Countdown to crafting

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The Knitting & Stitching Show, opens two weeks today in Harrogate. The Harrogate show attracts thousands of visitors and there is no better place to get great ideas, learn new skills and meet like-minded people.  The show hosts Textile Galleries featuring work by world-leading artists and groups, competition-winning quilts from The Festival of Quilts and a showcase of work by leading textile graduates.  Weavers, spinners, embroiderers, lace and braid makers will be demonstrating their skills and there will be textile artists at work in a live studio environment (Artists in Action, in association with Art Van Go).

Expert tutors will be teaching over 230 workshops (in association with Groves) and classes, from rag rugging to up-cycling, embroidery to dressmaking, and there’s something for everyone, from complete beginners to seasoned stitchers.  For those planning a homemade, hand-stitched Christmas, festive makes include delicate book folded angels made from recycled books, needle-felted robins, decoupage baubles and patchwork Christmas stockings, plus hundreds of handmade textile gift ideas like cushions, scarves, bags, underwear and jewellery.  For the crafter in your life (or an early Christmas treat for yourself), there’s plenty of opportunity for Christmas craft shopping, with hundreds of fabric retailers, yarn companies and specialist suppliers under one roof.

‘Yarn Doctors’ from UK Hand Knitting will be teaching knitting and crochet at their Drop-in clinic, and are inviting crafters to stitch and decorate stockings for their annual Christmas Stocking Appeal.  Stockings will be transformed into decorations which are being sold at the show in aid of mental health charity Mind and donated to care homes and hospices.   Free stocking patterns are available on the UKHK website and finished stockings can be donated at the Harrogate show or sent (with maker’s name and address) to: UKHK, 60 Bridge Road East, Welwyn Garden City, Herts AL7 1JU.

The show has teamed up with world-famous Betty’s tea room to hold The Knitted Tea Room competition.  From cakes to tea cosies, cups and saucers to sandwiches, the show organisers are looking for a sumptuous spread of knitted or crocheted tea room items.  Entries will be displayed throughout the show and the judges will be looking for innovative and beautifully made pieces.  Judging takes place on Sunday 26th November and the winner will receive a Betty’s Christmas Hat Box worth £75, packed full of Betty’s festive delicacies.  Items should be sent before 15th November to: The Knitted Tea Room competition, twistedthread, 58 White Lion St, London N1 9PP, or brought along to the show before Sunday 26th November.  Tea cosy and cupcake patterns can be found on the show’s competition website.

Dressmakers and sewing bees can enjoy a dedicated workshop programme in the Dressmaking Studio (in association with Vlieseline Freudenberg) and expert advice about working with patterns at The Sew Today Pattern classroom (in association with the McCall Pattern Company).  For those keen to show off their handmade vintage handiwork, the glamorous McCall Pattern Company Cocktail Party in aid of the Eve Appeal is the place to be seen.  

The Harrogate show will be collecting stitched signatures for an embroidered petition by the Campaign for Creativity, a campaign by leading textile artists, designers and craftspeople to protect creative and craft subjects in education.  The stitched petition will be presented to the Education Secretary later this year.

Tickets for The Knitting & Stitching Show Harrogate cost £14.50 in advance (concessions £13) with a wide selection of options available at or by calling 0844 581 1319 (+44 0121 796 6100 from outside the UK).

Help for American & Canadian knitters

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If you live in the USA or Canada, you might like to know that we ​send out copies from the UK, but we also also ​offer a bespoke service. Dorothy and Bernie Rosman are our distributors for the USA and Canada and they look after all our readers personally. They sell new Silver Reed knitting machines, used Brother, Knitking, Studio and Silver Reed models as well as carrying many needed parts for Brother, Studio, Singer and Silver Reed knitting machines. Machine Knitting Monthly can be ordered direct from and they also distribute Machine Knitting Monthly by subscription or single copies.


