Scrap value

Scrap value

Hi Anne

I’ve just come back to machine knitting after a long break and can you help, please? Years ago a guest speaker visited our club and used cast-on rags. (I’m sure she called them ‘rags’ but I might be wrong.) The club closed down a long time ago, so there’s no-one I can ask. Do you know how they are made? They seemed to make life really easy. Thanks for your help and a great magazine. Yours sincerely, Pat

Thanks for asking Pat and these strips do away, to a great extent, with the need for waste yarn. For beginners, the easy way is to find a bit of (dare we say) ‘rubbish’ yarn in your stash. It’s best to use a smooth yarn in a neutral colour.

Step 1 Cast on about 50 stitches, using the latch tool chain stitch method for a firm cast-on edge.

Step 2 Knit 10 or 12 rows at a fairly loose tension, finishing with one row at the loosest possible tension.

Step 3 Cast off round the gate pegs to make nice little ‘blocks’ at the cast-off edge.

Step 4 If you’ve a ribber cast-on comb and with the wrong side facing, you can push the teeth of the comb through the holes of the cast-on edge then insert the wire.

Step 5 If you don’t have a ribber, keep the wrong side of the strip facing you and start with a couple of needles at each side of centre 0, the centre of the strip and the cast-off edge. Either way and using a transfer tool, pull through a needle at each end then work across, bringing all the needles through the holes.

Step 6 Make sure all needles are in holding position with the machine set to knit them back.

Step 7 Place weights in position, if required.

Step 8 It’s now vitalto knit one row with a nylon cord at a large tension, or you won’t be able to separate the strip from the knitting.

Step 9 Push needles to holding position again and cast on using an e-wrap, latch tool chain or method needed for the garment.

Step 10 Remove the nylon cord when the work is completed and the strip is intact to use over and over again.

Strips (or rags) can be made in different lengths and widths. Short strips are useful for casting on a small number of stitches, as you can hang weights directly on the strip. Some knitters make their strips garment width with a hem, then insert a old Knitmaster welt bar (see Fig. 3 and Fig. 4) into the hem. This adds a little weight plus stability and Brother owners can hook on a cast-on comb. A cast-on strip can be the most useful bit of scrap knitting you’ll ever do, especially if you have an LK-150. Don’t, though, forget the row with the nylon cord or you’ll be unable to separate the strip from the knitting.

Kalamunda Krafts

Slightly more experienced knitters (in less of a hurry!) knit a bias strip. It has its own built-in loops that spread out nicely the more it’s used. Sally Butcher has a step-by-step video demo on her Facebook page, along with videos of techniques on Silver Reed SK280, LK150 and SK155 machines. Visit She’s also transferred some of the techniques to YouTube, the link is and it’s called Sally Butcher’s Kalamunda Krafts Machine Knitting.

What fits what?

Dear Anne

I noticed in the magazine that Mini Mart has Silver Reed sponge bars and I wondered if one would fit my Brother 860? Also would the cast on comb wires be the same as those for my Brother 850 ribber? I haven’t been able to use the machine for a while, as I’ve had a replacement shoulder but now I can and, of course, the sponge bar has had it! Thanks for any help and best wishes, Barbara

PS The ballet cardigan now gets worn to football practice!

I case you missed it last year, Barbara told us about a cardigan she’d knitted for the daughter of a friend of one of her daughters. She was three years old, loved dressing up and wearing tutus. She had a pink tutu and a mauve one so Barbara made her a ‘Lafferty cardi’ to go with them, using up some cone ends in the right colours. It seems the cardi has now moved from the dressing up box to the football field! As for many replacement accessories, Nick Traylen at Uppingham Yarns keeps a list of what fits what and he’s a great source of parts to keep old machines going. Write to Uppingham Yarns, 30 North Street East, Uppingham, Rutland LE15 9QL, call 01572-823747 or visit

Kill or cure?

Kill or cure

Hello Anne

Happy New Year to you and thank you for yet another year of a great magazines. I’m in New Zealand and have been a regular purchaser of your magazine for many, many years and it never fails to surprise me with new patterns or advice. I order it through our local bookshop so it’s several months behind when I get it – and more so with the Covid freight. I’ve been looking through back issues and was interested in the Block Buster item on Page 13 of September 2022 on Ironing, Pressing and Steam Pressing. Personally, I’m still nervous with the iron on my knitting, be it wool or a man-made fibre. I felt this article spelled it out well. I’ve ‘killed’ several items over the years with too much ironing and think this would be very helpful to newer knitters. Kind regards, Lorraine

Basic skills

Hi Anne

I’m new to machine knitting and wonder if you could suggest where I could go that might give me answers to all the silly questions I sometimes need to ask. It feels as if everyone except me is an expert, so I often feel embarrassed about not knowing some of the basics. I’d be very grateful for any help and thank you in advance. Best wishes, Mary

Thanks for asking Mary and for those of you who don’t know, Jane Harrisson has a machine knitter’s treasure chest of resources. It includes masses of useful links, free patterns and stitch patterns together with punchcards and electronic diagrams. There’s a huge section on troubleshooting tips for machine knitters and Jane has also included the Punchcard sets and Mylar sheets for all the major brands, to help knitters who have unwittingly bought second-hand machines without them. Needles of Steel is also your first stop for information about Circular Sock Machines. The site is an invaluable resource for all CSM owners and offers free patterns, manuals, techniques, vendors and videos. There really is far too much to list here that’s of special interest for every machine knitter. So, make it one of your jobs to visit Jane’s site at www.needles of and we know you won’t be disappointed!

