposed that what humans really enjoy and find satisfying is a job completed from start to finish. An example would be growing food, cooking it, and serving it for dinner. Contrast this with many jobs where a person repeatedly completes a small part of a larger job over and over. Teaching third grade over and over for example might seem less satisfying than raising a child from birth to adulthood.

I have always been a sewer (sewist?), making cloths, curtains, bags, and quilts. So I thought it might be fun to explore other aspects of textile production. Working backwards I would learn to weave, then spin, then produce fiber (either grow cotton or raise sheep). So, twenty years ago I took a weaving class and bought a loom. Life can be complicated and busy. Getting around to learning to spin took a couple decades but finally last fall I returned to Sievers School of Fiber Arts on Washington Island in Door County WI and learned to spin. My wonderful instructor was Deb Jones, owner of the Fiber Garden. It was great fun.

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This is a bobbin of gray, black, and white wool yarn that I spun but had not yet plied when I had to return home. I did purchase the spinning wheel and I intended to ply the yarn on itself or with some white yarn I was planning to spin because that was all I could think of to do with it.

Spinning is a lot of fun (did I mention that?), so when Deb, our instructor, mentioned that she was organizing a four day spinning retreat at Durwards Glen near Baraboo WI, I decided to attend. It was an eye opening experience. The spinners there knew no bounds. Anything was fair game; fancy yarns plied with fancy threads and beads and sparkles, thick and thin yarns. It was such an inspiration.

My little gray yarn got a new future. I decided to ply it with a sparkly silver thread.

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It turned out beautifully! Then I had to think of something to make with it. It was too pretty to stash away! So I decided to make a scarf for my daughter.

I warped my Harrisville loom with a cotton sock yarn because that is what I had.

I have been trying to keep better record and actually plan my projects. I think this is especially important with hand-spun yarn since you can’t go out and “just buy more” if you run short.

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Here is the plan sheet I used to design the project . The picture below is not me, but it shows the loom I have. This is how I like to imagine myself weaving; a quiet, well lit dedicated space with plenty of yarn and serenity.

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This is not me, but it is like my loom.

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It was still cold and snowy outside and we kept the bird feeders full. That morning I saw a downy woodpecker at the feeder. Its mottled feathers reminded me of my yarn and the tuft of red feathers on its head was so pretty I decided to accent the scarf with red stripes and extra red fringe.

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Woodpecker inspired stripes

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Close-up of the weave

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I used this boat shuttle so I didn’t have to cut the yarn too often.

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Trimming the fringe. I added extra red fringe to the gray warp threads.

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The finished scarf.

This was my first project using my hand-spun yarn. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out and my daughter likes it. She was the one who helped me design the stripes and suggested adding the red fringe. It matches her red coat and has just the right amount of sparkle.

I am way behind writing about my projects. I hope you like the scarf!

As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.

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Bubble Hat 2.0

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Last month I knit a Winter Olympics Hat for a young man (child size large)  using the bubble stitch that I had just discovered. It was fun and easy. His mom liked it and asked if I would knit her one “in something like gray”. It gave me an opportunity to revisit the pattern and make it better.

 

The original video and instructions for the bubble stitch indicated that I should start with multiples of 4 stitches plus 3. I didn’t really think about why there should be 3 extra stitches. Now I know that they are needed if you are making a flat scarf. One stitch is slipped at the start of each row to make a nice edge. The other two deal with alternating rows of bubbles each of which is offset by half a bubble (2 stitches).

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Since the hat is knit in the round, no extra stitches are needed. In fact the addition of the three extra stitches prevented the bubbles from fitting together nicely at the back as shown in the picture above.

The hat is very stretchy so the diameter of the child size hat was about right for the small adult version as well. Instead of 59 (56 plus 3), I cast on 60 stitches (evenly divisible by 4). The child’s hat was too short for an adult so I added two rows of bubbles (12 additional rows).

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The hat turned out just right, the right diameter and the right length. I like using at least two colors as this shows off the bubble stitch better than a single color would. Here are the instructions.

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I hope you like the hat. It would look nice in team colors. It is quick and easy.

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As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.

The Laws of Physics

The laws of physics describe the behavior of the universe.

Our understanding of those laws progresses through the process of scientific inquiry, exploration and experimentation.

Nothing “breaks the laws of physics”.

If something actually happens, it defines the laws. An unexpected or unexplained action is an opportunity to advance understanding.

Throughout history, magical explanations have tempted those who are unwilling or unable to do the difficult work of learning these laws.

The universe behaves in interesting and complex ways. If a limit to our understanding of these processes exists, we certainly have not reached it yet. The introduction of magical explanations that follow no rules is, at the very least, premature.

Nailed It!

