What fits what?

Dear Anne

I noticed in the magazine that Mini Mart has Silver Reed sponge bars and I wondered if one would fit my Brother 860? Also would the cast on comb wires be the same as those for my Brother 850 ribber? I haven’t been able to use the machine for a while, as I’ve had a replacement shoulder but now I can and, of course, the sponge bar has had it! Thanks for any help and best wishes, Barbara

PS The ballet cardigan now gets worn to football practice!

I case you missed it last year, Barbara told us about a cardigan she’d knitted for the daughter of a friend of one of her daughters. She was three years old, loved dressing up and wearing tutus. She had a pink tutu and a mauve one so Barbara made her a ‘Lafferty cardi’ to go with them, using up some cone ends in the right colours. It seems the cardi has now moved from the dressing up box to the football field! As for many replacement accessories, Nick Traylen at Uppingham Yarns keeps a list of what fits what and he’s a great source of parts to keep old machines going. Write to Uppingham Yarns, 30 North Street East, Uppingham, Rutland LE15 9QL, call 01572-823747 or visit www.wools.co.uk

February update

Dear Readers

As Spring approaches I’ve some news to share, which will bring sadness to the many knitters she’s helped over the years. Alison Lee, known especially to past members of the Guild of Machine Knitters, has to give up machine knitting completely. If you were a lone machine knitter, often uncertain about what to do, you kept Alison’s phone number close at hand. She ran the Guild Helpline and dealt with a huge number of assorted knitting queries and problems. She ran classes at Cherry Willingham and often helped out on the Guild stand at knitting shows. She’s had serious health problems for many years and was hopeful that recent surgery would improve the quality of her life. Sadly this hasn’t happened and she’s now quite severely incapacitated. Like others in a similar situation, she can no longer knit and will have to drastically downsize. We send her our sincere thanks for all she’s done to help and promote machine knitting, along with our best wishes and hopes for as smooth and as easy a transition of her circumstances as is possible.

Patricia Dadson has also been in touch to let us know that the very well-known Knitaholics has had to close down. With Patricia at the helm, the club has had 23 really successful years with regular workshops, outings and speakers. Over the years, Romford was also the home of many popular knitting shows. A lot of clubs have found themselves in a similar position, with falling numbers and rising costs. However, all is not lost because the remaining members have amalgamated with the Knit ‘n’ Natter group at North Romford Community Centre. Now the days are getting longer, why not give Patricia a call to renew past friendships. The group meets on alternate Tuesday afternoons, with on-site parking. If you’d like an update or more details, please give Patricia a call on 07806-765876.

Finally, I’ve heard from his wife Janice that Alan Hunt has passed away. Alan was known to all old hands for his Hush Knit Yarns, especially Fine French Crêpe. He was also the man who brought us the Nottingham Show at Harvey Hadden Sports Centre each April and Just Knitting at Thornbury Leisure Centre in September. Alan had been suffering with ill health for some time and, sadly, his heart eventually failed. Rest in peace, Alan and we send our sincere condolences to Janice, their family and many friends.

I still hugely enjoy machine knitting and putting the magazine together, so do please join me next month. We’ll reach another milestone in the magazine’s life as the April issue celebrates the 38th birthday of MKM.

NEXT ISSUE April 2024

Subscription copies sent out Thursday 7th March

On sale Thursday 14th March

Ask your newsagent to reserve a copy or order a subscription in our shop NOW!

March 2024 (Issue 314) with Bill King

The cover design on our full-colour March 2024 issue is a pretty cardigan in a wide size range. We’ve our usual mix of patterns for standard, mid-gauge and chunky machines including a popular Anne Baker Karabee Design. Bill King transforms a simple diamond into an intricate selection of squares and Susan Guagliumi (https://susan-guagliumi.teachable.com/) along with Alison Dupernex are our constant help and support. Claire Newberry looks at audible warnings in Interactive Knitting and it’s a ‘must-read’ for DesignaKnit users. You’ll find Claire at Patreon.com and her page is Claire Newberry’s Knitting School. Sally-Ann Carroll looks at the current trends for Spring/Summer 2024 – and we probably own most of the key elements! As always, our mail order shop is open and we’ve help and advice in Dear Anne plus news, reviews and the fabulous circular yoke challenge completed by members of Rumney Knitting Class & Club.

New subscriptions

NEW SUBSCRIPTIONS Our magazines are mailed to subscribers on the first Thursday of the preceding month, so our March 2024 issue was mailed on Thursday 1st February.

If you’d like a monthly subscription to the magazine and order by or on 1st March, your subscription will start with the April 2024 magazine.

Orders received on or after 2nd March will start with the May 2024 magazine. No money is taken with your order and May will be mailed out to subscribers on Thursday 4th April.

If you’d like to start with an earlier magazine, please buy it as a back issue and you’ll find lots of choice in our shop.

Kill or cure?

