Knits to fit and flatter

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Although it’s a hand knitting book, sizes are from 32 to 34 inches up to 48 to 50 and measurement diagrams are included to give us an idea of the basic width and length required to achieve the look. Jane Ellison is a talented British designer with considerable success in knitwear design and she began designing for Debbie Bliss in London. The designs she’s created are innovative, modern and fun yet always totally wearable and it’s a great book for inspiration.

David & Charles, Brunel House, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 4PU
0870-990 8222
Publisher David and Charles Edition Paperback ISBN-10 0715331469 ISBN-13 9780715331460 Size 265 x 210 mm Illustrations 200 colour photographs Pages 128 RRP £14.99

Machine Knitting Live 2009 at Bournemouth

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It was indeed exceptional, except for one thoroughly mean act brought to my attention at the end. One of the stands hoped to sell a couple of wool winders. They had been donated and the proceeds were to be donated to a worthy cause. £10 was asked for one that holds a plastic cap and the other was £7.50. The show was very crowded and the exhibitor couldn’t always see what was going on at the other end of her stand. When the crowds cleared, the £10 wool winder had gone and not been paid for. Perhaps it was unintentional or maybe too tempting when other winders were being sold at the show for around £30? It left all of us wondering how much more stock had gone the same way. Surely the vast majority of knitters are honest and fair minded? This miserly person won’t ruin it for the rest, but it was a bitter pill to swallow on an otherwise lovely day.

On to happier things and I managed to have a quick word with Beryl Jarvis. We were all thrilled to know that Jeffery now has a permanent job. He’s proudly showing off the medals he won in China on the front of a leaflet for the Special Olympics in Leicester in July this year. (Lord Mayor’s Special Olympics Appeal, Leicester Games 2009 Ltd, c/o A12 New Walk Centre, Welford Place, Leicester LE1 6ZG.) Beryl also mentioned that Uppingham Summer School will take place again this year from Monday 10th to Friday 14th August. We’ll include full details next time, but one of the courses fills quickly and they often have to turn people away. Beginners and experienced knitters are welcome and Brother punchcard machines are available, or take your own. If you can’t wait until next month, contact Uppingham Summer School, 34 Stockerston Road, Uppingham, Rutland LE15 9UD, telephone 01572-820800 or visit

Also received just too late for Newsline this issue was a note from Dorothy Hughes who is Regional Officer for GMK. She’s organising an exhibition at Living Crafts in Hatfield from Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th May 2009. This is held in the grounds of Hatfield House. We’ll see Dorothy at the Nottingham Show so if there’s any more information, we’ll include it next time.

Christmas is on the way!

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We’ve another fabulous idea worked out on the machine by Dianne Bunyan and you’ll find her pattern for a scarf and hat on page 24. Diane has produced a fascinating stitch design that shows on the right side and is completely hidden on the reverse. This means that the beanie can be pulled down and worn as a plain navy hat, or have the brim turned back to show the intricate eyelet holes with a navy backing. Any small pattern repeat of six rows can be used and it really is a new technique to try. Our packed issue has meant we’ve had to hold over news from Anne Reid about Undy YarnCrafts’ move to a country park outside Lydney. We’ve also had to postpone Norman Whitfield’s return to our pages, but they’re both waiting in the wings.

Our cover design this time is from Clair Crowston and knitted in a gorgeous DK acrylic yarn from James C Brett. Marble is 100% acrylic in 15 marled and variegated colourways. Texere is selling it online, so it’s sure to be a website winner as well. At just £1.75 per 100g ball, you’ll just go into the third ball and there can be no grumbles at looking as good as our cover girl for £5.25!

Finally, don’t miss Carl Boyd’s easy-to-make clutch bag on page 16. You need just 100 grams of yarn plus a few bits and bobs to be bang on trend. There’s still time to check if there are any vacancies for Carl’s Hands On week at Metropolitan. The date is Monday 23rd to Friday 27th November, from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm each day, at a fee of only £175. Call Carol Hocknell now on 01270-628414 to see if she can fit you in. Carl will be with them for the whole week as a tutor. It’s a unique opportunity to absorb and put into practice his innovative ideas. If you wish you can make this bag or any of his designs, with his special finishing touches and expert guidance.

Getting it right

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I read all of your articles, and especially look forward to Joan Lafferty each month – she makes me laugh a lot and even my husband asks what she is up to this month. Could you publish a picture of her please? It feels like having a conversation with an old friend reading one of her articles with good humour and some important tips. I enclose my subscriptions for the next 14 months and look forward to more ideas, techniques and articles.

Many thanks
Sue Frost
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Eye catching

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One problem I have is tinnitus and I discovered that the noise of the carriage made it much worse, so I shall now have to save up for an electronic. Having done very little knitting since Christmas, the workroom has been empty. However, I did manage to finish something I’d virtually completed last year. I’d promised myself a wall-hanging and it was in four panels – two in the centre with Siamese cats (still, after 40-odd years!) and two end panels with single and double ‘ladders’, into which I threaded multi-coloured lightweight chunky. I trimmed the fringe and my son put up a long pole. I made four hangers and then we put it up on the rear wall of the living room so it draws the eye as you enter the door.