Wax works

Dear Anne

I was reading my MKM for a few minutes and as I opened it, the first page that came in view was the one with ‘always wax double knit yarn’ on it. This is something I’ve been doing ever since I started using a machine in 1969. Back then wool winders were as good as those sold today, but they did tell you to wax the yarn. Over the years it’s become a part of my practice and I often buy 3-ply and 4-ply yarns in 100 gram balls. This yarn, whether wool or acrylic, hasn’t been waxed for machine use so I automatically wax everything I buy before using, unless it’s on a cone. For knitting baby clothes and children’s outfits, I find the 100 gram balls come in plenty of lovely colours. In fact, I do have quite a few orders for children’s clothes! I’m just waiting for some building work to be finished inside the house, so I can get on with my knitting. Best wishes, June

Losing it

Hi Anne

I’m a self-taught knitter with a Brother 881 and always get in a muddle decreasing across the row. I always seem to have too many decreases left to do at one end. Is there a sure-fire way to get them even? Yours hopefully, Sheila

You’re in luck with this method, Sheila, because you’ve a lace carriage. If the instructions say ‘decreasing seven stitches evenly’, go across the row and push seven needles slightly forward but still in working position. Fiddle about a bit until you’re happy they’re evenly spaced, then push the seven needles to ‘D’ position. Now take the lace carriage across and the stitches will transfer to their adjacent needles. Push the empty needles back to ‘A’ position. You’ve now decreased your seven stitches. Knit several rows with waste yarn and release from the machine. Next push the reduced number of needles to ‘B’ position. Holding the wrong side towards you, fold the waste knitting back towards the machine. Pick up the stitches and place them in the hooks of the needles, including both loops when you reach the transferred stitches. The waste yarn is easily unravelled and your decreased stitches are evenly spaced across the work.

Float on

Dear Anne

I design a lot of my own punchcards and on my chunky machine, six-stitch floats are a bit long for a neat finish on the back of my work. Worse still are those even longer floats, which are sometimes unavoidable. There’s a limit to how many ‘odd dots’ I can put in here and there without spoiling the effect, so do you have any ideas? Many thanks and Happy New Year to one and all. Best wishes, Maggie

Thanks for asking Maggie and the usual thing we do is pick up the loops. After knitting the row that creates the long floats, use a single transfer tool to lift the middle of the float onto the needle above it. Push the appropriate needle forward, but not too far out of working position. Place the long loop in the open hook along with the newly-formed stitch, then push the needle back in line. If the float falls in a similar place on subsequent rows, don’t use the same needle each time. Move to an adjacent needle left or right so the loops are staggered and this will give a smoother result. Simply knit across the next row in the usual way. You should find that the long loops are safely caught up and their length is effectively halved. Using chunky weight yarn and a Fair Isle pattern, it’s almost undetectable from the front. As it’s done as you go along, there’s not much extra work. If there aren’t too many rows with long floats, you can always mark the punchcard so you’ll know when to stop.

April update

Dear Readers

Lots of things seem to have happened this month, so let me start by passing on a new email address for Nina Miklin. She’s had to change it very quickly to If you’ve tried to get in touch with Nina in the past month or so, please make contact with her again especially if you wanted to take up her recent yarn offer. Full details are on Page 18 of the April magazine and the offer remains open until 30th April, or while stocks last. There are savings of almost £20, but you won’t get through to her unless you use her new email address or visit

I need to let you know that almost all the Forsell yarn, on special reader offer at Silver Viscount, has now been sold. There may be an odd cone or two tucked away, so it’s worth calling Jackie on 01933-311888 just to double check. In its place, Silver Viscount will now stock three qualities of Yeoman Yarns. There are 16 shades of Sari 3-ply, 20 shades of DK Cotton and 29 shades of 4-ply Soft Cotton all on 400g cones. For more details about the yarn, call Jackie or ring Yeoman Yarns direct on 0116-240 4464. To see how to knit and use Yeoman Yarns on Silver Reed machines, @yeomanyarns is the place to go.

Do please read about the Machine Knit Community on Page 11. It’s an exceptional online space for machine knitters of all abilities, helping us to get the most from our machines. Nic Corrigan is a designer with a studio in West Yorkshire. She offers step-by-step classes, modern designer-level knitting patterns and an online support network. You’ll find her at and it’s a place to meet and be inspired by other machine knitters from all over the world. I’m sure we’ll hear more from Nic in the coming months.

