It’s been another sad month for me, as you’ll read on Page 10. Frank Dineen, who brought about the foundation of the Guild of Machine Knitters, has died peacefully at the grand age of 90 years. I’ve spoken at length with his wife Jan and we found ourselves sharing many happy memories of a life well lived, rather than tears.
As you’ll read, Frank and I go back as far as 1994, when he sent a letter to To & Fro. Hazel Ratcliffe was working with me at the time and she felt very strongly that old machines should be thrown away, not preserved. I’m still of the opinion that if someone hasn’t used a knitting machine before and they buy what Hazel called an ‘old rogue’, it could be enough to put them off machine knitting for life, especially if the machine was in poor condition with bits and pieces missing. To be honest, they may not be old Record, Girotex or Turmix machines but folk are still being caught out today with rusted relics sold on eBay with missing parts and essential accessories.
I think it’s fair to say that Hazel and I ‘humoured’ Frank at the time and, besides, Rosemary Sheath at Knitcraft had masses of spares and instruction manuals for old Knitmaster machines. One letter led to another and before long Frank and Jan were frequent visitors in my office, with their parrot and dog safely tucked in as well. Yes, I wasn’t alone in having more than one ‘run-in’ with him, but no-one could ever doubt his dogged determination in those early days.
Frank was never bashful about handing out advice and he’d often try to persuade me to delve into the highways and byways of the tools of my trade. I’d like to think I kept my feet firmly on the ground and was far happier knitting on my new punchcard machine than wondering how best to clean decades of oil and rust from something ‘vintage’. We laughed a lot as, back then, Frank had a wicked sense of humour. In one of his To & Fro articles he offered lots of advice about selling things and wrote: “Having successfully sold your machine, you will experience a great rush of adrenalin. You will run around the house dreaming up the wildest selling description for all the old and useless paraphernalia that one acquires over the years. I can just see it now. ‘New home required for husband. Recently retired. Reason for disposal, lack of space. Needs to be seen to be believed. First sensible offer secures.’ Difficult to guarantee a sale though, there’s a lot of them about!” Dearest Jan, how many times must you have felt like placing a similar advert? You’ve looked after him so well and given him such devoted and steadfast support over all these years. I know that you’ll tackle whatever lies ahead day-by-day and take it in your stride, as you’ve done for so many years. We all send you our sincere condolences and hope that the future brings you a happy and well-lit path to walk along. Rest in peace, Frank; our craft will never forget you.
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