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Mock Cables in Slip Stitch Crochet

Lucky Twist Mitts: Slip Stitch Mock CablesThis 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!
link goes to the photo set where you can enlarge it.

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? (at left.) Crocheting into this easily overlooked loop creates a stronger cabled outline.

Link goes to the Ravelry project page for these Stronghold Bootslips.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.
Link goes to the photo set for Lucky Twist Mitts and its swatches.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.] 

That's it for #65! If you know someone who would enjoy this kind of newsletter, please forward this to them so that they can subscribe. (Click here to subscribe: ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks!      --Vashti         Helpful links:
Click for St. Nick's Eve special! Free Lucky Twists pattern with any $5 purchase. (In Wisconsin where I grew up, St. Nick's is a thing, man.)
Evolution of a Stitch Texture

A twisted spike slip stitch here and there improves the earlier one, below. 

No twisted loops: a different look. From the very first swatch I tried for this technique (Feb. 2011).

Below: initial rows, same swatch.

Link goes to photo set for Lucky Twist Mitts and its early swatches.
(This is the better side of the rows.)

March 2011: Twisted spikes, lycra blend yarn, & contrasting colors.

It was to be a summer shrink top.
DesigningVashti News

New Pattern: Lucky Twist Mitts
St. Nick's coupon at top of column.

Lucky Twists at the DesigningVashti shop.
Lucky Twist Mitts in Ravelry.
Because couldn't everyone use some lucky twists in their lives?

Thank you, Ishbah and LeeAnn :-)

Please vote for the final Flamies crochet award nominees.
~Don't miss the Best Crochet Instructor and Friendliest Crochet Designer categories. I'm in there along with a great group of teachers and designers! 

Doris Chan fans
Doris is nominated for two Flamies Awards: Best Garment
(Andromeda) and Best Thread 
(Shimmer Skirt/Poncho). See her Ruggers sweater in Interweave Crochet magazine, Winter 2015. 

Blogging highlights: 
"Lotus Yarn, 12 Month Mark"

"Selling Finished DV Items" - yes!

"Free Pattern: Picot Crochet Card Edge

Blog post: Five Ways You Can Block Crochet
"Five Ways to Block Crochet." I used star stitch lace to create a graphic of blocking method #2.

Links I Enjoyed This Week: Some Great Slip Stitch Designs!
Anna Lindmark’s Manfred Hat uses short rows for cables.

Tanja Osswald's Comet 7 mitts: real cables.Wabenmustersocken

mock cables?

Janett Myers' Unique Cables Hat: a type of twisted spike, perhaps?

Like Crochet Inspirations Newsletter #65: Mock Cables in Slip Stitches on Facebook
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Vashti Braha is a professional crochet designer & teacher who resides in Florida (USA) and owns

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