Check it out

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Dear Readers

I’d just returned from a family dash to Scotland, when Joan Fielding-Browne called to say hello. Sadly, we were in too much of a hurry to stop off at her shop and studio in Galashiels, but Joan tells me that her Aladdin’s cave is now fully stocked. She sells hand and machine knitting yarn, knitting and sewing machines, tables, cabinets and lots of accessories including DesignaKnit. She has gift packs, knitting patterns and everything you’d ever need for crochet, embroidery and tapestry. She’s very knowledgeable and always makes time to talk to old and new customers, so do call her on 01896-850734. Joan has recently rebuilt her website and you can check it out at

I’ve heard from Maggie Andrews recently and she tells me that as she’s now nearly 80, she’ll be retiring very soon. She’s sold the copyright of all her booklets and pattern leaflets to our friend Linda Williams of Country Knitting of Maine at and many of us go back a long way in machine knitting. Maggie reminded me that we go back 25 years to 1992. Her decision means that she’s selling off the residual stock of her booklets and patterns, at reducing prices, until they’re all gone. You’ll find them on eBay, so make sure you don’t miss the opportunity if there are any gaps in your collection as once they’re gone, they’re gone. I’m sorry to say that Maggie is no longer able to knit, but urges us to keep going and sends us all good wishes for the future. She’s made a significant contribution to our craft, whilst not enjoying the best of health for many years, so I know you’ll all join me in wishing her a content and comfortable retirement.

I’m so pleased to hear that members of Mapperley Knit & Natter will join us at the Nottingham Show on 8th April 2018. We’ve often mentioned Ann Matthews in the magazine and she’s an amazing knitter who is truly one of Joan Lafferty’s ‘old hands’. Ann’s knitting is superb and her finishing is outstanding, so it’s wonderful to know that she’ll bring her electronic machine to demonstrate, as well as display some of her garments. Fellow club members will join in the fun and this friendly group is always happy to answer any questions you may have, so it will definitely be a ‘hot spot’ at the show.

At this time of the year, all that remains is to settle down with a cuppa and dig out all your old magazines to knit some festive favourites for friends and family. Until next time, happy knitting!

NEXT ISSUE January 2018

Subscription copies sent out Thursday 7th December

On sale Thursday 14th December

Ask your newsagent to reserve a copy now.

Warm & Cosy

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As winter draws in, it’s time to start thinking about making our homes as warm and toasty as possible. Statistics reveal that draughts are responsible for 10% of heat loss in the average home and up to 25% in some households. That’s a lot of heat to lose, especially in the coldest weeks of the year. By draught-proofing, households can save between £25 and £55 per person on the annual energy bill. What’s more, draught proofing can be a cheap and painless (even fun!) activity. If you’re a machine knitter, you’ll have a cosy strip made in next-to-no time, but if you’d like a bit of inspiration First Utility has put together an illustrated guide. It details the steps of making your own caterpillar draught excluder. Share this handy idea with your hand-knitting friends, so they can knit their own colourful caterpillar to keep the family warm throughout the winter. It’s a simple guide – perfect for both beginners and seasoned knitters who want to try something a bit different. Follow the link:

Craft Central Winter Market

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Craft Central will hold its first Winter Market in its new London home, The Forge, from 24th to 26th November, bringing together over 50 talented craftspeople to sell handmade products ranging from home accessories, fashion and jewellery to ceramics, stationery, prints and more. This festive event is a chance for visitors to meet and shop directly from designer-makers, explore Craft Central’s imaginatively converted 19th century Victorian forge building, take part in one of the family craft workshops and and enjoy a drink in the pop-up café. The Winter Market will feature work by makers selected from Craft Central’s network of 700 designer-makers, including: Frank Horn’s handcrafted leather accessories made in London using vegetable-tanned leather; Rachel Cox’s functional ceramic tableware created in a range of block colours; geometric, monochrome lino-cut prints by Charis Tsang; and knitted home accessories by Kate Jones, which she creates using natural fibres that are spun and dyed in the British Isles.  Products on sale at the Winter Market will range in price from £2.50 to £500.

