February 2023 update

Dear Readers

It’s been under wraps for a while, but the covers are off and Nic Corrigan’s new book has been published. She set out to guide beginners and intermediate machine knitters through all the stages of Fair Isle. From personal contact, Nic and I know that everyone loves Fair Isle, but knitters of all abilities often struggle. How do we get a punchcard to the right place for the second side of neck shaping? How do we restart when we’ve made a mistake? How do we match the side seams and shape shoulders? Nic set out to give readers the confidence to work out their own Fair Isle patterns and incorporate them into any machine knit. Without a doubt she’s done it. If you’ve a punchcard machine, my best advice is to replace the Fair Isle section in your instruction manual with her book. Nic’s Machine Knit Community is packed with monthly challenges, live events and classes with guests such as Alison Dupernex and Bill King. Do join, to meet and be inspired by other machine knitters from all over the world.

Do you plan to go to The Stitch Festival this year? It takes place at the Business Design Centre in Upper Street, Islington, London N1 0QH from Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th March. Tickets are on sale and MKM readers can claim a discount of £2 off standard adult and concession tickets, if booked before 11.59 pm on Wednesday 22nd March 2023. Advance adult tickets are £16.50, concessions are £15 and the discount code is MKM23. For full terms, conditions and details, visit www.thestitchfestival.co.uk

            Finally, I’ve received news from Leicestershire Machine Knitters, formerly Manor House Knitting Club. It’s with much sadness they’ve learned that Jean Brotherhood, a founding member of the club, has passed away. Amongst other roles over many years, Jean was treasurer of the club and a very talented knitter, who willingly passed on her expertise to lots of new members. In the months before the pandemic hit, Jean’s health began to fail and sometimes it was difficult for her to get to meetings. Then, during lockdown, she went to live with her son Simon in Kent and sadly wasn’t able to return to her home in Leicestershire. Simon logged her into some of the club’s Zoom meetings and it was lovely for the current members to see her face-to-face again. I’ve known Jean for as long as I can remember and she was such a lovely lady. We’d often chat and put the world to rights, so I’ll miss her hugely and I know all the club members and old hands from Manor House times will, too. I send my sincere condolences to everyone who knew Jean, especially to Simon and all the family.

NEXT ISSUE April 2023

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January 2023 update

Dear Readers

This issue always arrives when mounds of Easter eggs replace piles of sprouts in the supermarket. We always have to go to press very early, so let me remind you of one or two things which may slip through the net.

Pat Banyard Smith is Chairman of Long Buckby Machine Knitters and the club is preparing to welcome Bill King in April. If you’ve not visited the club before, you can look forward to a lovely afternoon in the company of fellow knitters. It’s a very friendly group, with the kettle on for free tea and coffee when you arrive. Bill is an absolute genius on a knitting machine and everyone can look forward to an afternoon of magic. Take your own lunch and spend time browsing around the tables, before Bill’s demonstration and talk. They welcome other clubs, so if you fancy a day out, you’ll receive a very warm welcome. There’s no need to pre-book tickets, but do let Pat know you’re coming so she can make you especially welcome. All the details are in Clubline on Page 11.

We’ve some splendid plans for next month’s magazine, including a fabulous feature from Ruth Horrocks. She’ll show us how to move a 24-stitch punchcard design or electronic pattern diagonally across a garment. If you can’t wait, she published her book last month, so it’s now available. You’ll find details on Page 45, or visit www.chartingheaven.co.uk

Are you a member of the Machine Knit Community? It’s a fabulous online space for machine knitters of all abilities. Nic Corrigan and her team will help you to become the machine knitter you want to be. Members have access to a treasure house of all previous live events, with guest speakers and classes from Bill King, Ria Burns, Marie Bruhat, Alison Dupernex, Kandy Diamond and many more. Nic offers modern designer-level knitting patterns, step-by-step classes and a superb online support network. You’ll find her at www.machineknit.community and it’s a place to meet and be inspired by other machine knitters from all over the world. If you’re a current member, you’ll have heard Nic’s splendid news… but, I’m not going to spill the beans just yet. Hopefully you’ll read all about it in next month’s magazine, so don’t miss our March issue.

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March 2023

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December 2022 update

Dear Readers

Last time I promised you confessions of an Editor and Joan Lafferty’s words are ringing in my ears. In her article this month she can ‘guarantee that more haste means less speed’ and, of course, she’s absolutely right. Our grand-daughter needed a new hat and scarf, similar to the set we’d previously knitted on my LK-150. She looked through my stash and fell in love with the Raspberry shade in King Cole Bramble DK. She was raring to go, so who needs a tension swatch? I cast on and she merrily knitted. It all seemed a bit big, but foolishly we kept going. She went off, leaving me to gather in the stitches at the top and join the seam. I can’t believe I actually sat and made it all up, because it was far too big. I’d no option than to unpick the lot and start again. The scarf was to be as long as the remaining yarn would allow so I’d none to spare, as she now wanted a ‘really big’ bobble on her hat.

