June update

Dear Readers

There’s been lots going on this month and it all started with a deluge of requests for Bill King’s patterns. By the time I’d searched through the back issues from 2011 to 2021, it became obvious I needed to print them again. I’ve started with perhaps the most sought after, the All In One on Page 32 and new readers may wonder what all the fuss is about. So, let me say that every machine knitter can knit Bill’s top on any machine, in whatever yarn comes to hand. It’s a simple, classic and timeless design, that’s also very easy to knit. The only making up is threading the end of yarn back into the cords you knit at the start and finish. Spider’s Web is the next obvious choice and I’ll include it in August.

I’ve also had lots of calls and emails asking why we no longer include For Sale adverts at the back of the magazine. You’ll remember that everything faded away during the pandemic. We could no longer drive or collect machines and equipment from one another. No-one advertised, so there was little point in offering this free service. If you’d like it to return, you need to let me know and for word to spread, let’s say by the end of July. Please drop me a line or send an email, as the phone is often very busy. It’s always been a service for private sellers, not for those in business and that’s how it will remain if we reinstate it.

Another request from some of you is that we bring back Knitting Buddies. For new readers, it was also a free service of volunteers with a reasonable knowledge of machine knitting, that might be on one machine only. They gave help and advice over the phone to beginners, or those returning to machine knitting after a break. Sadly we’ve lost some former Knitting Buddies and others have retired. If you’d like to volunteer, please let me know, again by letter or email. I’m sure there will be a new team we can put together, for everyone’s benefit.

Finally I’ve been in touch with Soft Byte, to chat about the free trial that’s available for DesignaKnit. It’s something that’s always been offered, but not many people seem to realise it’s there. With the current financial climate as it is, you may well want to find out more and try before you buy. Claire Newberry is a DesignaKnit expert and she writes for us each month. So if you’d like to know more about this garment shaping and stitch pattern design program for hand and machine knitting, full details and a QR code are on Page 7. Until next month, knit happy.

NEXT ISSUE August 2024

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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

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December Update

Dear Readers

As you’ll read on Page 10, Doug Bristow’s funeral has taken place and my sadness at his passing has been replaced by many happy memories. A year or two after I first published the magazine, Doug and Brenda opened Heathercraft Knitting Machine Centre and their shop has been running for over 35 years. At that time, machine knitting was one of the most popular crafts. There were a huge number of small shows and large exhibitions up and down the country. Anyone selling anything to do with machine knitting loaded up their vehicle and set off for a day trip or a five-day marathon.

In those heady days, exhibitors soon got to know one another. I was in a small group that included Nick at Uppingham Yarns, John at B Hague & Co, Chris at Riverside Yarns and designer Jan Wright. Doug and Brenda brought up an ‘honourable rear’, as timekeeping was never their forte! After setting up the day before the show, we’d all stay in a Premier Inn (or similar!) and enjoy an evening meal together. It was one such time when the five of us learned that Doug and Brenda had met at a flying club. It was the end of the 60s and Doug would take her on trips when she got her pilot’s licence in 1971. Love blossomed… as they say! The couple were married in September 1973, so were able to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary just before Doug’s passing in October. As their older son Alan said at the funeral, Doug was: “Curious, eclectic, gregarious and intelligent. He was full of mirth, quips and silliness. He was also patient, persistent and always responsible”. Alan describes perfectly the man I knew.

