Tutorial: 1-over-1 Cables (or “Twists”) without a Cable Needle

Mini-cables with only 1 stitch crossing over 1 stitch are often called twisted stitches (or right twist / left twist, abbreviated RT / LT), and are VERY easy to complete without a cable needle! These little twists are not to be confused with the twisted stitches made by knitting into the back loop of a stitch, which is a totally different thing with the same name—it’s usually obvious based on context which one is being referenced. These twists are also sometimes referred to as mock cables.

I will note that there’s another method that involves working both stitches as a decrease, and then the back stitch again, which looks about the same and may be called a twisted stitch or a mock cable in patterns… The three methods I’m showing you all result in the exact same effect in the end: the two stitches being crossed as a 1-over-1 cable. Some patterns/countries/designers may specify that there’s a difference between a 1-over-1 cable and/or a mock cable and/or twisted stitches … be sure to read the specifics of the pattern you’re knitting to check what you’re supposed to be doing, because terminology can be really flexible in knitting!

There are several ways to accomplish the mini-cables; I will show you three different methods! This way, you can try them all out and see which one you like best. Personally, I prefer the first method, but the other two are both very common and you may run into a pattern which recommends one of them specifically. Something to keep in mind is that sometimes 1-over-1 cables in a pattern will be worked through the back loop (so this is now BOTH definitions of “twisted stitches” done at the same time, phew!). If a pattern is having you knit through the back loop on the cable stitches, that may make a certain method easier for you, so it’s great to have a handle on all three of the techniques so they can be handy in your knitter’s toolbox for when you might need them!

First up, we’ll call this the decrease method because the actions feel like you’re working standard decreases. (You’re not actually decreasing!)

Decrease method, left twist, step 1

Decrease method, left twist, step 1

Slip the first stitch knit-wise.


Decrease method, left twist, step 2

Decrease method, left twist, step 2

Slip the second stitch knit-wise; so far, this is as if you’re working an SSK decrease.

Decrease method, left twist, step 3

Decrease method, left twist, step 3

Stick your left-hand needle through both slipped stitches, from the bottom up, and slip them to the left-hand needle like this, so they have become twisted on the left-hand needle.

Decrease method, left twist, step 4

Decrease method, left twist, step 4

Knit the first (back) stitch normally.

Decrease method, left twist, step 5

Decrease method, left twist, step 5

Knit the second (front) stitch normally.

Decrease method, left twist, step 6 (done!)

Decrease method, left twist, step 6 (done!)

Decrease method, right twist, step 1

Decrease method, right twist, step 1

Stick your right-hand needle through the next two stitches, knit-wise together, as if you’re going to K2tog…

Decrease method, right twist, step 2

Decrease method, right twist, step 2

…and slip them to the right-hand needle like that, so they are now twisted around each other.

Decrease method, right twist, step 3

Decrease method, right twist, step 3

Slip the two stitches back over to the left-hand needle, purl-wise, so that they stay twisted the same way.

Decrease method, right twist, step 4

Decrease method, right twist, step 4

Knit the first (front) stitch through the back loop (because it is positioned the wrong way on the needle, so this will orient it correctly).

Decrease method, right twist, step 5

Decrease method, right twist, step 5

Knit the second (back) stitch through the back loop.

Decrease method, right twist, step 6 (done!)

Decrease method, right twist, step 6 (done!)

And now the second method; this one is worked the same way larger cables without a cable needle are worked, but it’s easier because you only have to worry about one stitch! We’ll call it the cable method since it’s worked the same as other cables.

Cable method, left twist, step 1

Cable method, left twist, step 1

Stick the right-hand needle purl-wise through the next two stitches and slip them to the right-hand needle.

Cable method, left twist, step 2

Cable method, left twist, step 2

Stick the left-hand needle into the second stitch in on the right, purl-wise in front of the first stitch.

Cable method, left twist, step 3

Cable method, left twist, step 3 (animated gif of motion)

In a quick but smooth-and-steady motion, slide both stitches off of the right-hand needle, the second stitch slipping onto the left-hand needle, and the first stitch being momentarily without a needle, and then as soon as the right-hand needle is out, stick it right back into that loose stitch. As long as you’re holding things in place with your fingers, that loose stitch will be in no danger for that moment of being off the needles!

Cable method, left twist, step 4

Cable method, left twist, step 4

Slip that stitch over to the left-hand needle, purl-wise, and now the two stitches are twisted over each other on the left-hand needle.

Cable method, left twist, step 5

Cable method, left twist, step 5

Knit the first (back) stitch normally.

Cable method, left twist, step 6

Cable method, left twist, step 6 (done!)

Knit the second (front) stitch normally. All done!

Cable method, right twist, step 1

Cable method, right twist, step 1

Stick the right-hand needle through the second stitch, purl-wise in front of the first stitch.

