Sewing and craft volunteers needed to help homeless people this Christmas

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National homelessness charity Crisis is calling on keen knitters, craft enthusiasts and people with sewing and alteration skills to help boost homeless people’s self-esteem at their temporary centres this Christmas.

In its 50th anniversary year, Crisis at Christmas runs from 22nd to 29th December 2017 with centres set to open across London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Coventry and Edinburgh. One in four homeless people will face spending Christmas alone this year. With the homelessness crisis worsening, Crisis says the centres are needed now more than ever. As well as warmth, companionship and hot meals, guests will receive healthcare and specialist advice on housing, work and benefits. The sewing service team plays a vital role carrying out repairs to guests’ clothing and belongings, with a variety of roles on offer from experts at making and repairing clothes to keen enthusiasts who can help with basic tasks such as sewing on buttons and taking up hems. There are also roles available for people to run craft sessions in everything from knitting to T-shirt making, helping guests try something new and develop their skills. Crisis at Christmas centres are run by thousands of volunteers from all walks of life with registration now open at crisis.org.uk/volunteer.

Long-term volunteer Kerry Smith said:  “I started volunteering at Crisis five years ago after signing up as a general volunteer. Giving a little bit of my time to help others felt like the right thing to do. From the second I walked in I knew I had made the right decision. Seeing all the services available to those who needed it most and the enormous part the volunteers play in making it all happen blew me away!”

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “Without our volunteers, Crisis at Christmas simply wouldn’t exist to help provide a warm, safe place to those with nowhere to call home. It’s because of their generosity that we can bring thousands of people friendship, support, and life-changing services each and every Christmas. And though we work all year round to help people experiencing homelessness – we know that the Christmas season should be a special time for everyone and that no one should have to spend it alone. So as our charity turns 50, we will work harder than ever to make homelessness a thing of the past. And until then our volunteers will remain at the heart of what we do.”

More top tips

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Free download

I’m really enjoying Marianne Henio’s articles. I think she’s really generous allowing knitters to download her booklet ‘How to Design, Write and Convert your own knitting patterns’. My daughter, who lives in Canada, has just bought her first knitting machine so I’ve emailed Marianne’s offer to her. I agree with the reader who said that she’d not like to see MKM go digital, so keep that body of yours going! Kind regards, Julia

Grab Marianne’s free guide on ‘How to Design, Write & Convert your own Knitting Patterns’. It’s online at http://modernknittingpatterns.com/your-free-guide/

Find Marianne’s designs at http://modernknittingpatterns.com/

Follow Marianne on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mariannehenio

Follow Marianne on Pinterest at https://uk.pinterest.com/mariannehenio/boards/

Follow Marianne on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/900734820016110/

 

Figure it out

I’ve been with you from the start and we MKM readers are such a happy bunch and you are our excellent team leader. I thought we all might enjoy something apparently doing the rounds on the Internet right now, to keep our brains going. I don’t have a computer, but my grandson is a tease and got me thinking about it. It’s just a bit of fun and an excuse to sit with the magazine a bit longer instead of getting on with the housework. Roughly speaking, try to work out what these seven words all have in common. They are Banana, Dresser, Grammar, Potato, Revive, Uneven and Assess. I spent forever thinking about it and threatened to stop his pocket money if he didn’t tell me the answer! Like me, you’ll kick yourself when you know what it is. Best wishes, Marjorie

(In all the words listed, if you take the first letter and place it at the end, it spells the same word backwards. Joan Lafferty often reminds us that machine knitters are daft and this proves it!)

 

All tucked up

I’m writing in the hope that you can help me. I’ve some patterns for tuck lace, but I don’t have any books or manuals that explain how to do it on my Brother 836. My manual doesn’t seem to tell me so I hope you can help. Yours sincerely, Alison

Thanks for your letter Alison and Pattern 221 is a good example. It’s taken from Brother Punchcard Pattern Vol. 4. On Brother single bed machines you’ve a card that’s punched out with both a tuck and a lace pattern. After transferring stitches for the lace pattern with the lace carriage, you need to do one of two things.

  1. If the needles are selected, push the tuck button(s) and move the K carriage.
  2. If the needles are not selected, push the ‘plain’ lever and move the K carriage.