Doug’s funeral was one of those rare events, conducted by someone who actually knew him. For the first time I’ve seen, the coffin remained in view until the very end of the service, not enclosed in faded curtains and lowered on squeaking apparatus crying out for a drop of oil. Everyone was of an age to remember the comedy song written by Eric Idle for Monty Python. Courtesy of the Order of Service, there were all the words. The vicar whistled and joined in the chorus. Toes tapped, hips swayed with the beat and everyone smiled as they sang:-

If life seems jolly rotten

There’s something you’ve forgotten

And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing

When you’re feeling in the dumps

Don’t be silly chumps

Just purse your lips and whistle, that’s the thing


Always look on the bright side of life

Always look on the right side of life

The video recording of the service is on Heathercraft’s website (https://www.heathercraft.co.uk/)and Brenda tells me she’ll leave it there for a little longer. It’s also her intention to keep the shop open. This lovely man fixed our machines and sorted out our wonky attachments. He found genuine sponge bars, needles and spares for Heathercraft, as well as many other shops in the country. He was also the best-ever dad and husband and a great friend to all those who really knew him. You have our love and support, Brenda, as we send our sincere condolences to you, Alan and Peter, your worldwide family and many friends. Rest in peace, Doug; you were one in a million.

NEXT ISSUE February 2024

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November Update

Dear Readers

At this time of the year, we’ve six weeks to go before turning ourselves into the kitchen’s Dream Queen, though there’s still time to do a bit of festive knitting. As Joan Lafferty used to say: “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, it’s only a roast dinner”! One thing’s for sure; if we run out of time, most goodies will be buy one, get two free by then and Easter eggs will be on promotion!

The best quick ‘n’ easy idea I’ve seen in a long time is a removable Santa motif that’s the brainchild of Carole Dunkerley. For several years, she’s delighted us with last-minute makes and this year is no exception. Ten minutes at the machine is all you need, to turn any sweater, even a bought one, into a Christmas jumper. Carole made a small one for a baby’s jumper and with a bit more time you could knit a matching back and make a small toy to pop in a stocking. Add one to the ends of a scarf, a hat, or perhaps turn a pillowcase into a Santa Sack. You could also go to town on an LK-150 or chunky machine and knit a splendid giant size. The joy of it is that when the festivities are over, the stitching is quickly undone to leave a perfectly wearable garment throughout the year. It’s a great idea and thank you Carole for sharing it with us. We also need to thank Diane, for writing to us with her similar idea in Dear Anne.

If Santa’s not your style, then we’ve lots to whet your appetite this month. Barbara Faulkner, Susan Guagliumi and Bill King share some super ideas and Claire Newberry digs deep into the DAK programme for a tool that’s hidden away. Karin Rogalski starts a new series to keep us warm on a budget and Dee Crew turns Card 1 into a crochet-look braid. Iris Rowe makes a welcome return to Toy Box and Stash Box has a much-loved Pippin Design from Ruth Cox. It’s our usual mixed bag that I hope you’ll enjoy.

As I was on the point of sending this to the printer, I had a phone call and I’ve been dithering about whether or not to mention the conversation. Knowing there’s only the time and space for a short message in this issue, I must let you all know that the call was from Brenda Bristow. She told me the very sad news that her husband Doug has died. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year and the two of them grew Heathercraft into one of machine knitting’s long-standing, flagship names. For the time being Heathercraft will continue trading, though Brenda will need some time and space in the immediate future to readjust. I’ll bring you more news next time, but I know you’ll join me in sending our sincere condolences to Brenda, their two sons and all members of the family.

NEXT ISSUE January 2024

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October update

Dear Readers

Autumn is a busy time of year, as we settle down to some serious knitting and, with perfect timing, Yeoman Yarns has a fabulous offer for us. From 5th to 31st October, we can save 10% on all our yarn purchases from Yeoman Yarns. It’s a huge saving, but you need to use the code MKM10 with no spaces and typing a zero ‘0’ not a capital ‘O’. Do fill any gaps now, as the code won’t work outside of these dates. It’s also not one of those offers that runs on… and on… and never ends. When it’s gone, it’s gone!