Perhaps the recession will persuade people to get ‘doing’, as we did during the war. I remember getting cards of sock darning wool from Woolworths and wherever else, when I couldn’t spare clothes coupons for ‘real wool’. We used it to make the ankle socks we all wore to save wear on the heels and toes of our very precious (and very scarce!) stockings. I also used up all the oddments of 3-ply I could find to make a stripy front for a jumper when I could only get enough wool for the back and sleeves – and very dashing it looked, too. I’m knitting very simple socks at present, because I have chronically cold feet. Cast on sixty stitches on one needle, divide on to three needles as you knit the first round; 6ounds in rib, 20 in pattern (often double moss stitch) then another 6 rounds rib and knit a fold line – purl one, knit one, instead of knit one, purl one. Naturally, if you were a purist you turned the sock! After that there’s 20 rows rib followed by 20 rows stocking stitch (what else), then divide for the heel of your choice. Finally, stocking stitch for the length of the foot and turn the sock through before decreasing for the toe. You were then on the wrong (purl) side, which made the toe grafting easier.

The trouble came when you lost a needle, because it was impossible to buy steel sock needles during the war, all the metal had gone to the war effort! To do your sock on two needles, you planned the seam for the centre back, knitted as far as the heel, then left 15 stitches each end for the heel. You continued the front foot to the toe and then did a ‘short row’ toe; as you continued back up the foot, you picked up and ‘knitted in’ a stitch on each side as far as the heel – where you knitted another ‘short row’ toe and grafted the stitches to your 15+15 stitches and sewed up the back leg seam – just like socks on the machine! It helps to look back and have a laugh!

Best wishes
Edna Cahill
Isle of Wight

Festival of Quilts

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From 20th to 23rd August 2009 at the NEC Birmingham, over 250 companies will be selling masses of hard-to-find patchwork and quilting supplies. The Quilt Academy programme includes over 75 Masterclasses, workshops and lectures and the Quick & Easy workshops provide another 160 sessions for beginners. With over 1,000 quilts on display, The Festival of Quilts is a stunning visual feast. Book now and save money on advance tickets and here are contact details for more information.
The Festival of Quilts, Creative Exhibitions Ltd, 8 Greenwich Quay, London SE8 3EY.
Tel 020 8692 2299

Back on track

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I would recommend anyone who has not done so to obtain the reinforced extension rails if using either KG88 model, especially if trying out garter stitch and lace. It’s tedious when you have to keep removing and replacing the back rail, as the garter carriage and the lace carriage both lock into the drive belt. I recently tried a small sample of this and it looked super, well worth the hassle on a small area but not worth doing for the whole garment. However, I haven’t got the reinforced extension rails and the garter carriage looked a bit precarious when sitting on the normal rail! I think that later Brother machines came with these fitted as standard.

If the small magnets on the back rail sections come off, they can be glued back on with a small dot of superglue – and yes, this has happened to me! The point about the sponge bar cannot be emphasised enough. If it is completely dead then the garter carriage will stop at the first needle in WP as the needle is too high for the carriage to move over. The main carriage is more forgiving, so you may not notice the problem until you come to use the garter carriage. A simple test is if there is any vertical movement in the needles at the business end (that is, the hook) when in WP then the sponge bar needs checking.

Also a good idea is if you are resting the machine for any significant time is to remove the sponge bar from the machine until you go to knit with that machine again. No need to do this with the Passap and Pfaff of course, but here any damaged needles must have their hooks broken off before being removed or serious and expensive damage happens to the retaining spring. I wouldn’t be surprised if machine knitting sees something of a resurgence in the recession, making a one-off garment for a fraction of the cost of buying a designer label item is a strong incentive. Keep up the good work!

Katharine Humphries
Poole, Dorset

Missing link

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So I now have a Brother linker all due to MKM. I have two Brother machines and hadn’t thought about accessories at all.

Thank you for the article.
Best wishes from Ronda Green

I have had knitting machines since 1957.

I took a break for 5 years (back probs – eased by cortisone jabs into spine) and have now returned to my Brother kh970; my Knitmaster 321. All seemed to be o.k. (i ordered new sponge bars) until I started up the kg95 garter carriage. There was a grinding noise which turned out to be a long silver metal object which slots into a metal rectangle (called a foot??) a full installation is quite expensive and as the gizmo only fits into 2 slots.

Is it possible to obtain one and fit it myself? Any advice is welcome please.

Wendy (down-under)

2009-11-20 07:56:18


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Over 100 stalls offer a wide range of high quality fibres, yarns, textiles and textile craft equipment. There are workshops and seminars on weaving, spinning, sock machines and knitting including Sasha Kagan lecturing on knit and crochet techniques. There’s free entry to Coldharbour Mill working wool museum with over 200 years of textile history. Visitors can sit, knit, chat and exchange ideas and admire animals that produce fibre such as sheep, goats and alpacas. Advance ticket prices start at £6.50 for one day for adults with children under 14 at £5.50. There are further savings for weekend tickets. For more information and to buy tickets contact Fibrefest, PO Box 8, Lynton, North Devon EX35 6WY.
Tel 01598-752490 or 01884-841442



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The book provides readers with all the information they need to hand knit, as well as customising and designing their own sweaters. Beginners will love the straightforward patterns with comprehensive explanations and for more advanced knitters, the book teaches how a sweater is constructed, so they can take that knowledge beyond simply knitting a pattern exactly as given. Publisher David & Charles Edition paperback ISBN 978-1-60061-096-7 Size 279 x 216 mm Illustrations 200 colour Pages 144 Price £14.99 For stockists, buy online from or call the customer hotline on 0844-880 5851

David & Charles, Brunel House, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 4PU