 

Double or drop

I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said to me recently and I agree with you. It is up to us ‘old hands’ to pass on some of the hints and tips we’ve learnt over a lifetime of machine knitting. I make a lot of hats for charity that need stitches to be pulled up before a bobble is attached. I’ve not forgotten this helpful hint from my To & Fro days. If we’ve to take stitches off the machine to pull up tightly, take a long thread and double it so the loose end overlaps the other by a couple of inches. Thread a double-ended tool or big tapestry needle with both strands and take the stitches off as usual, but keep an eye on the longer end so it doesn’t slip through. Once all the stitches are on the thread, gather up and sew securely straight away. The double thread gives extra strength, especially useful if we pull a bit too tight and the thread is in danger of breaking. Perhaps you could include a plea for more of us ‘oldies’ to pass on bits and pieces. All the best, Joyce

 

Timely reminder

Please remind readers to regularly check that the screws of the clamp holding the machine to the table are tight. I guess I’m not the only person to have had the machine land in my lap, so be warned! I’m just relieved that the ribber wasn’t attached at the time, or heaven knows what damage I might have done to myself. I’m a bit more careful when the ribber is attached, as I know the movement tends to work the screws loose. If you think about it, there’s not a lot holding to hold it in place anyway. By the time you’ve added weights and pushed the ribber up and down a few times, those small holding screws are bound to loosen. I guess I thought it wasn’t as necessary just using the single bed, but it is. Best wishes Mary

 

Pen friend

I’ve just been reading through a pile of old magazines and come across this trick I used to use. You need an empty clean Biro case, with quite a large opening at the tip. Unscrew everything because all you need is the open tube. Thread the yarn through the machine and carriage, then through the tube so it goes from the point and out of the other end. Now pull enough yarn through the tube for the length of your e-wrap. (I measure roughly three times the width of needles plus a bit.) If you’re right-handed wrapping from left to right, have the carriage at the left and use the pen holder to e-wrap just as if you were using a pen. When you get to the end, you can slide off the pen case without cutting the yarn, then knit the first row. The old ones are always the best! Yours sincerely Sylvia

 

Low down

I’m so low. I don’t understand what you mean when you start off patterns talking about doing something with a latch tool. I love my LK-150 and I can do simple stuff, but as soon as I see the words, ‘using a latch tool’ I freeze. I want to get better, but don’t know who to ask except you. Please can you help? Yours hopefully, Kate

Let’s sort this out for you Kate because using a latch tool to cast on makes a beautiful finished edge. First of all, make a slip knot in the end of the main yarn and slide it behind the latch. Push the needles you need right out to holding position. With the yarn at the right of the first needle, bring the latch tool up between the first and second needles at the right and hook the yarn over the first needle. Pull through the loop, but not too tightly. Repeat this between the second and third needles, then between the third and fourth and keep going all the way across. Finally, place the loop from the latch tool onto the last needle. All the needles are still in holding position so if you want them in working position, you can’t push all the needles back by hand or the loops will fall off. Simply use a transfer tool to take each needle back and leave the loops you made in the hook of each needle. You get a beautifully smooth chain edge and you’re then ready to knit.

 

Memory lane

I was thinking about dear Joan Lafferty the other day and do you remember her telling us one way she used to gather up a rib edge when she was making bobble hats and scarves for her market stall? It’ll perhaps help the newbies. She left an extra-long yarn end when she cast on. After knitting the zigzag row, you take the end of the yarn up between the beds, across the zigzag and down the other side. Hang onto the end until the first rib row is knitted, then you can release it. When the work is off the machine, you just pull up the rib stitches on this thread to gather it all up and then fasten off. Works a treat! Happy memories, Jenny

Great big shout out for Tom!

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Hi Anne

Greetings. I would like to share my experience with readers. After a 25-year hiatus from machine knitting to pursue career opportunities, I have retired and had hoped to return to this passion. While I had been vigilant about maintaining my machines, cleaning, oiling and changing sponge bars every six months, not once did I inspect my expansive collection of Mylar sheets, which had been stored in their original foil packaging. When I recently opened them, I was crushed to find they had virtually crumbled! While one of my machines is a 24-stitch punchcard, it still left my G-carriage unusable. At this point, I seriously considered selling my entire collection of machines, accessories and file cabinet stuffed with pattern books.