I searched every nook and cranny for my pompon set but it was no-where to be found. Back to the machine I went, to push a couple of needles forward and wind the yarn round and round them. With the needles pulled together to capacity, I tied yarn round the centre then slid the yarn off gingerly and cut round the edges. Making a bobble this way and mindful of my machine’s needles, I didn’t pull the central yarn as tightly as needed and the whole lot fell apart. I’d to line up ‘hundreds’ of cut strands of yarn of different lengths to turn into a pompon.

Eventually, with her hat pulled on and the scarf tied under her chin, she was warm and cosy. However, a job that would normally take me an hour at the most turned into a two-day marathon. So, how did I get it so wrong? The tension dial, of course! I’d been in too much of a hurry to check and we’d knitted everything far looser than we should. It was no wonder her hat was so big and it’s taught me the salutary lesson that the tortoise took his time, but he got there!

This year seems to have flown by and as it draws to a close, let’s hope the coming year will bring each of us the best of health and good fortune. Until next month, my compliments of the season to you all.

NEXT ISSUE February 2023

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November update

Dear Readers

Last month I promised you some new and exclusive designs for Christmas from Alison Dupernex, so I hope you’ll fall in love with our centre seven pages. Only Alison could give us such a gorgeous array of colours and she doesn’t disappoint. If you don’t have sufficient time to make them this year, her baubles could be an on-going project, so let me pass on something personal. My mother died almost twenty years ago, having spent sixteen years as a widow. In those lonely years and in due course, she joined some groups and also went to craft classes. One year she made us nine Christmas baubles by carefully folding different colours of ribbon, in a specific pattern, around polystyrene balls. It can’t have been easy with painful fingers and limited sight, but each one is perfect and they’re still absolutely beautiful. Every year I carefully take them out of storage and hang them on our Christmas trees. They remind us of her and all the family Christmases we shared when she was alive. Think of the joy you’d give to young relatives or friends, if they received such a handmade gift from you. They really would become treasured heirloom knitting and perhaps could be your 2023 stash-busting project.

One of the designs I like especially this month is Snow Orchid, on Page 28. It’s not so much the shape or stitch pattern, but more the understated way the colours of the self-striping yarn merge. We can’t deny that we love the instant pattern these new yarns give us. However, let’s not necessarily dismiss the delicate changes produced by some colourways. The shade used for this sweater would look equally nice knitted in plain stocking stitch. Made up with the wrong side facing, it would become a timeless classic.

Last Minute Gifts – for you and for giving! There’s just time to tell you that if you’ve still got some last-minute gifts to make, check out the free patterns for mittens and Loopity Loo hats (and loads of other items!) at Guagliumi.com. You can access all the free downloads by clicking here. The Pedicure Socks (not a freebie) are a downloadable pattern on the web site. All purchased patterns are for download only so watch for instructions when you place your order. Until next time, knit happy.

NEXT ISSUE January 2023

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October update

Dear Readers

It’s been a long time coming, but Alison Dupernex’s new book has at last been published. As you’ll read on Page 10, it’s the most comprehensive book to date for machine knitters. Whatever your age or ability, you’ll learn so much about our craft. I know of no other book, written by a professional machine knitwear designer, that generously shares so many original design ideas, tips and advice. When have we ever had over 100 designs in a book? Alison has included sweaters and cardigans, jackets and coats, waistcoats and sleeveless pullovers for all shapes and sizes. There’s also a lovely section of children’s knitwear designs. To dress us from head to toe, she includes lots of scarves and hats, gloves and wrist warmers, socks and slippers. Our homes are not forgotten, with patterns for new cushions and throws. It really is an amazing collection, not to mention 100 Fairisle colourways and stitches. There’s also a pattern directory of 70 inspiring examples, as well as 50 machine-knitted cable stitches.

The content Alison has given us is truly mind-blowing. I remember saying that her book Machine Knitting: Designing With Colour was nothing short of amazing. Having seen Creative Machine Knitting, I now need to adjust that comment, because I didn’t think it was possible to give machine knitters any more. If you have neither book, please add one or both to your Christmas wish list. If you’re a very new knitter and just starting out, Creative Machine Knitting will fill you to the brim with the joy, excitement and possibilities machine knitting has to offer. It’s impossible to recommend it too highly and I send my personal congratulations Alison. It’s a phenomenal amount of work, a splendid new book and you should be immensely proud of your achievement and major contribution to our craft.

The next thing I must do is thank our many overseas readers who sent me their condolences at the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II. I’ve included a very small selection in Dear Anne this month, but a huge number poured in. I know our UK readers will join me in asking all those who wrote to accept our personal thanks, at our time of national sorrow.

