July update

Dear Readers

Here in the South East and unlike last year, our green and pleasant land was definitely fact and not fiction in June. We needed the much-wanted rain to hammer down but, in the hope that we may have something of a summer after the blazing heatwave at the end of July, I’ve included some pretty tops this time. However, if summer doesn’t materialise, remember that lacy tops look equally stunning for the party season, which will be here before we can turn around! A fine thread of Lurex or shiny metallic makes no difference to the tension and adds a lovely sparkle to many yarns. Call Uppingham Yarns on 01572-823747 or Yeoman Yarns on 0116-240 4464 to ask what they have on offer.

            This month we welcome back Heidi Cleary, who has been absent from our pages for too long. She’s still knitting for all the tiny tots in her life and this month’s striped sweater is an ideal stash buster. Heidi almost always uses acrylic double knitting for her kids’ knits. There’s a huge colour choice, it’s hard-wearing, machine-washable and dries in next-to-no-time. She simply sets the tension dial as far round as it will go on her standard gauge machine and opens up the tension on the mast. Her garter carriage loves it and I remember Hilary’s mum, the late Barbara Belton at Busy Bee, also loving Forsell Shamal DK for many of her designs. By the way, the half price offer on Forsell yarns continues at Silver Viscount and there are still stocks of lovely colours. If you’re looking for something special, visit the website at http://www.silverviscount.co.uk or give Jackie or Rosie a call on 01933-311888 and they’ll let you know what’s currently available.

            DesignaKnit enthusiasts will love Claire Newberry’s new feature on Page 52 and Part 2 follows next month. Fay Butcher shares her Passap pattern for a pretty baby cape and I’m sure you’ll want to re-discover your love of Artika Designs. Linda has been producing her booklets for more years than I care to remember and they’re absolutely packed with masses of stitch pattern diagrams, colour variations and design ideas. There’s a special offer for all our readers on Page 54 and overseas knitters are not left out. Simply email Linda at artika@compuserve.com and she’ll look after you personally.

            I’ve a great Autumn of knitting lined up for you with exclusive features and patterns from our craft leaders Susan Guagliumi and Nina Miklin together with popular favourites Helen Lewis and Karin Rogalski. Until next time, happy knitting.

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September 2019Subscription copies sent out Thursday 1st August

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June update

Dear Readers

On behalf of all the exhibitors, the first thing I’d like to do this month is thank everyone who supported the Nottingham Show this year. Our talks were popular and we’d a very enjoyable day. The staff looked after us well and, once again, The Olive Pot provided some excellent refreshments. Many visitors placed Wendy Piper in a dilemma, urging her to rethink her decision to close her business. Knits ‘n’ Bits has been well-liked by many machine knitters and it will be a blow for our craft to lose Wendy, so we sent her home with lots of thinking to do in the weeks ahead.

           Since last month, I’ve been in touch with Linda Jackson of Artika Designs. Reader Sheila Thody found a tatty chair in a local secondhand shop and, using her Brother 836 and a punchcard design from Artika Designs, she’s transformed it into a great piece of furniture. In the August issue we’ve full step-by-step instructions with photos to show you how Sheila renovated her chair. To encourage you to get going with home furnishings, Linda will offer a set of any three books chosen from Tartans Tweeds and Checks, Designs for Interiors, Fabric Weaves, Eastern Promise, Optical Illusions and Colourwash Fabrics. You can see all the designs in the collections on her website at www.Artika.co.uk so start looking now, to whet your appetite and take your machine knitting in a slightly different direction.

            Thinking about different things to do with our machines, we’ll also include an exclusive design from Tony Bennett of Dormani Yarns next month. Tony returns to the UK in September, to end the courses held at Metropolitan. This a the last opportunity to take part in a Tony Bennett course in the UK, so call 01270-628414 now or email metromachineknit@btconnect.com to ask if any places are still available. Sadly Carol and Mark have both suffered from serious health problems in recent times, which prevents them continuing to run Metropolitan. Tony’s visit is to be the final event and will bring Carol and Mark’s 30 years of trading to an end, on a special high note. Turn to Page 11 for full details of where to find Metropolitan and what’s still on offer. Do please support them, before their doors finally close in September.

           With summer on its way and much to tempt you next month, it’s time to ‘keep knitting’!

August 2019

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May 2019 – Dear Readers

Dear Readers

If you live within travelling distance of Nottingham, do join us at West Park Leisure Centre in Wilsthorpe Road, Long Eaton NG10 4AA. This year our show is on Sunday 14th April and Guest Speakers are Sue Booth at 11.30 am and Erica Thomson at 2.00 pm The lectures cost an extra £1 each and I look forward to seeing all those who can join us.