I decided to try to buy Mylar sheets, but with very limited success. I purchased five patterned Mylar sheets on eBay for a crazy price of $100 US! But, at least I was able to use my G-carriage. At that point, as luck would have it, I came across MKM’s list of Knitting Buddies! While there was not one buddy listed in Canada, there was a US buddy listed so I took a chance and contacted Tom in Las Vegas.

I cannot express to you how helpful Tom has been. He was gracious enough to provide me with not only the original pattern package, but blank sheets as well. But Tom’s help didn’t end there, he gave me the spark of encouragement I needed to soldier on. So, I would like to give a great big shout out for Tom! When readers are in need, MKM’s buddy list has proved to be invaluable to me. Thank you MKM for including this component in your magazine, it certainly has put me on a path to be a productive machine knitter – I hope!

Best wishes, Wendy

Will you knit socks for hospice patients for Christmas?

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Terminal illness charity, Marie Curie, is calling on knitters to make socks for the 229 patients who will be spending Christmas Day in one of its nine hospices. The charity is hoping the socks will bring some festive cheer to the in-patients, some of whom will be trying to enjoy their last Christmas with their family and friends. A doctor at the charity began knitting socks for her patients after reading about three sisters who were selling special yarn in aid of the charity.

Dr Sarah Holmes, Consultant at the Marie Curie Hospice in Bradford and keen knitter, said: “Each year we give every patient who is staying at the hospice over Christmas a small gift bag. After reading about a special yarn in Marie Curie colours it sparked an idea – to knit socks using the yarn and then add them to the gifts bags on Christmas Day.”

While Sarah had set out on knitting socks for patients at the Bradford hospice she has now taken her challenge nationwide: “I’m now aiming to give socks to every patient who will be staying in a Marie Curie hospice on Christmas Day but need some help – I need to make 229 pairs in total. I can’t quite believe what I’ve started but it’s really great to see fellow knitters getting involved and sending me socks.”

Can you help Sarah achieve her goal? To buy the special Marie Curie yarn from cityknits.co.uk click here.

Sisters Sally, Caroline and Julie, who run Christine’s Woolshop, are donating £2 from every sale of the yarn to the charity, after their mum was cared for by Marie Curie Nurses. If you need design inspiration Dr Holmes has posted a pattern for the socks here on Ravelry. You can also use yarn in Marie Curie colours – yellow, blue and white.

Please send your knitted socks to: Smita Mistry, Marie Curie Communications Dept. 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TP or you can contact her for more information on 020 7091 6650 / smita.mistry@mariecurie.org.uk

Time For Tea

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MKM Editor Anne writes: “It was a huge surprise for me to be called into the hall after the fashion show at Bournemouth this year. It had been a wonderful day of celebration as, between us, we’ve kept Machine Knitting LIVE! going for 20 years. It was even more of a bolt from the blue to be handed this absolutely fabulous cake. Could you ever believe that anyone could make something so amazing? It sat on a board edged with a tape measure and, from the bodkin to the buttons, everything was beautifully crafted by the exceptionally talented Margaret Hudson. She’s an enthusiastic and supportive member of Ringwood Machine Knitting Club and it’s probably fair to say she can be known to produce more unusual cake creations than machine knitting! Maureen Gulliver runs Ringwood and, together with Joy Hopkins and her Carbery Machine Knitting Club in Christchurch, they’ve been a backbone of strength and support for the Bournemouth Show. They knit garments and organise the fashion show, as well as demonstrating and offering a helping hand to all our visitors throughout the day. You’ve made the most amazing cake Margaret and I’m honoured that you’ve spent so much time and effort making it just for me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and I’m sure all the readers will join me in giving you a huge pat on the back. For once, you have the ‘thumbs up’ for heading to the kitchen instead of your knitting room and please accept my very sincere thanks.”

It’s showtime 2018 once more!