 

The winter olympics has been such a knitting inspiration. One of the coaches even knits to relax. And the hats! Oh, my. So many pretty knit hats.

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I watched an interview with ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson on Sunday. She was fun to listen to, but all I could think about was that cute hat! I was sure I could make one.

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I looked through my stash and found a light colored yarn that looked like it would work.

The yarn is Vanna’s Choice (worsted weight) and the color is “linen”. I think Sarah’s hat is a little lighter in color, but I didn’t want to make a special trip to the yarn store. For the pom pom I used a thick gray yarn and the large (blue) 85mm Clover Pom-Pom maker. I think Sarah’s pom pom is larger but this was the largest maker I had.

Here’s the hat!

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I think it turned out pretty well. Here are the instructions.

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Sometimes the things I try don’t turn out exactly like I think they will. Of course, I don’t write about those. Haha. But it is fun to see failures that others have shared about their Pinterest attempts. Often they tag them with “Nailed It!”

I especially like the photographs of babies and children.

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These always make me laugh.

Well, here is my entry. What do you think?

Nailed It

As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.

 

Bubble Knit Winter Olympics Hat

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Recently, I saw a video of the bubble knit stitch. It looked fun and not too hard so I knit a sample. It was really hard for me to knit a bunch of rows and then purposely drop stitches to do the K4B (knit four below) stitch. The instruction videos I found on line are pretty good though and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Once I felt confident, I decided to make this hat for my young friend, just in time for the winter olympics. It only took a few hours, so you would still have time to make one if you get busy!

The bubble stitch is done in sets of four stitches. You need to cast on multiples of 4 plus 3 additional stitches. The “bubbling” is shifted by 2 stitches every other sequence so the bubbles fit together like bricks. The first bubbling row starts with K3 and the next starts with K1. Then back and forth. I wanted a K1,P1 ribbing so I had to cast on an even number, 58, and then add a stitch by knitting front and back to bring the count up to the correct 59 stitches.

I am not including the directions for the bubble stitch itself, I could not do any better than the videos and explanations already available on the internet. But here are the instructions for the hat and a few more pictures.

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To make the hat larger, just add bubbles. To make the hat larger diameter, increase the number of stitches in groups of 4 and adjust the rest of the pattern. You can make the longer by adding bubbles six rows at a time.

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I think the bubble stitch is fun and I love the way the hat turned out. I hope you enjoy the pattern. Be sure to visit the internet instruction sites and thank them for their work!

As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.

 

 

 

Stash Buster Hat and Scarves

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These three scarves and their matching hat are quick and easy. They are knit on giant US35 straight needles using three strands of worsted weight (size 4) yarn in a seed stitch. They are a super “stash buster” and can easily be knit in team colors for a quick gift. If you hurry, you can knit some up for the Super Bowl!

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There is only one version of the hat but there are three styles of the matching scarf. Take your pick.

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Scarf Style 1 is a traditional scarf that is 60” long and 10” wide. It requires about 115 yards of each for the three colors of yarn for a total of 345 yards. This one was knit with yellow, black, and white.

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Scarf Style 2 is the same scarf as style 1 but with the ends sewn together to form an infinity scarf. This one is rust, brown, and white.

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Scarf Style 3 is a cowl style (11″ x 28″), attached with buttons that can be worn in a variety of ways. It requires 100 yards of each of the three colors of yarn. This one was knit with one yellow and two black yarns.

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The hat requires about 40 yards of each of three colors for a total of about 120 yards.

Here is a table that shows how much total yarn is needed for each style. Divide by three to find out how much of each color you need.

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Because the yarns are held separately and not plied together, the resulting scarf is very soft and fluid. It feels wonderful.

Here are the instruction and some pictures.

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Cowl with buttons attached

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Long scarf worn knotted

 

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Infinity Scarf double looped

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Loosely knit stitches mean no buttonholes are needed for cowl

The cowl can be worn many ways, folded or unfolded, buttoned or unbuttoned.

Close up of the seed stitch.

I hope you enjoy knitting this hat and these scarves. This would be a great project for a beginning knitter.

As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.

 

Quick and Easy Knit Winter Hat

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Sometimes I see people wearing a hat or scarf and I think, “Hey, that’s cute and I bet I could knit it!” If I’m feeling bold I may ask them if I can photograph it, or measure it (I carry a tape measure in my purse) or count the stitches. Sometimes the owners can tell me where the pattern came from and I can credit its designer. But usually they don’t know.

That is how I happened to knit this particular hat. I saw it and the owner let me count the stitches. I guessed at the needle size and knit a trial hat. It is made on large US13 and US15 needles using super bulky yarn so the hats knit up quickly and are thick and warm.