As we put the finishing touches to our Nottingham Show, I need to let you know that this will be the last time we’ll see Wendy Piper with her Knits ‘n’ Bits. After enjoying just one grandchild for many years, two more popped along a short while ago. Both mums and babies are now well, but there was a huge scare for the family when one baby almost didn’t survive. We all know that Wendy has had her own health problems over the years and she’s absolutely fine, but now wants to spend as much time as possible with her family. She’s talked it over with her husband and they’ve decided to cease trading. To this end, she’s already closed down most of her business and no longer has a business card machine or bank account. I’ve asked her to come to Nottingham to say bye-bye to us and she’s agreed. She’ll bring remaining stock and if you’d like to take advantage of huge discounts and bargains one last time, you’ll have to come along to the show with cash.

I chatted to Karin Rogalski recently and we both wondered what had happened to the weather. After the unseasonal heat in February we’ve been plunged back into some pretty chilly days, so she’s designed a very quick and easy hat using oddments from her stash. It takes Karin half an hour to knit one and join the seam. Use any small border design from your pattern library and remember to adjust the number of rows you knit on the back of the hem for the correct length. The shape of the hat won’t destroy your hair style and your stash will be pleased to part company with a number of cone ends.

Talking of cone ends reminds me to mention that Nick Traylen will happily find a new home for all your empty cones. Simply pile them in a bag and hand them to him at a show, or when you visit Uppingham Yarns. It really is worth a day out, as there’s much more to see at the shop than Nick is able to bring to the shows. My treat is to go on market day, when the town centre is a hive of activity. Although it’s been a Charter Market since 1281, trading has no doubt taken place there since the Middle Ages. Over the years the products may have altered, but the market’s popularity remains as strong today as it was centuries ago. It’s in a lovely part of the country with lots of places for lunch and a great day out. So, if you’ve not yet been, do call Nick on 01572-823747 for more details or visit www.wools.co.uk

If you’re a Passap knitter, look out for our next issue when we welcome the highly respected Fay Butcher as a regular contributor. She’s been running a Duo 80 knitting club each month since 1984 and she started the first E6000 club in Australia in December 1988. Fay did a Technical And Further Education (TAFE) course in Australia many years ago and you’ll perhaps recognise the initials. Over the years, Tony Bennett has introduced some of his exceptional TAFE students to us in his Down Under articles. Fay’s course included pattern writing and she also gives out notes on the topic of the month at each club meeting, so we’re sure to glean a great deal from her articles and patterns.

Finally, my sincere thanks to Karin Rogalski and to Helen Lewis for their excellent articles this month, as well as to all our regular contributors for helping me to keep the magazine going into its 34th year. The clocks have gone forward and it’s officially Spring, so let’s all knit happy!

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June 2019

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April 2019 – Dear Readers

Dear Readers

If you live within travelling distance of Nottingham, do join us at West Park Leisure Centre in Wilsthorpe Road, Long Eaton NG10 4AA. This year our show is on Sunday 14th April and Guest Speakers are Sue Booth at 11.30 am, Erica Thomson at 2.00 pm The lectures cost an extra £1 each, numbers are limited so please book in advance and I look forward to seeing all those who can join us.

As we put the finishing touches to our Nottingham Show, I need to let you know that this will be the last time we’ll see Wendy Piper with her Knits ‘n’ Bits. After enjoying just one grandchild for many years, two more popped along a short while ago. Both mums and babies are now well, but there was a huge scare for the family when one baby almost didn’t survive. We all know that Wendy has had her own health problems over the years and she’s absolutely fine, but now wants to spend as much time as possible with her family. She’s talked it over with her husband and they’ve decided to cease trading. To this end, she’s already closed down most of her business and no longer has a business card machine or bank account. I’ve asked her to come to Nottingham to say bye-bye to us and she’s agreed. She’ll bring remaining stock and if you’d like to take advantage of huge discounts and bargains one last time, you’ll have to come along to the show with cash.

I’ve had news from the Scottish Machine Knitters that their Spring Workshop takes place at the Parklands Centre, Alva FK12 5BG on 13th April 2019 from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. Demonstrations run throughout the day and they’ll have a special area set aside for beginners. Tea and coffee will be available, but please bring your own packed lunch. Tickets on the door cost £5 for members, £8 for non-members and you can find out more if you visit www.scottishmachineknitters.org.uk

Life has taken one or two surprising turns recently, as I quietly celebrate publishing the magazine for 33 years. As you read this, you must share the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve played your own individual part in keeping the magazine and our craft alive. At times it’s not been an easy journey for me, but between us we’ve held together the craft we love. My very sincere thanks to you all, for your enduring help and support over the years.