I caught up with Nic Corrigan at the Machine Knit Community recently and felt so envious of the 16 machine knitters who spent six days on a Machine Knitting Retreat in West Yorkshire. The organisation was lots of hard work for Nic and her team, but the camaraderie made it a really special time for everyone. You can read all about it in Clubline on Page 10 and the Machine Knit Community is a very special place. You’ll find full details at www.machineknit.community

Saving on fuel for economy and ecology has been a topic for some time and dressing warmly instead of cranking up the heating is something we can all do. Karin Rogalski has been working on some new ideas because, as she reminds us, mittens or gloves covering our fingertips are none too practical for doodling on a smartphone! Her designs for keeping our hands and wrists warm will include all machines, with or without patterning devices or ribbers. Her mini-series will start next month, so it’s time to head for your stash! If you turn to Dear Anne on Page 12, you’ll see a letter Karin sent, letting us know about Sue from Knit It Now. Sue is collecting data about machine knitting clubs and tells us how every UK club could be highlighted on the map. To put your mind at rest, she uses a secure way to pass on the information without disclosing personal details, so do check it out at www.knititnow.com

Also in Dear Anne I’ve included a special request for anyone who might have a ribber to sell for a Brother KH260. A while ago I worked with Sally on a charitable project and she generously gave away lots of her machines and accessories to a very worthy cause. Yes, you’ve guessed, she’s now in need of a ribber herself. If you can help, please give me a call and I’ll put you in touch. 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 and patterns next month so, until then, happy knitting our way.

NEXT ISSUE December 2023

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August 2023 update

Dear Readers

I’ve had fun this month, keeping up with Bill King and his latest project. It started off when he sent me the photo, on Page 54, of hanks of yarn drying in the sun. I loved it and asked him to tell me more. It seems he was given a raw fleece and decided to have a go at spinning some yarn. Having not used his spinning wheel for a long time he admits he was a bit rusty. However, the hypnotic pleasure of drawing out the carded fleece soon took over. He admits the yarn was rather uneven, but there was huge satisfaction in watching the hanks of yarn pile up. He plied two ends of his spun yarn together and was fully intending to hand knit it, but set off in a different direction before he found a pair of needles.

A trip to his freezer revealed some damsons and black currants that needed using. Then, inspired (of course!) by Alison’s article last month, he was side-tracked into a colour change. Having dyed the hanks with the fruit, such was his excitement to see it knitted, he abandoned thoughts of rather slow hand knitting in favour of his chunky machine.

It’s a matter of opinion, but I agree with Bill that machine knitting can be compatible with hand-spun yarn. However, feeding the yarn manually rather than threading it through the tension mast helps to take away some of the mechanised neatness of machine knitting. The uneven nature of the dye, with some hanks taking more colour than others, changed the colour of Bill’s original raw fleece to a lovely Ombré dusky purplish grey. Turn to Page 11 and you’ll see him wearing his new sweater. I asked him (nicely!) to tell me what he’d done and he’s sent me the basics. I’ve turned it into a pattern, hoping it may inspire some of you to try something a bit different and it’s coming in our October issue.

This month Bill turns his hand to some amazing stitch transfer patterns with his much-loved 7-prong tool and Alison has been knitting a wall of colour. Barbara’s stunning jacket and skirt is an all-time classic and next month they’ll be joined by Susan Guagliumi. She’s sent us two gorgeous sweaters – one is a boxy tweed sweater and the other is a top with a twist. The fronts are knitted extra-long, then grafted together at the back neck. The extra length is given a quick twist before it’s slipped over the head, to create a draped, scarf-like front. You’ll love both designs and we’re so fortunate to have la crème de la crème in the magazine. Until next time, knit happy!

NEXT ISSUE October 2023

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July 2023 update

Dear Readers

After the cold, wet and miserable start to the year, hosepipe bans are a sure sign that summer has arrived, so I’ve included some pretty tops this time. Adapt them to suit your mood, stash or machine. If time is short, use variegated yarn for instant colour. Change a cable into a lace panel and remember that a row of lace holes over alternate needles is a great way to break up a simple stripe. With the prospect of fine weather and the inevitable clutter in the garden rather than the kitchen, why not join Alison Dupernex and her ideas for hand dyeing with indigo.