Cable method, right twist, step 2

Cable method, right twist, step 2 (animated gif of motion)

In one smooth-and-steady motion, slide the first two stitches off the left-hand needle, the second stitch being slipped onto the right-hand needle, and the first stitch being momentarily without a needle; immediately stick the left-hand needle back into this loose stitch. As long as you’re holding things in place with your fingers, that loose stitch will be in no danger for that moment of being off the needles!

Cable method, right twist, step 3

Cable method, right twist, step 3

Slip the stitch from the right-hand needle over to the left-hand needle, purl-wise.

Cable method, right twist, step 4

Cable method, right twist, step 4

Knit the first (front) stitch normally.

Cable method, right twist, step 5

Cable method, right twist, step 5 (done!)

Knit the second (back) stitch normally. All done!


And now the final method, which we’ll call the twisty method because it feels extra twisty as you’re working it—you’ll see!

Twisty method, left twist, step 1

Twisty method, left twist, step 1

Stick the right-hand needle into the back loop of the second stitch…

Twisty method, left twist, step 2

Twisty method, left twist, step 2

…and knit through it, leaving both stitches on the left-hand needle.

Twisty method, left twist, step 3

Twisty method, left twist, step 3

Bring the right-hand needle around to stick it knit-wise into the first stitch…

Twisty method, left twist, step 4

Twisty method, left twist, step 4

…and knit into that stitch, normally.

Twisty method, left twist, step 5

Twisty method, left twist, step 5 (done!)

After both knit stitches are complete, drop both the stitches off the left-hand needle. All done!

Twisty method, right twist, step 1

Twisty method, right twist, step 1

Stick the right-hand needle knit-wise through the front of the second stitch…

Twisty method, right twist, step 2

Twisty method, right twist, step 2

…and knit through it, leaving all stitches on the left-hand needle.

Twisty method, right twist, step 3

Twisty method, right twist, step 3

Stick the right-hand needle through the first stitch, knit-wise…

Twisty method, right twist, step 4

Twisty method, right twist, step 4

…and knit a stitch normally.

Twisty method, right twist, step 5

Twisty method, right twist, step 5 (done!)

After both knit stitches are complete, drop both the stitches off the left-hand needle. All done!

By the way, my names for the different methods are not universal, they are just my way of differentiating the three methods. Most patterns or website tutorials featuring 1-over-1 cables will just show you one method without giving it a specific name. I like showing all three because different knitters will prefer different methods and I think it’s helpful to know that all three are options. The more you know, the more you can enjoy your knitting!


Lastly, for if you’ve learned a method and now you just want a quick steps-refresher as you knit, without all the scrolling and photos, here are the simplified text-only steps for you.

RH = right-hand
LH = left-hand
K-wise = knit-wise
P-wise = purl-wise

Decrease method, left twist

Slip first stitch K-wise.

Slip second stitch K-wise (like SSK decrease).

Stick LH needle through both slipped stitches, from the bottom up, and slip them to LH needle like this.

Knit first (back) stitch normally.

Knit second (front) stitch normally.

Decrease method, right twist

Stick RH needle through next two stitches, K-wise together, as if you’re going to K2tog, and slip them to RH needle like that.

Slip the two stitches back to LH needle, purl-wise.

Knit first (front) stitch through the back loop.

Knit second (back) stitch through the back loop.

Cable method, left twist

Stick RH needle P-wise through next two stitches and slip them to RH needle.

Stick LH needle into the second stitch in on the right, P-wise in front of the first stitch.

Slide both stitches off RH needle, the second stitch slipping onto LH needle, and the first stitch being momentarily without a needle, and then stick RH needle back into that loose stitch.

Slip that stitch over to LH needle, P-wise.

Knit first (back) stitch normally.

Knit second (front) stitch normally.

Cable method, right twist

Stick RH needle through the second stitch, P-wise in front of the first stitch.

Slide first two stitches off LH needle, the second stitch slipping onto RH needle, and the first stitch being momentarily without a needle, and then stick LH needle back into that loose stitch.

Slip stitch from RH needle over to LH needle, P-wise.

Knit first (front) stitch normally.

Knit second (back) stitch normally.

Twisty method, left twist

Stick RH needle into back loop of second stitch, and knit through it, leaving both stitches on the LH needle.

Bring RH needle around to stick it K-wise into first stitch, and knit into that stitch, normally.

After both knit stitches are complete, drop both stitches off LH needle.

Twisty method, right twist

Stick RH needle K-wise through front of second stitch, and knit through it, leaving all stitches on LH needle.

Stick RH needle through first stitch, K-wise, and knit a stitch normally.

After both knit stitches are complete, drop both the stitches off LH needle.


1 comment

  1. Vickie / September 12, 2019 / Reply

    Thanks you for this tutorial. An excellent reference for my future knitting.