 

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May 2019

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March 2019 – Dear Readers

Dear Readers

It’s been a sad month, as I’ve had to say goodbye to two very close friends. The first is Sue Pritchard, who has been one of our Knitting Buddies and an MKM contributor for more years than I can remember. Sue has battled for such a long time with cancer and it’s brought huge sadness to those who knew her to learn that her long-lasting fight has finally come to an end. My second loss may well come as a shock to those who are current or past members of the Guild of Machine Knitters and it’s the sad passing of Diane Leverton. We were fellow Directors of the Guild and many saw her as recently as the AGM last year, after which she retired as Secretary and Clubs Co-ordinator. Diane hadn’t been in the best of health for a number of years but, like Sue, she fought serious health difficulties with a huge amount of determination and courage. Both Sue and Diane had much to fill their lives and willingly passed on their knowledge and skills for the benefit of us all. I’m sure you’ll join me in sending our heartfelt condolences to all their surviving family members and many close friends.

Last month I promised you an update on a small light which Brenda and Doug Bristow found on their travels. It’s a drum around four inches tall, about an inch across and the 15 tiny LED lights are in a block on a flexible four-inch long stem, which twists and turns in any direction. It stands on any magnetic base, including a knitting machine needlebed, to give masses of illumination. I haven’t used it continuously, but it’s still running on the three triple A batteries supplied. If your sight isn’t as good as it used to be and for super-clear illumination in any dark spots, give Brenda a call now at Heatherwood on 01293-851339.

Finally, it’s time to invite you to take part in our annual lucky dip for a free ticket for the Nottingham Show. It’s at West Park Leisure Centre in Wilsthorpe Road, Long Eaton NG10 4AA on Sunday 14th April and details are on Page 41. Send an sae about 12 x 17 cm (5 x 7 in) marked Nottingham in the top left hand corner to Machine Knitting Monthly, PO Box 1479, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 8YX. For this show to survive we need the footfall through the doors, so it’s even more important to make the extra effort to join us this year.

Do please join me next month, as every one of us can take personal pride in celebrating the 33rd birthday of MKM. It’s a huge achievement, for which we should all be immensely proud.

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April 2019 – our 33rd birthday issue

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Get into gear!

Dear Readers

It’s incredible to think that we’re at the start of another new year and it’s time to get into gear again for our two shows. This year they swap places so first we return to West Park Leisure Centre in Wilsthorpe Road, Long Eaton NG10 4AA for the Nottingham Machine Knitting Show on Sunday 14th April. Following your overwhelming endorsement, our Bournemouth Show will return to last year’s popular autumn slot and take place on Saturday 5th October at Bournemouth School for Girls in Castle Gate Close, Castle Lane West, Bournemouth BH8 9UJ. Please make diary dates to join us and help me to keep the flag flying for machine knitting.

I now have an apology to make to all our readers patiently waiting for the next part of Rachel Mayer’s DesignaKnit series. She previously showed us how to make some changes to the shape and size of a garment, such as shortening sleeves and adding a bit of ease, but she also explained that there are limits. Next month she’ll show us how to make fundamental changes in Original Pattern Drafting, such as knitting a waterfall front. As before we’ll split it over two months, so the pictures are large and clear for you to follow.

Do turn to Newsline this month to read about some small lights that Brenda and Doug Bristow found on their recent travels. I reckon they’ll make a huge difference to life in general for many of us. Brenda still teaches at Heathercraft and recently was giving a lesson when, to put it politely, she ‘made a bit of a mess’ trying to pick up some stitches. Like many of us, her eyesight isn’t as sharp as it used to be, so she was amazed to find this small light with potentially hundreds of uses. It’s around five inches tall and about an inch across and it stands on any magnetic base, including a knitting machine needlebed. The bulb has 15 tiny LED lights to give masses of illumination where we need it most. Doug has one in his workroom when he’s repairing machines and another in the garage when he’s messing about with the car. One has found its way into Brenda’s kitchen and there’s another by the side of the bed for reading at night. As the base is quite small Brenda stands it on something such as a larger metal jam jar lid, to give a bit more support when used on a table or anywhere without a magnetic surface. To test it, Brenda said they’d had about seven or eight hours continuous use from one set of three decent-quality triple A batteries. However, they switched to rechargeable batteries a long time ago and they’re ideal. I’m intrigued and one is already on its way to me, so I’ll let you know how I get on with it next month. Until then, let’s look forward to a happy, healthy and prosperous year ahead for us all.

