Could you knit a blanket to help cats during lockdown?

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If you’re looking for a new project while the country is on lockdown, an RSPCA cattery in London is hoping you can help!

RSPCA Friern Barnet Adoption Centre – located within a new Pets at Home store at the Friern Bridge Retail Park in North London – is calling on creative and crafty people to help provide some knitted blankets for its cats. Nicole Grover, from the centre, said: “We give all of our cats a knitted blanket when they arrive here. It’s something warm and cosy for them to curl up on in their pods and when they find their forever homes it means they have something to take with them with a familiar scent. This helps the transition from our centre to their new home much easier and less stressful”.

“While there are lots of people spending more time at home during the current Coronavirus lockdown we thought it would be a great opportunity for anyone who knits or crochets to make a blanket for our lovely cats.”

The centre is asking for blankets around 30 to 40 cm in size, made out of machine washable yarn. “Some of our wonderful volunteers have also been making dangle toys and toy mice to keep our cats entertained and to make their pods more fun,” Nicole added. “We’re incredibly grateful to all of our wonderful supporters who spend time creating toys and blankets for our cats so we’d like to say a big thank you”.

  • Please send your donations to Pets At Home, Friern Bridge Retail Park, Pegasus Way, Friern Barnet, London N11 3PW.
  • For more information, visit the RSPCA Friern Barnet Facebook page

Current update

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Dear Readers

As we all tried to navigate the unknown of the coronavirus situation, it became very clear, incredibly quickly that we had to follow the government’s advice. Therefore, it was with a heavy heart and great sadness that I cancelled this year’s Nottingham Show. Shortly after, of course, West Park Leisure Centre received the order to close its doors with immediate effect.

Many knitting clubs have called to say that they’ve decided to suspend their meetings and our Clubs Directory list gives you all the contact details, should you have any queries. Michelle Ferguson has told me that The Scottish Machine Knitters have cancelled their Spring Workshop on Saturday 18th April. For the most up-to-date SMK details, please visit www.scottishmachineknitters.org.uk

Many of the companies who support the magazine are following the Government’s Public Health England advice on Covid-19 and have closed their shops to the general public. However, a large number are currently working online as normal and continuing to dispatch orders until they’re advised otherwise. With so many of us spending more time at home, perhaps a little more knitting will be done and mail order is always a reliable and excellent option.

It’s business here as usual and I hope to stay that way. If the situation changes, I’ll let you know on the website and you can always email with any queries. Our printers remain open and Royal Mail is still delivering, so the May 2020 magazine will be sent out as usual next week. The readers who may be affected are those buying their copies in local outlets, as small shops have now been ordered to close. If you buy your magazine this way, I can always send a copy from the office.

As we all work together to protect ourselves at these unprecedented times, I’d like to thank you all for your continued support. As others in a similar situation, I’ll carry on mailing orders until notified otherwise and I’m only an email away if you need my help. Stay safe and look after one another.

March update

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Dear Readers

April 2020 is the 34th birthday of MKM and it’s a huge achievement that we’ve kept our magazine and craft going for so long. It’s especially rewarding that our current and future articles include many leading professionals in machine knitting such as (in alphabetical order, of course!) Elaine Cater, Alison Dupernex, Susan Guagliumi, Bill King, Nina Miklin and Claire Newberry. Bill, Nina and Claire will join us at our Nottingham Show on Sunday 5th April at West Park Leisure Centre in Wilsthorpe Road, Long Eaton NG10 4AA from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm and details are on Page 47. It will be Claire’s first visit and she’ll bring her laptop, answer every question you may have on DesignaKnit and tell you about the courses she runs. I’m also delighted that Yarn2Cone will come to the show for the first time. You’ve not seen them before, but the name has been in the magazine for many months. They’ll bring a selection of hanks and cones of their current yarns and I’ve also asked them to bring some of their long socks. Made from 90% British wool and 10% nylon, they come in various colours and sizes from 4-7 and 8-12, so are perfect for inside wellies!

I need to let you know that The Scottish Machine Knitters will hold a Spring Workshop on Saturday 18th April from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm at Parklands Hall, 192 West Stirling Street, Alva FK12 5BG. The cost is £5 for members, £8 for non-members and tickets can be bought on the door. Tea and coffee will be available but take your own lunch. There will be a raffle and sales table, home baking and a Knit Clinic, demonstrations, yarn, books and magazines. For more details, visit www.scottishmachineknitters.org.uk

If you live in Northern Ireland, there’s  a craft event from 26th to 28th March at the Stormont Hotel in Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3LP from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm (4.30 pm on Saturday). Look out for knitting, stitching, textiles, yarn, sewing machines, vintage and more. There are classes and workshops plus a Stitchers Dinner on Friday evening. Call Margaret on 07710-995034 or email info@quiltfayre.com for details.