Kill or cure

Hello Anne

Happy New Year to you and thank you for yet another year of a great magazines. I’m in New Zealand and have been a regular purchaser of your magazine for many, many years and it never fails to surprise me with new patterns or advice. I order it through our local bookshop so it’s several months behind when I get it – and more so with the Covid freight. I’ve been looking through back issues and was interested in the Block Buster item on Page 13 of September 2022 on Ironing, Pressing and Steam Pressing. Personally, I’m still nervous with the iron on my knitting, be it wool or a man-made fibre. I felt this article spelled it out well. I’ve ‘killed’ several items over the years with too much ironing and think this would be very helpful to newer knitters. Kind regards, Lorraine

Basic skills

Hi Anne

I’m new to machine knitting and wonder if you could suggest where I could go that might give me answers to all the silly questions I sometimes need to ask. It feels as if everyone except me is an expert, so I often feel embarrassed about not knowing some of the basics. I’d be very grateful for any help and thank you in advance. Best wishes, Mary

Thanks for asking Mary and for those of you who don’t know, Jane Harrisson has a machine knitter’s treasure chest of resources. It includes masses of useful links, free patterns and stitch patterns together with punchcards and electronic diagrams. There’s a huge section on troubleshooting tips for machine knitters and Jane has also included the Punchcard sets and Mylar sheets for all the major brands, to help knitters who have unwittingly bought second-hand machines without them. Needles of Steel is also your first stop for information about Circular Sock Machines. The site is an invaluable resource for all CSM owners and offers free patterns, manuals, techniques, vendors and videos. There really is far too much to list here that’s of special interest for every machine knitter. So, make it one of your jobs to visit Jane’s site at www.needles of steel.org.uk and we know you won’t be disappointed!

Wax works

Dear Anne

I was reading my MKM for a few minutes and as I opened it, the first page that came in view was the one with ‘always wax double knit yarn’ on it. This is something I’ve been doing ever since I started using a machine in 1969. Back then wool winders were as good as those sold today, but they did tell you to wax the yarn. Over the years it’s become a part of my practice and I often buy 3-ply and 4-ply yarns in 100 gram balls. This yarn, whether wool or acrylic, hasn’t been waxed for machine use so I automatically wax everything I buy before using, unless it’s on a cone. For knitting baby clothes and children’s outfits, I find the 100 gram balls come in plenty of lovely colours. In fact, I do have quite a few orders for children’s clothes! I’m just waiting for some building work to be finished inside the house, so I can get on with my knitting. Best wishes, June

Losing it

Hi Anne

I’m a self-taught knitter with a Brother 881 and always get in a muddle decreasing across the row. I always seem to have too many decreases left to do at one end. Is there a sure-fire way to get them even? Yours hopefully, Sheila

You’re in luck with this method, Sheila, because you’ve a lace carriage. If the instructions say ‘decreasing seven stitches evenly’, go across the row and push seven needles slightly forward but still in working position. Fiddle about a bit until you’re happy they’re evenly spaced, then push the seven needles to ‘D’ position. Now take the lace carriage across and the stitches will transfer to their adjacent needles. Push the empty needles back to ‘A’ position. You’ve now decreased your seven stitches. Knit several rows with waste yarn and release from the machine. Next push the reduced number of needles to ‘B’ position. Holding the wrong side towards you, fold the waste knitting back towards the machine. Pick up the stitches and place them in the hooks of the needles, including both loops when you reach the transferred stitches. The waste yarn is easily unravelled and your decreased stitches are evenly spaced across the work.

Float on

Dear Anne

I design a lot of my own punchcards and on my chunky machine, six-stitch floats are a bit long for a neat finish on the back of my work. Worse still are those even longer floats, which are sometimes unavoidable. There’s a limit to how many ‘odd dots’ I can put in here and there without spoiling the effect, so do you have any ideas? Many thanks and Happy New Year to one and all. Best wishes, Maggie

Thanks for asking Maggie and the usual thing we do is pick up the loops. After knitting the row that creates the long floats, use a single transfer tool to lift the middle of the float onto the needle above it. Push the appropriate needle forward, but not too far out of working position. Place the long loop in the open hook along with the newly-formed stitch, then push the needle back in line. If the float falls in a similar place on subsequent rows, don’t use the same needle each time. Move to an adjacent needle left or right so the loops are staggered and this will give a smoother result. Simply knit across the next row in the usual way. You should find that the long loops are safely caught up and their length is effectively halved. Using chunky weight yarn and a Fair Isle pattern, it’s almost undetectable from the front. As it’s done as you go along, there’s not much extra work. If there aren’t too many rows with long floats, you can always mark the punchcard so you’ll know when to stop.

Chase a rainbow

Dear Anne

As I’m fortunate enough to own a freestanding linker, I do a lot of stitch-to-stitch joining when making up garments. I’ve always found it easiest to work using a nylon cord for the first row of waste knitting, so I bought two of the multi-coloured packs to make sure I don’t run out. Last May, our daughter presented us with twin grandsons, so I’d lots of little garments to make. I found that I was constantly tripping over the ends of the ravel cords. So I cut both yellow cords into quarters, the pink cords into thirds and the green cords into half, leaving the blue and white cords full length. This gives me lots of versatility and I can easily identify the length by the colour. Yours sincerely, Judith