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March 2019

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Ring in the new

Dear Readers

Many of you will know that I’ve been friends with Hilary at Busy Bee for most of the time she ran the business with her mum, Barbara. Life has dealt Hilary and her family more than its fair share of knocks and we’ve seen our children grow up together. You can imagine, therefore, Hilary sharing her joy with me that Laura is now married to Liam. Laura looked amazing, the sun shone and everyone shared their joy. The last dance was The Proclaimers ‘500 miles’, by which time Laura was in flip flops and they danced their hearts out. All through the day guests turned up, everyone got on and the happiness was just infectious. They had two wedding cakes – a stack of pork pies and a mountain of cheese, to get the party going! I’ve included some photos in Dear Anne this month and it’s so good to share this special time in their lives. As Hilary said: “We’re the proudest parents ever”. The photos were taken by ER Photography and you’ll find them at www.erphotography.co.uk

I’m now going to pass on the sad news, for anyone interested, that we may lose the Guild of Machine Knitters in the very near future. To give you the facts, I’ll reproduce here part of the letter from Chairman Liz Holness which was published in the November 2018 issue of the Guild Newsletter and she writes:

“I was reading a magazine recently (Third Age Matters) and a headline jumped out at me. It said: “Our capital is our volunteers” and that equally applies to the Guild. It doesn’t matter how much money we have in the bank, if there are no volunteers we are nothing. So, here we are again, one year on and probably in a worse position than this time last year. The lack of volunteers to help us by doing anything at all is still causing problems and in six short months we’ll not have a Chairman, Vice Chairman or Treasurer. The Secretary and Membership Secretary simply can’t manage on their own. Through lack of volunteers we’ve already withdrawn from all exhibitions with effect from the end of October and we haven’t been able to implement many of the changes we’d planned. It’s so sad and disappointing that all the efforts of members over the last 20 years are being allowed to fall by the wayside and the Guild to just fade away. We always assumed that there would be others following in our footsteps and taking up the mantle, but it’s just not happening.

“When I took over as Chairman in 2010, I never dreamt that we would be in this position and I never thought I would have to write such a negative and gloomy message to you all. Please think seriously about the future of the Guild and let us know what you think we should do, because one thing is certain… we can’t go on as we are! One thing is fairly obvious. If we don’t hear from any of you, we’ll sadly need to turn our attention to what needs to be done to close down the Guild”.

If you can help in any way, do please call me and between us, we may be able to offer the Guild a lifeline. So, with much ahead of us, all that remains is to wish you a very happy New Year, which is filled with good health and contentment throughout 2019. Until next time, my compliments of the season to you all.

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February 2019

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Winter wonderland

Dear Readers

Those of you who know me well (and there are a lot of you!) will chuckle when this magazine arrives. I find it so hard to work on the Christmas issue. We started the patterns way back in the heatwave and the January issue is well on the way. February has to be printed before Christmas to go out on time in the New Year and I’m heading towards our 33rd birthday issue before a mince pie has been made. You’d think I’d had sufficient practice by now!

Thinking about the seasons coming and going brought up a very interesting observation, both during and after our Bournemouth show at the beginning of October. Many visitors came with quite different needs and expectations. In March, everyone has finished packing away the evidence of festivities and machines are reinstated in their familiar places. A lot of clubs don’t meet in December and only just get going in January, so Bournemouth can be the first outing of the year. Having had quite a long break since making last-minute knits, visitors have often ‘lost touch’ with their knitting. They come in March to be inspired and look for ideas to help them start knitting again. Following the long and hot summer break, our Bournemouth visitors in October knew exactly what they wanted to knit and came to buy yarn, patterns and accessories. Anne Croucher spent a while in her Knitting Clinic showing one knitter how to make Christmas Stockings and there was lots of yarn for sale to get her going. When visitors leave, they often thank me for the show and hope I’ll do another the following year. This time, though, they added: “Any chance we can have it in October again?”. Machine Knitting LIVE! has always been organised by machine knitters for machine knitters, so if you’ve a strong opinion about having the Bournemouth Show in March or October, please get in touch as soon as you can.

You’ll see there’s a good selection of patterns this month for mid-gauge and chunky machines. Please don’t throw your hands up in despair if you only use a standard gauge model and like the style, but wish it had been in four ply. For anyone who doesn’t use a charting device, there’s a conversion factor given with each pattern, for both stitches and rows. Multiply the stitches and rows given for your size in the pattern by these numbers and, with a few minor adjustments, you’ll replicate the blocking diagram shapes. Have a trial run and do it just once, perhaps with a baby cardigan or something small. The garment can go in a charity box and you’ll then have the confidence to discover how easy it is to do. With six weeks to go before the ‘big day’, all that remains is for us to fit in a bit of festive knitting before we’re needed in the kitchen!