Newsline has a slightly different look this month. We highlight Alison Dupernex’s new book and reader offer, as well as the start of a series of articles and patterns from Susan Guagliumi. Over the past 30 or so years, she’s become our ‘go-to’ authority on hand-manipulated techniques and written four books on machine knitting. Both Susan and Alison have an easy-to-follow style and inspire everyone to fall in love with machine knitting all over again. Alison’s book is nothing short of amazing and Susan’s articles start with some incredible cable trims next month. This time, though, sit back and enjoy Nina Miklin’s fabulous ideas for frills and trims. They’re all easy to knit and have an endless number of possible uses. Until next month, knit happy and do join us in Nottingham if you possibly can.

NEXT ISSUE May 2020

Subscription copies sent out Thursday 2nd April

On sale Thursday 9th April

Ask your newsagent to reserve a copy now

April 2020 new subscriptions

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This is April 2020 and our latest issue

NEW SUBSCRIPTION If you select a new subscription, no money will be taken with your order and it will start next month with the May 2020 magazine, to be mailed out to subscribers on Thursday 2nd April. If you’d like to start with this April issue, you need to order a Subscription Bundle.

SUBSCRIPTION BUNDLE If you select a subscription bundle, you pay for our current April 2020 magazine and we’ll send you a copy straight away. Your magazine will then be mailed direct from the printer on the first Thursday of each month and the May 2020 issue goes out to subscribers on Thursday 2nd April.

April 2020 – our new issue

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Our full-colour April 2020 issue has been sent to subscribers and is on sale 12th March. Our cover design is a quick ‘n’ easy sweater in King Cole Opium, which glides through LK-150 and chunky machines and we always show you how to knit all our designs on standard gauge machines. We’ve a 4-page pullout of Nina Miklin frills and trims and the launch of the stunning new book from Alison Dupernex, with reader saving of 20%. You’ll never knit drab beige again after opening up her radiant book. Sally-Ann Carroll helps us and our knits look our very best for a special occasion and Bill King’s space cables are amazing. Claire Newberry finds an exciting new feature in DesignaKnit 9 and Joan Lafferty shows us how to knit intarsia with an ordinary carriage. We always include news and reviews, letters, club details and this time we’ve a taste of spring and summer to come, with techniques and designs from Susan Guagliumi.

Best fit

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Dear Anne

I’m expecting my first baby in September. Would it be possible to request a cardigan or jumper pattern in the magazine for newborns? I found a pattern in March 2019, just after I wrote the email to you, and made this using it. I’ve got no specific pattern requests, but part of my trouble is not knowing how the inch sizing relates to standard ages, so would you include some guidance please? Very many thanks, Ayesha

Thanks for asking Ayesha and we still have lots of Anne Baker’s baby designs in the pipeline for the coming months. Along with many others, you may not have realised that we often include these details in our baby patterns. For example, look at Candy Kisses on Page 36 in the June 2019 issue. Under the Measurements section we say, ‘To fit age 6-12 months [1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7] years. To fit chest 46 [51, 56, 61, 66] cm, 18 [20, 22, 24, 26] in. Actual size 50 [55, 60.5, 66, 71.5] cm, 19¾ [21¾, 24, 26, 28¼] in. You’ll not be far out if you keep in mind that the average chest size of a 6 to 12 month old baby will be around 46 cm, 18 inches and the actual measurement of 50 cm, 19¾ inches allows this design to be worn over other clothing. Typical baby sizing is to fit premature [new born, 0-3, 3-6, 6-12, 12-18] months. To fit chest 31 [36, 41, 46, 51, 56] cm, 12 [14, 16, 18, 20, 22] in. Actual size 35 [40.5, 46, 51.5, 59, 64.5] cm, 13¾ [16, 18¼, 20¼, 23¼, 25½] in.

The other thing to do, of course, is visit one of the baby chain shops with a tape measure in hand. They almost always size their garments by age and you’ll get a fairly good idea of what’s likely to fit. The only thing to remember is that tiny ones grow fast, so it can sometimes be more useful to knit a slightly larger size for a baby to grow into, rather than be a snug fit at birth. We all wish you the safe and happy delivery of your baby and do, please, keep in touch.