Finally, when you turn to Page 37 you’ll see that next month we’ve a selection of new and exclusive designs for Christmas from Alison Dupernex. They’re gorgeous knitted baubles in two shapes and sizes, some beautiful lavender bags for handmade gifts at any time of the year and pin cushions as another lovely gift for sewing enthusiasts. You’ll need just ten grams of many assorted colours so it’s time to sort out your stash, ready to make a start when your December magazine arrives. Until next month, knit happy!

NEXT ISSUE December 2022

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September update

Dear Readers

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.

NEXT ISSUE November 2022

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Frank Dineen 1932 – 2022

Anne writes:-

Having spoken with his widow Janet, I’m letting you all know that Frank Dineen has passed away peacefully at the age of 90 years. Frank had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, so Jan has asked me to help her spread the news of his passing to as many of you as possible.

Frank was especially known to us for launching the Guild of Machine Knitters in March 1998. By doing so, he hoped to ensure the preservation and growth of our craft and his initial aims were to:-

1. Increase the awareness of machine knitting as a craft.

2. Provide help and encouragement to all knitters, whatever their level of ability.

3. Encourage and maintain a high standard of craftsmanship.

4. Encourage young people to take up our craft.

5. Foster these aims for individual knitters by awarding certificates of quality.

6. Organise the Guild’s own shows and exhibitions.

7. Liaise with manufacturers and suppliers, to ensure that we all worked together for the greater good of our craft.

8. Foster links between UK knitters and those overseas.

9. Promote greater media awareness.

By doing all these things and more, it was Frank’s hope that we’d strengthen the bonds between clubs, individual knitters, manufacturers and suppliers to the overall benefit of machine knitting. Membership was open to all with an interest in our craft including knitters, designers, suppliers, manufacturers and journalists – all working together for the future of our craft.

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS

For those who would wish to know and attend, here are the details for his funeral.

His service will be held in the afternoon of Friday 2nd September at 1.00 pm at The Oaks Havant Crematorium. It’s on the outskirts of Havant in Bartons Road, just past the entrance to the Spire Portsmouth Hospital. For full details and directions by road, visit www.havantcrematorium.co.uk

For those using public transport, Havant train station is 1.7 miles away.

The funeral directors are The Co-operative Funeralcare at 96 Bedhampton Road, Bedhampton, Havant, Hampshire PO9 3EZ. Their telephone number is 02392-453549.

Jan has requested no flowers please. However, Frank had a lifelong love of birds and animals and an enduring love for greyhounds. Jan has asked that any donations in his memory should please be made to Greyhound Lifeline. For more details, please call The Co-operative Funeralcare on 02392-453549.

Frank’s funeral will mark his passing and if you’d like to attend his service, please join Jan in wearing bright colours as a celebration of his life.

August update

Dear Readers

Last month’s heatwave in the south increased to a ‘fry-up’ this month, as our local temperatures hit 40C degrees. It’s been too hot to even potter in the garden, so spare a thought for me juggling press invitations to view Christmas goodies! It’s part of the joy of having to work so far ahead, but made me bring thoughts of autumn into the magazine.

I love the colours of our cover design and I’m blown away by Alison Dupernex’s Fair Isle cardigan on Page 32. One thing Alison chooses to do for us is cut down, from her original pattern, the amount of colours she uses. You’ll see this clearly comparing the photo of her cardigan on Page 32, then the modification on Page 35. Do head for your stash, pull out any suitable shades and enjoy making your own modifications to the colourway. You’ll have a huge amount of fun and create your own unique garment. When it’s finished, please take a photo to share with us all and that’s what reader Alex Raw has done. He started with a design from September 2009 and made it his own. He’ll be sharing it with us in the magazine soon and I hope it encourages more of you to ‘do your own thing’.

There are many lovely yarns around now and the new cake yarns are our best friend. The shape looks just as if we’ve pulled it from a wool winder. The cake sits behind the machine and the yarn pulls from the centre to thread straight through the tension mast. We also don’t need a pattern! Something plain will do, then add loads of colour and interest to stocking stitch. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I also hope you’ll enjoy this month’s Techniques feature on Page 52. Yes, we can all read a manual but how many of us gallop off at top speed, before falling flat on our faces. Of all the problems machine knitters face, using a cast-off linker comes top of the list, so I hope you’ll be persuaded to have another go.

Finally, I’ve a new book to mention from Crowood Press in their Knitting Techniques series. It’s again for hand knitters, this time breaking down the construction and process of knitting socks. I know many machine knitters want to knit them, but struggle to fully understand what to do. Socks by Rita Taylor (ISBN 978-0-71984-062-3) costs £9.99 and shows us how to knit comfortable, neat and perfectly fitting socks. If, on the other hand, you’d love someone to work it all out for you, head for Beverley Ward’s Etsy shop. Her sock pattern costs £4.80 and the instructions are suitable for all standard gauge knitting machines with a ribber including Silver Reed and Knitmaster, Brother and Toyota. It’s available as an instant download at www.etsy.com/uk/listing/852358165/machine-knitting-sock-pattern

Until next month, knit happy!