I’ve had a number of calls from readers singing the praises of Tools With A Mission. TWAM is a Christian charity that collects unwanted tools and equipment including knitting machines, sewing machines, accessories and yarn. Items are refurbished and sorted into kits for Sub-Saharan Africa, where TWAM works closely with local grassroots organisations. To get someone started, a knitting machine kit includes a machine, yarn, patterns, all useful items and accessories. Similarly, sewing machine kits include a machine plus cottons, needles, zips, buttons and haberdashery. There’s a constant need for tools from gardens, garages and workshops plus computers and IT equipment. Visit the website at to see what’s needed, find a volunteer collector or refurbishment centre. The head office is at 2 Bailey Close, Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 0UD. They’re open Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 4.30 pm, but you must ring first. Their number is 01473-210220 or email Instead of a trip to the tip, make TWAM your first port of call and help others to help themselves. Until next month, knit happy!

NEXT ISSUE June 2022

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March update

Dear Readers

One thing has gladdened my heart this month, so please read Clubline on Page 10. There’s a young boy in Prestonpans, not far from Edinburgh, Leith and Musselburgh who is passionate about learning to machine knit. One slight problem is that his learning curve has started on a somewhat elderly Passap Duo 80. Do you, or does anyone you know, live in the area and knit on one of these machines? I’d love to find an experienced knitter within reasonable travelling distance to help him. I’ve spoken to his father at length and we’ve tried all the usual lines of enquiry, but drawn a blank. I’m hopeful, therefore, that my letter will reach a wider audience.

I’ve also wondered if someone in the area might have a punchcard machine that’s no longer used, to get him a bit more up-to-date? We may grind to a halt with the Duo 80, but could we help to satisfy some of his passion for our craft by donating an unwanted Brother or Knitmaster punchcard machine and showing him how to use it? Obviously a weekly commute from Land’s End to Prestonpans is out of the question, but could one of you living not too far away offer any help, please? His family has a farming background, so pure wool is his yarn of choice. Have you any cones of wool you could give him to try? It’s rare to find such enthusiasm in one so young and I’d like to do all I can to help. One day he’ll perhaps become a famous knitwear designer and we’ll all be so proud of helping him onto the first rung of the ladder. If you think you can help or have any other ideas, do please get in touch with me.

I’d now like to mention the group of textile artists based in the East Midlands and known as The Living Threads Group. Their 20th exhibition is to take place just before Easter at Trent College in Derby Road, Long Eaton. For inspiration in fabric and thread, it would make a lovely day out. The dates are 30th March to 8th April and the venue is the Obolensky Building at Trent College, Derby Road, Long Eaton, NG10 4AD. Opening times are 10.00 am to 4.00 pm and admission is £5. There are daily demonstrations, free parking, a Textile Artists’ shop and refreshments. Find out more at

This month we’ve reached another milestone, as we celebrate our 36th birthday. Whilst I can take some of the credit, we’re still going strong because of your fantastic support. Despite two years of lockdowns and a worldwide pandemic, we’ve kept our craft going so please accept my very sincere thanks. It’s now time to turn to Page 30 and immerse yourself in this month’s wonderful selection of joyous colours and patterns brought to us by Alison Dupernex. With Spring on the way, it really is time to knit happy!


Subscription copies sent out Thursday 7th April

On sale Thursday 14th April

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Green for go

Dear Anne

My friend is having trouble knitting her garments and they all appear to be a different size. She does not use the Green Ruler and my question is would you be so kind as to explain this to me and I will pass it on to her. I haven’t been machine knitting for some time as I looked after my dad until he passed, then we moved house and just recently I had a bad fall so everything is on the back burner for now. Many thanks, Janice

Thanks for asking Janice and the Green Ruler is an excellent way of measuring the stitch and row tension of machine knitted swatches. It’s as accurate as most machine knitters require and can be used on all machines. A while ago, Sally Butcher wrote to say:-

Dear Anne

My chosen method of tension swatch measuring is to use the coloured rulers, as I’ve always been a Silver Reed (Knitmaster) fan and these were supplied with the machines. The three colours are used on the different gauge machines; green is for standard, yellow is for mid-gauge machines and blue is for chunky. They have different scales and are designed to measure different quantities of stitches and rows. It’s important to get this right in order to get an accurate swatch measurement.

• Green (standard) measures over 40 stitches and 60 rows.

• Yellow (mid-gauge) measures over 30 stitches and 40 rows.

• Blue (chunky) measures over 20 stitches and 30 rows.

I drew up a little table which I’ve printed off several times and laminated. I keep one with each machine and I’m happy for you to print it. With best wishes, Sally Butcher

Sally is one of our Knitting Buddies and she runs a club in Bodmin, Cornwall. She also has video demonstrations on her Facebook page, showing techniques on the SK280, LK150 and SK155 Silver Reed machines. The link is and it’s called Sally Butcher’s Kalamunda Krafts Machine Knitting.