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Dear Readers

There’s been lots to think about for the last month or two. We’ve said a final goodbye to some much-loved names this year and many of us have already started to plan our 2018 diary. Keeping domestic machine knitting alive has been my lifetime’s work and many of you have reminded me that without our dedicated shows, machine knitting may well fade away. It will require lots of hard work, but I have the energy and enthusiasm to once again organise the Bournemouth and Nottingham shows. Many of you supported both events this year and said how much you’d like them to continue. However, none of us is as agile as we used to be and travelling isn’t quite as easy, so getting to the shows is no longer an option for some knitters. We’ve also lost one or two names, as designers and companies have closed down. Nevertheless there are lots of us still flying the flag for a craft we hugely enjoy and it will be my pleasure to gather us all together again.

The dates for your diaries are Saturday 3rd March 2018 for Machine Knitting LIVE! at Bournemouth School for Girls in Castle Gate Close, Castle Lane West, Bournemouth BH8 9UJ and Sunday 8th April 2018 at West Park Leisure Centre in Wilsthorpe Road, Long Eaton, Nottingham NG10 4AA for the Nottingham Show. Over the next few issues, I’ll bring you details of our exhibitors as well as events on the day. Whether you travel to the north or the south, do please try to visit one or both shows, to keep the flag flying.

Just as we go to press, I’ve some last-minute news to pass on. Alison Dupernex tells me that she’ll be at the St Ives Arts Club, Westcott’s Quay, St Ives, Cornwall for two weeks in 2018. Alison will be moving her machine and stock down to Cornwall and working there and I’ll give you full details next month. The diary dates are from 10th to 23rd February 2018 and she’s asked me to say that it would be lovely to see any readers who might be in the area at that time. Alison is also working on a book to be published soon and, again, I’ll let you have full details once I have the launch date. By now, you all know my reluctance to launch into Christmas when this issue goes to press in September. However, I promise to include lots of seasonal ideas next month so, until then, happy knitting our way.

NEXT ISSUE

December 2017

Subscription copies sent out Thursday 2nd November

On sale Thursday 9th November

 

This month’s top tips

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Get weaving

I was reading through some of my very old To & Fro magazines and spotted an absolute gem of advice from the real ‘old school’. (Happy memories of Joan Lafferty!) It’s about doing a weaving cast-on, which I so wanted to use but I’ve never got it to work for me. I’ve had a go at this tip and yes, it really does work so I’ll pass it on for the newbies. Well, first of all we’re told to lift up the end of yarn at the inner side of the carriage and move the carriage to and fro a bit before putting the yarn across the holding position needles. Sounds obvious, but I’d never done it. It lifts the yarn above the metal sinker plate and saves it catching in the brushes. Doh! Now the yarn is in the right place, you can put in the weaving brushes. I put both brushes in, though they actually say you just need the one on the inside leading edge of the carriage. When you come to close the hem, you just pick up the large loops from the cast on, onto every other needle. Here’s the best bit! Supposing you’ve a special needle set up, such as in tuck lace where some needles are out of work. You can still use the weaving cast on, as long as you bring forward every other working needle to holding position. Try it, it works fine!

What I truly had never heard is that all isn’t lost if you don’t have a cast on comb or any weaving brushes, such as on some earlier machines. Bring every other needle to holding position, knit the row and lay the nylon cord across in the usual way, between the needles and sinker posts. Bring out of work needles to working position and continue to knit. The effect is the same as the weaving cast on. After laying in the cord they say don’t forget to bring forward (a little bit) needles with stitches on, so the cord doesn’t get tangled up with the stitches. Good tip! Being able to do a weaving cast on has given me such a lot of confidence, after thinking I could never do it.

 

Have you any ideas for getting a really good rib cast on edge? I knit on a Brother and mine always look frilly and, frankly, a big mess. Hoping you can help please.