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My first attempt was a serviceable hat but not quite what I was going for. It is too long (slouchy) and I don’t like the knit row at the lower edge. But it certainly gave me a starting point and with a few changes I was able to knit two more hats that turned out just as I wanted. I actually pulled this first one out and reused the yarn to make it with the improved pattern.

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I had some yarn left over after making this Super Warm Cowl last winter and decided to make a matching hat. The two of them together now form a cozy complete head cover for even the coldest day.

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I did not put a pom pom on this hat. The owner did not want one and I didn’t have enough yarn anyway.

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The third hat was made with Lion Brand Thick and Quick in a the color “Galaxy”. It is rich purple with sparkles. I was looking for something to make a hat for my new Yoga instructor, Becky. I knew this was the yarn as soon as I saw it. It is sparkly, just like Becky. But it is so dark that it doesn’t photograph very well. The details are lost in the poor winter lighting that I was stuck with. Photograph is not my forte.

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I did make a big pom-pom for this hat using the large (blue) 85mm Clover Pom-Pom maker. Interestingly, the yarns of the pom-pom are seen end-on instead of from the side. The pom-pom looks much darker and less sparkly than the hat does. Its still quite pretty but I was surprised when I saw this effect.

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I have some more hats planned. They only take a few hours. I will update this post with pictures when I get them done. If you make one, put a pic in the comment section. They would be fun to see.

As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.

Three Woven Scarves

 

On my four harness Harrisville floor loom I have successfully woven table runners, placemats, dish towels, and coasters. I was even able to weave two small rugs from old yarn that my neighbor dropped off.

But scarves have always eluded me. A soft, drapey neck wrap that looks pretty and feels good to wear is one of the items I think I would weave often if I could figure out how to do it. Sometimes I have woven something that LOOKS like a scarf, but it always feels like something else.

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This one, using cotton thread and a log cabin pattern, looks like a scarf but feels like a dish towel.

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This one, using acrylic “homespun” looking yarn, looks like a scarf but feels like a rug.

After doing a lot of research I found several changes that I could make that might help.

I decided that the one reed I had, a 12-dent reed, was probably a little fine. So I ordered an 8-dent reed hoping that the wider spacing of the warp thread would make the fabric have a looser feeling.

Next I chose a new yarn, one that much finer. No more weaving with knitting, worsted weight yarn.

Lastly, I stopped whacking the warp into place and practiced a much lighter touch placing the weft threads further apart.

All these changes generally made the fabric lighter and airier. And it worked. I made a few scarves that weren’t too bad. Here they are.

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For the first scarf on my new 8-dent reed, I chose a soft sock weight black yarn for the warp . It seemed strong yet soft. The weft was a gray worsted weight acrylic yarn. I know I said I wasn’t going to use knitting yarn anymore, but I wanted to see how it would turn out with just the changed reed. I guess I have been trained to change just one variable at a time.

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I was careful not to beat the weft into place but rather to just “set” it into place. In the end the scarf was better than any I had done so far but still not good enough. I finished it anyway, washed and dried it in the machine, and it was passable. At Thanksgiving, my niece claimed it and took it home. If someone saids they will take the thing I have made, then I think I have been successful.

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Next I was ready to try a smaller yarn. Some people live in a “food desert” where they cannot buy good groceries. I live in a “fiber desert”. Anything decent has to be ordered online or found in shops hours away.

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But I did find an interesting commercial yarn that had 6 thin threads skeined together. They were not plied, just parallel. So I bought it thinking I would separate the 6 strands and use them each alone.

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In the end, I just split the strands into 2 groups of three strands each, one light group and one darker group.

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I used them alternately in both the warp and the weft.

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Closeup

I worked very hard to keep the weft spacing similar to the warp spacing and I think it turned out pretty well.

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I finished it with a twisted fringe.

The two sides of the fabric look very different from each other. I need to think about this some more and try to understand how that happened so I can better predict what to expect in the future. I just love it when I am surprised!

The scarf feels soft and drapes pretty well. My sister wears it with a gray wool coat and it looks wonderful. I have another skein of this yarn and I may try again, this time dividing the strands even more.

For the third scarf I used this sport weight yarn for the warp and this boucle yarn for the weft. The loopy nature of the boucle yarn was wonderful to weave. The yarn wrapped nicely around the selvedge warp threads producing a neat edge. The variegated nature of the yarn presented a challenge when winding onto bobbins. I had to learn to pull out a length of yarn and wind it onto the bobbin in such a way that the color continued as it should.

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I failed to plan ahead for the very long variegations in color and the three sections of the scarf are not all evenly spaced. The light section came first, then the medium brown. By the time I got into the darkest color, there was not enough warp left to continue and make that section as long as the first. But the scarf looks nice anyway. When its wrapped around the neck, the difference is section lengths is not as obvious. I let the twisted fringe hang long to further distract from the unevenly spaced color sections.

