Tunnel vision

Dear Anne

I have a use for my empty cones that you might find amusing. I use those with wide tops for our gerbils, as the larger openings make them like tunnels. After several weeks, the cones have been reduced to flakes of paper and since we use peat in the cages, we have a good garden mulch. We also have very happy gerbils… having started with two, we now have twelve! Keep going Anne and all the best, Sandra

Location, location

Dear Anne

After getting back into knitting over lockdown, I’ve just upgraded and bought a ‘new to me’ electronic machine. I’ve never used one before, so reading the instruction manual has been an essential part of my learning curve. One instruction tells me to: “Knit another row when the sound ‘pee’ is emitted”, so my husband suggested I should move my machine a bit closer to the loo! Best wishes, Davina in Brighton

Pillow talk

Dear Anne

Old pillowcases are my favourite machine knitting accessory. I keep a grubby one as a ribber cover and a clean one to hold all my knitted garment pieces until I’m ready to put them together. Happy knitting, Sheila

Take note

Dear Anne

As the price of greetings cards seems to be going up and up, why not substitute with something practical that’s not necessarily for a knitting friend. I buy notebooks and often stick colourful things on the cover. A small book with colourful pictures of food is excellent to use for shopping lists and there will be a million times when a notebook will be essential for a machine knitter. Best wishes, Lynda

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.

Test strip

Dear Anne

I am in need of sponge strips for the sponge bars on my Toyota KS901 machine, plus Toyota KR506 ribber. Could it cause problems (size-wise) for my machines if I buy a different well-known or cheaper brand, or could the foam be unsuitable? As I wanted three, the cheaper ones look tempting but may be penny-wise, pound foolish. Would it therefore be best to purchase branded Toyota? I am at a loss what to do, as it is the first purchase for my machines so I would appreciate any advice you can offer. I managed to collect a lot of MKM from long ago and I love reading them, especially the tips and I am very keen to start knitting! Thank you, Marjorie

Thanks for writing Marjorie and Toyota machines are seriously obsolete, so there are no original branded Toyota sponge bars for sale. However, you can buy replacement needle retaining bars which will also fit Toyota or Brother machines from Uppingham Yarns and they’ll do the job for you. Call Uppingham on 01572-823747, write to them at 30 North Street East, Uppingham, Rutland LE15 9QL and you’ll find details of sponge bars at www.wools.co.uk

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.