To get a fine rib edge on your Brother machine, use Tension 0/0 and set the slide lever at II for the cast on. You can actually wind the yarn anti-clockwise round the ribber joining knob to slow down the flow, as you need the cast-on to be as tight as possible. You can also try putting the ribber cams to tuck, just for the zigzag, but none of this works unless you pull down all the slack yarn at the back of the yarn tension arm before you start to knit! After the zigzag row, put in the ribber comb, but no weights, until you’ve done the circular rows, still at the same tension. Now add the weights and lay a nylon cord right across between the needles. Hold the ends below the beds, just for the first actual rib row. If the rib tension is to be (say) 4/4, do the first rib row around 2/2. When the work is off the machine, pull up the stitches on the nylon cord and tug the cord away from the work. This will straighten out the edge beautifully and is much easier than threading a fine knitting needle through the edge afterwards!

 

One great tip about making life easy for sewing up garments.

Fran McCarthy has made me really think back to my early knitting days and how much of a struggle it all seemed to be. One great tip I read was about making life easy for sewing up garments. If you’re using 1×1 rib, a simple trick for the cast on is to put one extra needle to work at the left on the ribber bed. After the first rib row, transfer it to the main bed so that two stitches are working side by side. The extra stitch gets taken into the seam in mattress stitch, corresponding with the one on the main bed at the other end, so the rib is continuous. For cardigans, put one extra stitch at each end on the back rib, but none on the front ribs. For 2×2 and 2×1 industrial rib, you don’t need to do anything. The normal set up joins perfectly when you mattress stitch the two pieces together. Isn’t that handy?

 

It’s the time of year for making winter warmers and I make lots of hats and scarves for charity. They’re nothing special, just gathered into a pom-pon for the top of the hats and ends of the scarves, so have you a quick way of gathering up a rib edge?

Thanks for asking Flo and you may also knit hats which are made double length then one edge is pushed inside the other. For the cast on edge, leave an extra-long end of yarn when you cast on. It needs to be about 20 cm longer than the width of the working needles on the machine. First knit the zigzag row. Now lift the end of yarn up between the beds, take it across the zigzag and down the other side of the work. Hold this end down until the first rib row is knitted and then you can release it. When the work is off the machine, just pull up the rib stitches on this thread and fasten off securely. Old hands will recognise this as something we did on a single bed machine when we couldn’t find our nylon cords to cast on!

 

I prefer to knit sideways bands on my cardigans, as I can’t stand all that sewing up. Is there anything I can do to stop the ends on the fronts pulling up? Pressing doesn’t work and, anyway, we can’t press acrylic unless we want to wreck everything. Don’t take it the wrong way, but did you do something in the dim and distant past I might not know about?

You need what we used to call a ‘flat rib’. One bed, usually the main bed, knits with all needles in work whilst you put into work the needles which will show the rib you want on the ribber. Here’s an example for a 2×2 flat rib. On the ribber, have two needles in work and two out of work all the way along. (Don’t forget the pitch set at H, of course!) You can’t cast on like this, so cast on in full needle rib and transfer the unwanted stitches from ribber to main bed. The alternative is to use a 1×1 rib cast on, transfer all stitches to the main bed (easy if you’ve a transfer carriage!) and then return the needles you need on the ribber to working position. If you just put the needles into work and knit, you’ll get small holes at the base of the rib, which you could get away with by calling it a design feature! Otherwise, you’ll have to fill up those needles with the heel of a stitch from the main bed. Hope this helps.

Country Knitting of Maine

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Linda Williams publishes the Country Knitting of Maine News & Magazine and she’d like to let International friends know that her magazine is now only available direct through her. If you’ve been buying it elsewhere, please get in touch with Linda at oth98@hotmail.com for a full update. With the recent changes, Linda has decided to make the current issue available as a PDF file. This means you can now print it in full colour or use it direct from your computer. If you don’t have a computer the magazine will still be published in the usual printed format. Linda tells us the PDF file will be available on each issue for 60 days and then the next issue will become the current PDF version. Back issues will not be available as PDFs, but you can always order printed copies. Contact Linda direct at Country Knitting Of Maine, 351 White Schoolhouse Road, Madison, ME 04950-3202, USA or check out her website at www.countryknittingofmaine.com

Bramwell 2000 wanted

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Hi
I’m looking for one or perhaps two cones of Bramwell 2000 in red/gold. I’ve tried everywhere with no luck, except for an eBay site and I don’t have an eBay account. Has anyone got a cone going spare and obviously I’m willing to pay. Thanks in advance for any help.