Once upon a time, me and the cables were NOT friends. No matter which way I approached it, I could not do any sort of cable knitting without things ending in a hot swearing mess (and that was just the yarn - you didn't want to see what sort of state *I* was in!)
My cable needle would poke me. A lot. I didn't like being poked. And I told it so. Not that it seemed to care. Or if it wasn't poking me, it was poking the knitting, resulting in snagged, ugly stitches. Other times it would float about at the back of my work, like a small boat bobbing defiantly along on a treacherous ocean, resisting my efforts to capture it, until finally stitches were dropped and my determination to finish whatever cabled garment I was working on fell overboard.
But then I saw the pattern for the dress I'm currently making for Grumbles. I couldn't resist it! I HAD TO MAKE IT! But what to do about the whole cable needle incompatibility? I needed to conquer the needle, so I squared my shoulders, put on my most determined face and marched into the yarn store and begged them to tell me what sort of cable needles they had in stock.
The lady behind the counter, maybe knowing instinctively that I was a knitter who would no longer be messed with, quickly showed me this little gem, and I'm not ashamed to say that it has changed my life (well, my knitting life, at least):
It's pure genius! Look at the beauty of that curve! It doesn't poke me, or prod the knitting at all, instead staying meekly where it belongs until I am ready to use it. The short end is used to quickly pick up the to-be-cabled stitches, and the long end is perfectly proportioned for knitting the aforementioned stitches back into the row. It's bliss, pure unadulterated bliss to work with. Yay!
Ahh, dearly beloved cable needle - for $6 worth of plastic, you sure have brought me a lot of knitting happiness!