NEXT ISSUE October 2022

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July update

Dear Readers

It’s been another busy month, as you’ll know if you tried to call me when we’d to make a quick trip to Scotland. (Is a round trip of over 1000 miles by car ever quick these days?) There wasn’t too much of a problem, just the family support we’re all pleased to have as we get older. Our garden fried in temperatures of 37C, whilst I shivered in 14C degrees with rain pounding down. I was glad of the extra layers I’d taken, along with a cardi or two and it brought back memories (with a wry smile!) of how we change over the years. The evening before we left there was a ‘prom bash’ at the hotel and fortunately the rain held off until all the selfies had been taken. Big party, huge dresses and stretched cars spilling out their squealing passengers. Hours had been spent perfecting hair, make-up, eyelashes and nails. Glasses were overflowing and they were (of course!) the first generation to strut their stuff as teenagers. I giggled, Lafferty fashion, as I watched them. Back then, I’m sure we could all hobble a bit better in our three inch stilettos, but perhaps not?! The next morning all traces of the party were whisked away, as the room was transformed for a wedding. With everyone frantically searching their phone for a positive weather app, we started our trek south.

Back safely at home, I’d two lovely books to read and both have been published by Crowood Press in their Knitting Techniques series. The first is Patchwork Knitting by Fiona Morris (ISBN 978-1-78500-979-2). Fiona guides us through the essential techniques of creating individual units of knitting and joining as you go. The second is Entrelac by Molly Brown (ISBN 978-1-78500-983-9). Molly explains how to produce intriguing knitted pieces with a woven look. Both books are for hand knitters, a handy size (172 x 242 mm) and affordable paperbacks at £9.99.

You might wonder why I’ve mentioned this and the reason is that it’s brought back memories of Beryl Jarvis, who died in August 2016. She wrote about knitting entrelac on a machine and set out to make her Info Sheets affordable information on lots of machine-knitting subjects. It seems the right time to make them available to you all. It was a quite different approach to her teaching series, so I’ll start working on them now. As Anne Croucher says in Dear Anne: “There are so many things we used to do ‘in the old days’ which seem to have been forgotten about, with some more complicated technique now used”. If there’s any topic you’d like explained in simple terms, do please ask and look out for this new series in the not-too-distant future. Until next month, knit happy!

NEXT ISSUE September 2022

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June update

Dear Readers

One way or another there’s been lots going on this month and my first mention has to be the time, effort and energy my friend Irene Krieger is devoting to raising funds to fight a special type of cancer. Each week I speak to many of you, either having to overcome problems of one sort or another or losing your nearest and dearest. As you’ll read on Page 10, Irene’s story is remarkable and if you’ve access to a computer, please visit her website at https://beads4research.com/. I so wish I still had her as a Passap designer, but hugely admire the wonderful work she’s doing for such a worthy cause. To put life and its troubles in perspective, I’ve never forgotten something Irene said years ago: “A brain surgeon looks the same as a labourer when they’re in T-shirt and shorts, lining up for the toilet”. It may make you smile, too, when you’re struggling to get by.

Bill King isn’t a brain surgeon, but he has to be our ‘boy wonder’ this month. No electronics, no patterning devices, just a couple of basic tools… and a steady hand, of course! We’ve included his photos and it somehow brings the knitting to life, in much the same way that Susan Guagliumi shows us how to manipulate stitches. This month Alison Dupernex shares the second of her trio of designs using slip stitch. It’s a much neglected technique but if you’d like to learn and use it more, there’s a substantial section devoted to it in her book Machine Knitting: Designing With Colour. Machine knitting has some real stars and it’s such a joy to share their incredible knowledge in the magazine.

One thing that’s surprised me a little is the struggle many of you have had to understand the diagrams in last month’s Show & Tell. We routinely insert a card in the machine, lock it on Row 1 and release it when we’re ready to knit the pattern. It often doesn’t matter if our knitting isn’t quite in the centre of the machine, but once in a while it’s vital and this is one such time. To help many readers, I’ve written out in words what you have to do to knit last month’s tuck stitch edgings and it’s on Page 13.

Finally, with no fuss and few words, I’m letting you know that a very dear friend, for more years than I can remember, has died. His wife Freda called to tell me that Dennis Wright, champion of circular sock machines, has passed away. He asked me for no fuss in the magazine so, to respect his wishes, I’ll quietly say: “Rest in peace, Dennis, I’ll miss you”. Until next month, let’s hope the sun will have his hat on!

NEXT ISSUE August 2022

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