I think it's more of a convenience and time saver. I find that I don't mind cabling without the needle when the stitches are in front, but don't like trying to keep track when they're in the back. I use a dpn to cable, so there's no expense involved. It also depends on how slippery the yarn is.
"Trust the pattern!"
Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.
Hop aboard while we follow the cloud-covered van of knitting harmony, man!! Woooo!! --Hedgehog
Agree with Ingrid. Sometimes it's much more expeditious to work w/o but there are certain cables that present certain challenges that necessitate the add'l needle. I use a J-hook that cost only a couple bucks. It's been helpful when needed.
I don't have much cabling experience, but I do cable without needles when possible. So far I've only worked front cables. When I need to cable I skip half of the cable stitches (if it's a 6 stitch cable, then skip 3 sts) knit the second half, then knit the first half. When I do use a cable ndl, I do as previous posters and use a dbl pt ndl.
Hope this helped!
Interesting..I always use cable needles or dpn's. I do admit they are a problem if the yarn is slippery so I always need to really be aware at that point. A few times if needing to leave the knitting for a while I have either slipped ends on the cable needle or simple run a large safety pin through the stitches to secure.
Thank you. Those links were just what I was looking for.
I want to try this because I'm often knitting on the go, such as at my son's baseball game, and I don't like stopping and grabbing the cable needle from my bag. Then I put it down next to me, or drop it... I use circular rather than straight needles for the same reason.
when i am knitting difficult cabled designs (like a saxon braid) i prefer to use a cable needle (well, actually I use a dpn because i can only find the tiny curved cable needles and i dont like those). When i dont use a cable needle, i find that the stitches are harder to keep uniform because they have to stretch much more, but for simple six or four stitch cables that i dont have to constantly read the pattern to make, then i can go with or without the cable needle.