It always seems to be this time of the year when you ask me for details about TWAM (Tools With A Mission). Each year, this Christian charity sends around 20 containers filled with over 300 tonnes of refurbished tools to support local people in their own community. TWAM will take manual, electric and treadle sewing machines, knitting machines including yarn and needles, lots of haberdashery such as needles, cottons, large material pieces or rolls of fabric plus buttons and zips. They’ll also take tools for agricultural workers, builders, carpenters, electricians, motor mechanics and plumbers, as well as power tools and items from workshops. Children’s educational books are also passed on. Tools with a Mission is at 2 Bailey Close, Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 0UD. Call them on 01473-210220 or visit www.twam.uk

Patricia Dadson runs the Knitaholics club in Romford and there’s a thriving machine knitting community in that part of Essex. Her sad news, just too late for last month’s magazine, was that Edwina Dunham passed away at the end of May aged 73 years. Edwina had been in hospital after a fall and then suffered a stroke. She’ll be missed by all the Essex clubs, as she not only supplied their machines but was willing to demonstrate and deal with problems. Her husband Roy always went with her and he was equally very helpful. We send sincere condolences to Edwina’s family and all those who knew her.

Until next time, have a sunny month and knit happy!

NEXT ISSUE September 2023

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June 2023 update

Dear Readers

I very much enjoy keeping up with Nic Corrigan and her Machine Knit Community (www.mkc.community). Her inclusive, supportive community inspires knitters of all levels through classes, talks and workshops with leading designers and practitioners. Whether you’re a complete beginner, someone returning to their machine or an experienced knitter looking for a challenge, the community has lots to offer. There are workshops you can take at your own pace and step-by-step videos to get you started. Enjoy free technique classes, talks, KALs, challenges and masterclasses, along with access to a global international community. You’ll recognise familiar names such as our own Alison Dupernex, Bill King and Claire Newberry. Along with them and other MKC guest presenters is Kandy Diamond. She’s a designer, artist and senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University. Kandy teaches across the knitwear and textiles BA courses and she’s also one of MKC’s guest presenters.

Crowood Press has just published her book Discovering Machine Knitting, to help demystify our craft. For years, newbies have been crying out for a book that explains how a machine works, how stitches are formed and how we shape to make garments. Each chapter focuses on different skills and there are lots of projects to put the expertise into practice and make knits for yourself. At the end of each chapter, Kandy includes designer profiles to showcase the work of professional machine knitters. She hopes to inspire newbies and celebrate the huge potential for creativity in machine knitting. From troubleshooting and looking after the machine, to using advanced techniques such as intarsia and shaping, her book will help beginners fall in love with their knitting machine. If you work through all the step-by-step instructions and projects in her book, you’ll be designing and knitting your own garments by the end of it.

Publisher Crowood Press (www.crowood.com) Edition Paperback ISBN 978-0-71984-199-6 Size 215 x 260 mm Pages 160 Price £16.99

Readers of Machine Knitting Monthly cover every age group and level of experience anyone can imagine. So if you’re one of our newbies and need a gentle, helping hand, head for Nic’s Machine Knit Community. Make sure you’ve a copy of Kandy’s book close by. They’ll light up your machine knitting journey and fill you with the joy of our craft. Until next month, knit happy!

NEXT ISSUE August 2023

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April 2023 update

Dear Readers

It’s been a busy month and we’ve some exciting new items in the magazine, so let’s look at some of them. Read all about Bill King’s new book on Page 10. It’s called Cables and if you’ve met him, you’ll sense the joy and enthusiasm he’s had writing it. Each time a lovely new book comes my way, I’m torn to decide which one to take to the desert island. I’ll have to change the rules and take eight books and one track, plus the luxury of all the machines and paraphernalia I’m allowed. I’m not sure what the music will be, but I guess I’ll have the noise of the sea lapping the shore to keep me company!