While weaving the scarves, I added a few tools to my loom.

I bought some woodworking clamps. I use them to hold the reed vertically for sleying, no more tying with ropes. I also use them to keep the yarns in the narrow warp from spreading too wide on the warp beam.

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I also bought an LED rechargeable work light that hangs nicely on the loom top shelf. We may be short of yarn stores but we have a Home Depot!

I learned a lot making these three scarves. Hopefully I will just keep getting better and better.

As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.

 

Child Safe Scarf

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Last winter a child was serious injured when his scarf caught on some playground equipment. He survived but has permanent damage to the structures of his neck. Yet, its cold here, and kids need something to keep them warm when playing outside. I heard some moms talking about it and was reminded of the ties worn by supervisors in a machine shop where I used to work. They would tie a conventional tie and then cut it in the back and put it back together again with velcro. In that way, if it got caught in a machine it would “break away”.

I have been knitting cowls for people for several years, they are my most requested item. I decided to make a “break away” version for kids. I tried several closure ideas – thread was too temporary and difficult to replace, break away jewelry closures were hard to attach, velcro was too stiff and scratchy.

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I settled on small (size 1) snaps and they work very very well. They come apart easily under stress but are quickly re-closed with just a “snap”.

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The scarf has bands of knit and purl rows that act like accordion folds. They allow the scarf to fit easily pushed down around the neck or be pulled up to cover the mouth, cheeks, and nose.

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I have made two so far, both with Vanna’s Choice yarn. It is soft, fluffy and washable. The small size measures 14” x 5” (unstretched).

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I made one in Taupe and another in Purple Mist. The kids like them and the moms are happy.

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Small size uses 40g of yarn

I can’t quite get two out of a single 3 oz. skein so the next ones will undoubtedly be multi-color.

The length and width could be easily changes. The colors could be school or team colors.

I hope you will make some for the little people you know!

As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.

Cable Stitch Scarf

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Lately, I have been creating hats and scarves and rugs and yarn. I have been weaving, spinning, and knitting. But I haven’t been writing. I like to write about my projects to share ideas and to document what I have done for future reference. Today I feel the need to catch up writing a bit.

Cable stitches are fun and not very difficult. This one is especially simple. It is just four repeating rows. Every row starts with a slipped stitch and ends with a purl. It is knit on large US15 10” long straight needles. The design is five cables each four stitches wide, all in the same direction, separated by two stitches.

When choosing a cable stitch you can select how frequently you want the stitches to cross-over, how many stitches you want to twist, how far apart you want the cables to be, and if you want them to all twist the same way or different directions. If you search the internet for pictures you will see that these decisions can lead to an infinite number of combinations and patterns.

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This scarf patterns uses repeats that are six stitches wide. P K K K K P

Half of the four knit stitches are then crossed over every four rows.

With such a short repeat, the pattern looks very twisty with no regions that are flat and smooth. It makes the scarf fluffy and full even thought the yarn is ordinary worsted weight “size 4” yarn. I used two 3oz skeins.

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Cable needles come in a variety of forms, hooked, straight, bent. I like the hooked form because it hangs easily out of the way in the front or back of the work. In the cable rows, some stitches are transferred to the cable needle. Those stitches are allowed to hang loosely on the front or back side of the work depending on which way you want the cable to twist. If you let the stitches hang in front, as I did on this project, you get a left twisting cable. The stitches on the cable needle are “skipped” while others on the needle are knit. The cable stitches are then returned to the needle and knit. In this way, some stitches cross over others creating the cable.

tip protectors

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The scarf is quick and easy. It is easy to start and stop. A pattern of four rows only takes about 10 minutes, so it is an easy project to pick up and put down. I usually put a needle tip protectors on the needle when I put it down, just so the stitches don’t slip off (I have a cat – enough said). You can see that I also inserted a “life line” periodically in case I needed to pull out any part of the work where I made a mistake. This is a string that is threaded though the stitches on the needle and makes it easier to pick up those stitches after pulling out a section.

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I had intended to finish this scarf by gathering each end and attaching a large pom pom made with the scarf yarn and a black yarn. But my daughter saw the scarf and claimed it. She requested an infinity scarf so I sewed the two ends together without twisting to form a loop that she can wear hanging long or doubled over.

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If you haven’t tried cable stitch before, this is an easy pattern to start with. Once you get the hang of it, you can try different variations.

Make the cables wide or narrow.

Space the cables closer or farther apart.

Twist the cables left (keep the cable needle in front) or right (cable needle in the back).

Knit more or fewer rows in-between twists.

Combine cables into more complex patterns.

Happy Cable Knitting!

As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.