Side step

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Dear Anne

I have a query regarding a pattern in a backdated copy of MKM and hope you may be able to help. At the Nottingham show I bought a few back copies of MKM, one of which is October 2016. On Page 24, there’s a pattern for a top and cardigan using King Cole Opium. I want to knit the cardigan and have bought the yarn but according to the pattern the ribs need to be hand knitted. However, I’m struggling with arthritis in my hands and find hand knitting both difficult and painful. I’m not over experienced in machine knitting, being a returner after 30-odd years and would like some advice on whether or not I could knit the ribs on the machine and, if so, what tension would be preferable. If this isn’t advisable then I shall have to persevere with the hand knitting. I look forward to my monthly magazine and have just completed two chunky jackets for my granddaughters from a back copy, substituting the hand knitted ribs for some I machine knitted. Thanks for any help, Gill

I’m sorry it’s such a painful struggle to use your hands Gill and, quite honestly, ‘ignore’ the instructions and ‘do your own thing’. If you can still get the ribber carriage across a chunky machine, and it can be hard work at the best of times, it’s easy enough to knit ribs. I’m sure crochet is out of the question, so another suggestion is to make a simple hem. If you use the purl side as the right side, which I think has a much nicer texture, the plain knit stitches of a hem will look like rib anyway.

It really doesn’t matter how you adapt the instructions to suit your circumstances and, by making the changes, you’ll also create your own unique garment. When it comes to tension, it’s anyone’s guess what your machine will need. Just as you go down two needle sizes for hand-knitted ribs, we usually go down three full tensions for ribs on the machine. The zigzag and circular rows need to be as tight as possible, so you’ll have to try out a small sample to see what’s best. There’s no point in breaking the yarn or struggling to stick to figures on a page, just give it all a try and you’ll quickly have the answers you need. The most important thing is to enjoy what you do, not make it a painful chore.

Cosy up

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Dear Anne

My July magazine arrived today and I’m really pleased to see the ‘Home Comforts’ feature, as not everyone fancies tackling a garment every time they knit. Can we have a tea cosy pattern, please? It might be ‘old hat’ to some, but not to me! Also the hooded cardigan and the other patterns are lovely. I had some issues with DesignaKnit recently and wondered if Claire would consider a feature on ‘Knits that Fit’ covering shaping with DesignaKnit. I knitted a tuck stitch sleeveless summer top in size 38, however when I tried it on I found there was masses of room at the armholes and it gaped at the side of the bust. Quite frankly it looked awful, so I had to go to work on my linker. (I hate sewing, the linker is a godsend.) I improvised with some bust darts and had to take out four inches each side around the armhole for the darts then cut off the excess fabric. I’m sure it would be much easier to integrate shaping into the pattern rather than ‘cut and sew’ darts! The top is now wearable and I’m pleased with it. Kind regards, Jane

Tea cosies are back in fashion, Jane, so here’s one from the late Joan Lafferty.

INTRO Tea cosies are back in fashion and this one is guaranteed to be a best seller on any bazaar stall or fund raising event

QUOTE “To display it effectively on your stall, make a teapot-shaped cardboard cut out and hang a tea bag on the ties.

PATTERN NOTES

Use any pattern of your choice including an all-over Fair Isle or single motif, noting cosy is knitted from the top down.

MACHINES

This pattern requires a machine capable of knitting Fair Isle.

MATERIALS

Oddments of 4-ply yarn in colours required. 2 strips of Velcro, each one approximately 15 cm, 6 in long.

TENSION

No tension swatch is required and choose tension to suit yarn used. Use tension dial approximately 7 for stocking stitch and 8 for Fair Isle.

TO KNIT

Make 2 pieces the same Cast on over 76 Ns in 1×1 mock rib (see Page 62) and K 40 rows. Make a hem by placing loops of first row worked in MY onto alt Ns. With all Ns in WP, K across then set RC at 000. Cont in pattern, noting pattern should finish on or before RC shows 64. Cont in st st until RC shows 68. Set RC at 000. K 68 rows in st st for lining. Catch up along edge of closed rib and K across at Tension 10. Cast off.

TO FINISH

Close edges and sew strips of Velcro along the edges. Join ribs. Knit a circular cord over 5 Ns in contrast yarn and thread through rib. Gather to form top.

Drifting along

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Dear Anne

I’ve been doing a tension sample for the Drifting Along pattern in your May issue using the recommended King Cole Drifter DK yarn on my Silver Reed LK150. The recommended tension dial setting for that particular machine is listed at 6, but after trying this I have found that 3• gives the correct tension for the pattern. Is this just a mistake in the pattern instructions? I find your magazine very helpful, having come back to machine knitting after a very long break. Many thanks, Anne. I’m looking forward to the next issue of MKM as I love finding all your useful tips and recommendations. Best wishes, Lennox

I’m so pleased you’ve written, Lennox, as this will re-assure all readers that every machine is different. I’m always reluctant to give any approximate tension dial settings in the magazine, because they can vary so much. Yours will be a gem, as you’ve lots of availability to open up your tension dial beyond 3• for DK. I once had a Brother standard gauge machine which needed 8•• to knit 4-ply, whilst my Knitmaster had to be down at 5•. For years I wrongly assumed that Brother machines knitted tighter than Knitmaster! It’s a joy to hear that you’ve matched the tension and I hope you enjoy knitting the design. Best wishes, Anne