Claire Newberry’s new Blog Spot is on Page 47. One month she’ll focus on DesignaKnit and then keep us up-to-date with her blog. We don’t often hear about a designer’s life behind the scenes, so I’m looking forward to having a sneak peek! One such glimpse comes courtesy of Diane Wharton, who’s written an eBook about elongated stitches. Elaine Cater mentioned it and we both agreed that it doesn’t cut across the incredible work of Susan Guagliumi. Diane’s ideas are quite different and can be used, for example, in small projects such as edgings. Perhaps club leaders in need of something new might like to take a look and the details are on Page 48. By the way, Elaine’s club is hosting a talk and demonstration by Bill King in June and details are on Page 11.

Our final surprise is an insight into the amazing work of fashion designer Steven Jünemann, who uses domestic knitting machines for his international collections. For a month or two he’s giving us a glimpse of his current designs. With all that’s in this month’s magazine, I doubt you’ll be searching for much more inspiration!

Finally, let me mention that The Wool Cabin has had a low profile in the magazine for a while. David Hampson had a fall last November, that’s left him with health issues and a fair number of medical appointments. His son Jason is running the shop, in between keeping a close eye on his father. His regular lines and bargain buys are always popular. For opening times or any requests, call Jason on 07553-847483 or email hamps1971@hotmail.com and put The Wool Cabin in the subject box. The shop will be back in the magazine next month and, in the meantime, I send my best wishes to Dave for a speedy and lasting recovery. Until next month, happy reading!

NEXT ISSUE June 2023

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March 2023 update

Dear Readers

As we celebrate the 37th birthday issue, I’ve very much enjoyed talking to Neville Bramwell. He’s now 90 years old and a little frail, but still strong. Joan’s ‘old hands’ will certainly remember him and the heady days of our craft. Since the business closed, there’s been no substitute for Bramwell’s Fine 4-ply. Fellow pioneer Mary Weaver suggested to Neville that if he could find a way to produce three ends of 2/30s as one strand of yarn on a 500 gram cone to fit a 44-inch chest, machine knitters were ready and waiting! At that time England couldn’t produce it, so the first cones came from Italy and the statistics are impressive. At the height of demand, we had 84 colours in Fine 4-ply alone. There were 24 cones in a carton, a 40-foot container held 800 cartons and, as fast as they could be filled, containers were shipped to places such as Canada and the USA, Russia and both Perth and Sydney in Australia. That’s an impressive number of 4-ply cones! Neville’s three children Tony, Peter and Alison continue to support him and with 8 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, it’s still pretty much a ‘family affair’. In a month or two, I’ll drive North to visit Neville and also see the mega hotel complex now built on the site of Holmes Mill in Clitheroe, Bramwell’s home for ten years.

Jean Richardson runs the Bromsgrove MKC and she’s sent me the sad news that Pat Stanton has passed away. Over more years than I can remember, Pat was a great ambassador for machine knitting. Jean had known her since the early 80s, when machine knitting was at its height. Pat had a vast knowledge of all things ‘machine knitting’ and willingly shared it. I know I’m not alone in remembering Pat from her numerous visits to knitting clubs around the country. She drove to some clubs during the day and, up to a few years ago, would think nothing of loading up her car and setting off to give one of her evening talks. Pat loved to visit the shows and, in the early days, enjoyed many busy days out. Two favourites were the Thornbury Show near Bristol and Nottingham.

Pat produced a series of booklets covering many aspects of machine knitting, along with organising Bromsgrove Machine Knitters. She brought her knowledge and experience to many demonstrations then, sadly, her health began to deteriorate. However, ‘her’ club continues and they’ve welcomed some new faces recently. The members will continue to talk about Pat and remember her lasting legacy to the club and our craft. She’ll be hugely missed and many will mourn her passing, as will I. Rest in peace, Pat.

Finally, my very sincere thanks to you all, for your lasting support over 37 years. It’s made it possible for me to continue to publish my magazine, for the craft I love. Until next month, knit happy!


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