Cabled Headband - Two Color

The photo shows the cabled headband in process, after blocking, before joining in the round, since it is easier to photograph this way. This is the fourth cabled headband I've knitted, but the first in two colors. The single color headbands take me one evening and the two color, two evenings to complete. The pattern is easy to memorize. Read more .... for tips on working the headband in two colors.

Design Features. This high relief, textured hairband, 3" wide x 18" long, is joined to form a ring using the Kitchener stitch. It features garter stitch borders, a 5-strand plaited center cable and vertical bands with slip stitch accents. The garter stitch side bands do double duty: providing a nice edge finish and hugging the head, ensuring a good fit. The design stretches in both directions so it is very forgiving and is a women's size medium. It is easy to lengthen or shorten the band by increasing or decreasing the number of pattern repeats.

Construction of Red and Gold Headband
For this variation of Jennifer Hagan's cabled headband, I knitted half the stitches in Paton's Rich Red (#207) and half in Old Gold worsted weight, merino wool. I used yarn bobbins for the red yarn which bracketed the gold center cable.

The provisional cast on was followed with a single purl row in the two pattern colors. The purl stitch row complements the Kitchener stitch bind off, which provides a compact join and minimizes bulk. This is an important consideration with highly textured knits, like this headband. The other reason for the added purl row is to reduce complexity by limiting it to 3 color changes and no stitch variations in the first row. The purl row also speeds unzipping the provisional chain at the end.

BobbinsBobbins Yarn bobbins were used for the red yarn, so that a long expanse of color would not have to be carried across the back of the work. In addition, by avoiding weaving or stranding, elasticity of this headband is preserved. The photo at left shows the bobbins in use on the wrong side of the fabric. The red and gold vertical "running stitches" on the wrong side of the work are the result of twisting the two colors of yarn together at each color intersection. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger image.

When using bobbins for color work, the two yarns are twisted together at each color change to prevent a gap from showing up on the right side of the garment. The photo of the wrong side of the headband, shows the gold yarn to the left and below the red yarn. This traps the red yarn as the subsequent stitch with the gold yarn is completed.

The photo at left demonstrates how the yarns are managed while knitting the right side rows. The yarns are always and only crossed on the wrong side of the work, whether you are knitting on the right side or the wrong side of the headband.

    Quality Control Tips.
  1. The 8 row repeat pattern is easy to remember if you use a couple of stitch markers to set off the center plait (see the first photo for marker placement). If you are new to knitting cables, for this 8 row pattern, there are only 4 rows to remember, Rows 1, 2, 3 and 7. Rows 3 and 7 are the left and right cables. Row 1 (and 5) are the right side rows without cabling. Row 2 (like 4, 6, and 8) is the wrong side row, which is generally worked as seen; if the stitch looks like a knit stitch it is knitted and a purl stitch is purled. The only exception is the garter stitch edge, which is knitted on every row.
  2. I would recommend using a tally counter and stitch register to keep track of the pattern row and number of rows completed.
  3. By always loading cable stitches from the short arm of the J and knitting them off the long, straight arm you prevent twisting of the stitches. To see photos and read more about the use of the j-hook cable click here: Using a J-hook Cable Needle.
  4. Use a high contrast yarn for the provisional cast on.
  5. I normally add a few extra provisional chain stitches to the end, to make it easier to later "unravel" the chain.
  6. I added a purl row for the first row after the provisional chain--this also helps to unzip the chain and reduce complexity managing the colors.
  7. BlockingBlockingThe original pattern recommended blocking after joining in the round, but it is easier, quicker and produces a more professional appearance if blocking occurs before joining. The photo at right shows the use of lace blocking wires, T-pins and a blocking mat. The wires are great for making the edges square and sides parallel.
  1. Patons Classic Wool - Merino, Medium (4), 100% pure new wool, 223 yds/204 m (3-1/2 oz / 100 g), Old Gold color (00204) and Rich Red (#207). You can make 5 headbands from two skeins.
  2. One (1) Shepherd's crook cable needle.
  3. Two (2) stitch markers.
  4. One (1) 4.5 mm (size 7) circular needle, or 2 straight needles.
  5. One (1) 4.5 mm crochet needle and waste yarn for provisional cast on.
  6. Tally counter
  7. Darning needle.
  8. Blocking tools: mat, t-pins and lace wires.

Pattern Source
Jennifer Hagan design in, "The Knitter's Book of Yarn - The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn," by Clara Parkes, Potter Craft, pp. 186-187, 2007. Potter Craft is an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. N.Y.

Related Posts:
Braided Headband - 2 (gold cable headband article)
Cherry Licorice Headband 2 (red cable headband photo)
Color Work - Using Bobbins
Provisional Cast on
Using a J-hook Cable Needle
Product Review - Blocking Mat
Product Review - Lace Blocking Wires - Not Only for Lace
Tools & Sources
Knitting Needle Size Cross-Reference Chart

Grafting Instructions, Links to Illustrated Instructions
Grafting "In Pattern" (combinations of knit and purl sts)
Grafting (Joining) Two Garter Stitch Pieces Together (purl & garter sts)
Grafting (Joining) Two Stocking Stitch Pieces Together (knit sts and reverse stockinette pieces)

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