So easy

Dear Anne

Here’s my quick and easy hat to go in the shoe boxes. Just knit a strip of ribbing, seam down the long edge, fold it in half width-ways, gather the top edges together and finish with a bobble or a cord wound round in a circle to make a flat disc. Make it nice and long and you’ve a chunk to fold back for a brim. Change colour halfway or knit stripes, finish it off with the cord disc then turn it inside out to make two different coloured hats in one. Best wishes, Joan in Edinburgh

Block and tackle

Dear Anne

With time on my hands the other day, I was looking back at some back issues of MKM and saw this great tip, which I’m definitely going to try. I’m a bit of a stick-in-the-mud and use the same shape on my Knit Leader over and over again. I always block my knitting but all the measuring to get the exact shape is a bit tedious and time consuming. This reader traced the pattern from the Knit Leader sheet onto a piece of silk organza. She used BluTack to anchor the organza firmly and some permanent marker pens for the lines. From dressmaking, I know that silk organza can take a hot iron and lots of steam. It’s also transparent, so it’s easy to see the Knit Leader lines and trace through. The silk organza then gets pinned onto a blocking mat and it’s so easy to pin each piece to the traced shapes. I’m so pleased with the idea that I’ll go off now to knit a sweater and try it out! I’m sure that with different coloured marking pens, you can trace several garment shapes onto the piece of material. Keep safe and best wishes, Liz in Doncaster

Double up

Dear Anne

I so enjoy reading the hints and tips, but haven’t seen this one mentioned for ages. Back in the day, when we were all too scared to put a pair of scissors anywhere near our knitting, one of the cut ‘n’ sew enthusiasts passed on a gem. When you have to work a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine for a cut and sew neckline, use a double sewing machine needle. The job’s done in half the time! Best wishes, Grace in Stockport

One direction

Dear Anne

Have you a magic trick up your sleeve for getting needles back to working position from holding position. I don’t mean upper working, when you can set the carriage but from right out to right back. It’s such a fiddle doing it all one by one and please don’t say use a treble or 7-prong tool. Dropsy is my middle name and I can never get more than one safely back from the transfer tool, so it has to be one at a time. Thanks for any help, Sheila in Walsall

Thanks for writing Sheila and it won’t work every time, but try this if the pattern allows. It’s especially useful when we’ve pushed all needles to holding position to knit one side of the neck and need them all back in work to knit the other side. Reset the pattern card if necessary. Push the needles in hold to upper working position and knit one row across using a spare piece of yarn or the ravel cord. It’s a simple matter to pull out the cord and unpick the stitches. We now have the needles in working position, the carriage is on the correct side for knitting and the pattern is also memorised at the same time.

Chill out

Hello Anne

I hope this email finds you fit and well and thank you for the mention in the March edition of MKM. It’s brilliant of you and thanks also for the article on full needle ribs. I’m as indecisive as ever and know I’ll just have to try to do them. In the meantime, I’ve been asked to knit some mittens for children. It’s many years since I’ve done mittens and I can’t fully remember how the thumb was done. All the patterns now seem to be for hand knitting so is there any way you could help me again, please? Keep up the good work and many, many thanks, Marilyn

We surprised ourselves, Marilyn at just how long ago we may have published a straightforward pattern for children’s mittens, so here’s a stash box knit. Knit them on any standard gauge machine with a ribber or work ribs in mock rib. You’ll need an oddment of 3-ply wool or fine 4-ply plus safety pins and stitch holders. The tension is fairly tight, to keep the child’s hands nice and warm.

Measurements Length 16 [17.5, 19] cm, 6½ [7, 7½] in.

Tension 30 stitches and 44 rows to 10 cm, 4 in measured over stocking stitch with tension dial around 5.

RIGHT MITTEN With carriage at right and using MY, cast on 36 [40, 44] sts at centre of machine in 1×1 rib. K 5 tubular rows. Carriage is at right. Set machine for 1×1 rib knitting. Set RC at 000. Using MT-3/MT-3, K 24 rows. Transfer sts for st st. Set RC at 000. Using MT, K 2 rows. Shape sides by inc 1 st (2 sts in) at each end on next and every foll 4th row until there are 44 [48, 52] sts. K 3 rows. K 1 row extra for Left Mitten *.

** Thumb opening Using a length of WY, K 7 [8, 9] sts at extreme left as for a buttonhole. K 20 [24, 28] rows. Shape top Push 22 [24, 26] Ns at left to HP. Cont on rem sts. When shaping in HP, always take yarn round first inside N in HP to prevent a hole forming and push 1 N at opposite end to carriage to HP on next 10 [12, 14] rows. Break off yarn. Push Ns to HP. With carriage at left, push 22 [24, 26] Ns at left from HP to UWP. Push 1 N at opposite end to carriage to HP on next 10 [12, 14] rows. Break off yarn. Push all Ns from HP to UWP. K 1 row. Slip sts onto 2 stitch holders and graft. THUMB Place 7 [8, 9] st loops from thumb opening on 2 safety pins. Push 15 [17, 19] Ns to WP. With P side facing, replace sts from safety pins on to 7 [8, 9] Ns at each edge and pick up 1 st at centre. Using MY, K 18 [20, 22] rows. Break off yarn, leaving long end. Thread end through sts, release from machine, draw up sts and secure **.