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January 2019

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The Silver Standard

Dear Readers

I had the most heart-warming conversation recently with Norman Whitfield. Many of you will remember his beautiful Passap knitting in MKM, including his ever-popular polo insert and necklines. He called to tell me that his grand-daughter, Nicole, has started a small craft business. It’s based online, with a presence on Facebook and Etsy. With help from grandpa and mum, Norman’s daughter Susan, Nicole has designed some dummy clips, knitted on his Passap E6000. She’s called her business Bairn Designs and you can read more on Page 9.

The family collaboration started some months ago, after Nicole had a dream. Norman has machine knitted for as long as Nicole can remember and, as a youngster, she sat on his knee helping to push and pull the locks. Over the years, they’ve worked on a number of small projects together, so Nicole spent a while wondering if her dream might come true. She always loved learning from her grandpa so, after months of them trying different stitch sizes and yarn weights, they’ve come up with the product in Newsline and there are lots of lovely colours. Most of all, Nicole has enjoyed spending time with her grandparents, popping over for lunch and to develop the product. I’m also sure Norman and his wife loved seeing their grand-daughter and great grandchildren, too! It’s a lovely family story and shows how our craft is truly being passed down through the generations.

Since my last letter, I’ve visited Silver Viscount in their new premises and, my goodness, the company has grown beyond all my expectations. Anyone thinking machine knitting has died should take a look at their stocks of knitting machines and accessories. There’s rack after rack piled top to bottom from floor to a very high ceiling. The pristine new boxes of sewing and knitting machines and every spare part imaginable are waiting to be dispatched. Long may they continue to distribute genuine and original Silver Reed knitting machines, accessories and parts. We all need to support Silver, to make sure our beloved craft remains sustainable for generations to come. One final thing to remind you is that whilst stocks last, Forsell Pure Wool is on sale with a staggering reduction of 50% on all cones, plus shipping at cost, of course. There’s 4-ply hand-wash at £5.31 for 500g and Slalom Aran at £8.43 for 1000g. Superwash 2-ply is £3.17 for 250g, 3-ply is £4.34 for 350g, 4-ply is £6.28 for 500g and DK is £7.66 for 500g. Call Jackie or Rosie now on 01933-311888 for full details and, most definitely, knit happy!

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November 2018

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Essential autumn knitting

Dear Readers

I’ve lots of news to pass on, so I’ll start with a request for you to knit for charity. You’ll read in Clubline that the Scottish Machine Knitters have linked up with a charity which needs some trauma teddies, so let’s do what we can to help. When you’re making them, do remember that the teddies don’t have to be perfect specimens. A few years ago, we sent out a batch to help war stricken children and when the shipment arrived, one small girl pounced on a teddy. She knew it had been made especially for her, as one leg was shorter than the other and she’d lost part of one of her legs treading on a land mine. These teddies can do so much to help and full details are on Page 10.

I’ve been in touch with David Hampson at The Wool Cabin and his doctors have told him it’s vital that he takes a compulsory break from work. David has asked me to thank all the customers who travelled for miles to see him at Glossop Market and at Chorley Market. Trading at both outlets will be suspended from the end of November until sometime in February 2019. David would like me to thank you for your support and he looks forward to seeing you all again next year. We wish David a full and lasting recovery. In the meantime, you can continue to visit his son Jason at The Wool Cabin in Chesterfield and mail order will still be available.

I spoke recently to my long-standing friend, Yvonne Knapman, who tells me that Heather’s Hair is to close. We wrote about this thoroughly worthwhile charity back in 2015. It helps people with hair loss due to chemotherapy treatment or illness. The driving force behind it is Mrs Iva-Mary Cripps and she now has to retire and move North to be closer to her family. It means the end of the little local team in Devon, who have been making the individual hairpieces. There are still some stocks and a hope that someone may take on the commitment so, before it’s too late, do visit www.heathershair.co.uk

Finally, our thoughts must now turn to another of my long-standing friends, Sue Castro. I have to pass on the very sad news that her husband, Ion, died peacefully at St Michael’s Hospice on 30th August 2018, aged 69 years, after a short but devastating illness. After the huge burden Sue has had to bear for so many years, she now needs time and space to try to get her life back on track. Please cancel any of her club visits you may have in your diary and I know you’ll all join me in sending our sincere condolences to Sue and their children. Come back to us when you can Sue and you’re in all our thoughts and prayers.

 

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December 2018

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