|Mock Cables in Slip Stitch Crochet
This is one of those times when I'm glad I keep years of swatches! I never know when I’ll be tracing the evolution of an idea.
Today I would say, “I used a spike stitch with a twist to get this mock cable look.” That's not how it began, though.
Four years ago I wasn't thinking of cables (real or “mock”), or spike stitches. I was just playing around with basic slip stitch ribbing. The ribs of the earlier rows made me want to crochet into them. When I tried it, I thought of it as smocking and bunching—sort of a decorative shaping technique for ribbing.
It turns out there are lots of ways to accomplish the simple idea of spiking into one or more rows below. The Lucky Twist Mitts (pictured above) is the result of swatching which kind of spike stitch into which loop of which row of which rib.
Two Helpful Tweaks
The key tweak to me is twisting the loop as you crochet the spike stitch. To twist any loop of a stitch, just insert the crochet hook from the opposite direction that you normally would. It’s the same little tweak that makes all the difference with some Tunisian crochet lace. See the brown and silver photo in the upper right column? No twist. What a difference!
The second tweak
I like for mock cable ribs is to crochet into the third horizontal loop of a rib stitch.
I don't know how else to refer to it. How about a tinted graphic?
.) Crocheting into this easily overlooked loop creates a stronger cabled outline.
I've learned the hard way to avoid dark colors and short color changes with this mock cabling. I carefully lightened the photo at left so that the cabled effect in these dark brown boot cuffs from 2012 would show up at all.
Swatching & the Power of Perception
Because I thought in terms of smocking or decorative shaping, I tried things like staggering the spike stitches and stacking them in columns (compare swatches in right column). I tried bunching 2 to 4 ribs at a time. I striped one rib at a time.
If I’d started off thinking, “Could I get a quick cabled effect with some spike stitches?” my swatching would have gone in a different direction.
I'd think about which contrasting stitches would cause the background stitches to recede and make the “cables” stand out (for example, the 2014 swatch at left). Maybe try ways to add eyelets in the cable centers. Perhaps make entire cables a contrasting color.
A Fun Note About Smocking
You can use spike stitches to selectively restrict the fabulous stretch of slip stitch ribbing. This is actually the opposite of how traditional English sewn smocking was used! Before elastic, it was a clever way to add stretch to woven fabrics, which otherwise wouldn’t have any. [Thanks, Wikipedia.]
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