LEFT MITTEN Work as for Right Mitten to * noting alteration in number of rows worked, then from ** to ** reversing shaping by reading right for left. Join side and thumb seams. Press.

Size right

Size right

Hi Anne

I wonder if you can help me, I received my April copy today thank you, which I ordered for the fingerless glove pattern but I am very disappointed that there is no size guide for the pattern. There are four sizes listed, but nothing to say which size refers to what. Is the first size for a child, then teenage, ladies and then for a man maybe? Or is there a rough hand width and length you could suggest please. Thanks, Diana

Thanks for asking Diana and all you need to do is divide the 55 [60, 64, 70] stitches after the rib by 7, the average 4-ply tension to 1 inch or 2.5 cm. Without worrying too much about making up stitches and so on, this gives 7¾ [8½, 9¼, 10] inches or 19.5 [21.5, 23.5, 25.5] cm. The sizes therefore span roughly the hand size from a small woman to a large man.

Where did it go?

Dear Anne

Could you please suggest something (sensible please!) I could try to get back on my machine again? You’ve not much scope, as it’s an old Knitmaster Zippy Plus with no attachments or ribber. Surely I can’t be the only knitter who reads the magazine every month, but never quite seems to get out of the starting blocks? Yours in hope, Charlotte

Many years ago Charlotte, punch lace was the high spot of a Knitmaster owner’s life. Standing head and shoulders above tuck, slip and Fair Isle, it was hailed as easy to knit as stocking stitch. We used a nylon thread together with the main yarn and the ‘lace’ was, in fact, a stitch knitted in transparent thread which couldn’t be seen at a distance. Disillusionment soon set in, as we all discovered that the nylon thread was a beast. It slipped out of the feeder, the knitting fell to the ground; it was harsh to handle and it also melted if the iron was too hot when we pressed the fabric! If you gave up on punch lace at that point, perhaps it’s time to revive the stitch if you’ve one of these older machines.

Head for your stash and look for some nice soft cotton, to replace the nylon thread. It’s easier to knit and the fabric is softer and more attractive. A similar combination to Hobby and Silky always works. Try 2/30s with three ends in the main feeder and one end in the other. The holes are not so pronounced and the pattern is much more subtle. When the colours match beautifully and the yarn is light, the texture is lovely without producing a heavy fabric. Try the existing cards in your basic set, as many of them can be adapted to knit punch lace. Remember, too, that a touch of Lurex and a dark colour will transform a summer top into gorgeous evening wear!   Anne

Magic tape

Dear Anne

I’ve just needed to never ever forget a tip I saw in the magazine ages ago from dear old Joan. I was shaping the neck in a patterned sweater, so I needed to ‘park’ the left-hand stitches out of work on a nylon cord, instead of pushing the needles to hold. There I was, needles at the right knitting one side of the neck, one lot parked in the middle for the front neck and the left hand stitches well out of the way. Concentrating so hard on keeping the Fair Isle going, I didn’t spot the needles in ‘A’ position had started creeping forward. The next thing was a disaster area of yarn and nylon cord all over the place, dropped stitches and a jammed carriage. I managed to free everything up and the easiest thing was to pull it all back to the armhole shaping and start again. What had I forgotten? If you knit needles down to ‘A’ position on a cord, a strip of Sellotape on the needlebed will stop the needle butts shifting forward by accident. Don’t forget it’s there before trying to pull the needles back to working position, or you’ll get into another pickle! I should have taken Carl Boyd’s advice that it’s often easier to knit two backs and do a cut and sew neck! Have a smile, I can’t be the only machine knitter who has done it. Best wishes, Dawn

Four by four

Dear Anne

I wonder if this might help other knitters with a garter carriage. I had no idea how to make a 4-stitch buttonhole in a sideways knitted band until my knitting club came to the rescue and this is what to do. Using a spare piece of yarn, knit and cast off four stitches for the buttonhole, putting the final stitch on the fifth needle. Now work an e-wrap cast-on back along the four empty needles. Set the garter carriage to knit the final rows. Someone mentioned putting a weight on the e-wrap cast-on, but I found my KG-95 didn’t need that. This may be of help to others who, like me, were puzzled how to make buttonholes using the garter carriage. Yours sincerely, Christine

Tool box

Dear Anne

I found Phoebe’s letter a huge help, so thank you Phoebe for sharing all the information with us. For anything to do with mid-gauge machines and the LK-150, my first port of call is always Susan Guagliumi. She first inspired me at Dream Week and, after all, she’s been using the machine for years! She has 4 and 5-prong tools and it’s best to buy them in pairs for crossing big cables. She has a 10-prong standard gauge tool and an 8-prong chunky tool for making wide raglan decreases and her every-other-needle transfer tools are good for lace designs. They have lovely hand-made solid wood handles. By the way, she also has double latch tools for reforming 2×2 ribs and every-other-needle latch tools for reforming 1×1 ribs. Susan has free videos at www.guagliumi.com where you can see everything working. I hope you can pass this on, as I’m always grateful for things you mention in the magazine. Yours sincerely, (another!) Susan