You have a pattern that has a cable pattern in it. It is telling you to put 4 stitches on a cable needle and hold it in the back, knit 4 stitches, then knit the 4 stitches on the cable needle. The other one has you holding the 4 stitches in the front. The cable needle is a hook shaped needle to hold the stitches. You can use just about anything in a pinch.