Craft Central is a charity that has supported craftsmanship and craftspeople in the UK for 40 years. It moved to The Forge in the Isle of Dogs, East London in September. This Grade II listed iron works has been imaginatively converted to provide creative studios, workshops, offices, shared work spaces and the Exhibition Hall.  By moving to the Isle of Dogs, Craft Central is bringing design and making back to an area of traditional industry. The Winter Market is part of Craft Central’s ongoing programme of public events at The Forge, which include open studio events and its popular Craft It Yourself workshops, positioning the building as a destination in its own right and bringing new commercial life into the area.  Through these events, Craft Central will also become a creative hub for the local community.

Opening hours are Friday 24th November 5.00 to 8.00 pm (late opening event). Saturday 25th November 11.00 am to 6.00 pm. Sunday 26th November 11.00 am to 5.00 pm. There’s free entry and no advance booking is required.

Craft Central is at The Forge, Westferry Road 397-411, London E14 3AE. The Forge is close to the river and within easy access of Greenwich, Canary Wharf and Surrey Quays. It’s a five-minute walk from Mudchute station on the DLR. There’s free on street parking after 5.30 pm on  weekdays and all weekend. Discover more at  Instagram / Twitter / Facebook: @CraftCentralUK


Knit For Peace

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KnitFest Logo

NOVEMBER 5th 2017

Responding to the knitting craze that’s sweeping the country, Knit for Peace, a charity with 20,000 volunteer knitters, donating their knitting for those in need at home and abroad, is holding a stylish new event: The Great Knitfest 2017.

Following on from the tradition of craft exhibitions at Chelsea Old Town Hall, the KnitFest offers it all: courses, shopping, talks, learn to knit sessions. Expert knitters from around the country have sent in wonderfuly handmade items; baby clothes, scarves, blankets, all to be sold in aid of Knit for Peace’s work around the world.

At The Great Knitfest you can:

  • Learn to knit with experienced knitters
  • Improve your knitting skills with courses from the country’s leading designers
  • Buy specially designed kits for knitting and crochet that are being launched at the KnitFest
  • Get unusual yarns and knitting accessories
  • Unusual gifts with a knitting theme
  • Find real charity Christmas cards at the Card Aid pop-up store
  • Have fun at our old-fashioned Christmas fair with bran tubs, tombola, bowling, and all the fun of the fair
  • Hear about knitting holidays – from India to Edinburgh!
  • Buy Good Gifts to support those in need worldwide

For general enquiries, please e-mail: or phone 0207 794 9835

Join an autumn charity knit and crochet project

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This is the time of year when many of us turn our thoughts and needles to knitting gifts for Christmas and the UK Hand Knitting Association hopes we can find a bit of time to help with their Christmas Appeal. Last year they asked us to knit or crochet festive stockings which they turned into strings of bunting and sent them out to care homes, hospices, lunch clubs and even a food bank. They had more than 1,100 stockings arrive at their office and were amazed with the generosity of knitters.

This year they’re again asking us for Christmas stockings and there are three patterns on their website to help you. They’ll be turning the stockings into Christmas decorations, so feel free to decorate them with beads or sequins. If you’re visiting Yarndale or The Knitting and Stitching shows at Alexandra Palace and Harrogate they’ll be selling these stockings to raise money for Mind, a wonderful charity that works for better mental health for everyone and who are well known for their Crafternoon campaign.

Any stockings that are left over will be sent out to care homes, hospices etc, so if you know of an organisation that would like some stockings please do let them know by emailing

If you’ve a bit of spare yarn and half an hour, please consider making a stocking for their Christmas Appeal. You can drop your stockings off at the shows mentioned above or please send them to UK Hand Knitting, 60 Bridge Road East, Welwyn Garden City, Herts AL7 1JU and please include your name and address so they can be sure to thank you.

Thank you for being so wonderful.

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

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

Find Marianne’s designs at

Follow Marianne on Twitter at

Follow Marianne on Pinterest at

Follow Marianne on Facebook at


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