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

It’s astonishing

Hi Anne

I have a little tip for any of your readers that use a Knit Leader. It’s not always possible to use the pens that came with the plastic sheets to draw the shapes and it can be quite difficult to remove marks from the pens that are available, without removing the actual grid on the sheets. I’ve found that using an Astonish stain remover bar on a damp cloth does the job well for a lot of marker pens. To be on the safe side, always try it on a small area in the corner but I hope this helps as it can be very frustrating to clean the sheets without damaging them. Best regards, Lyn

Home thoughts

Phoebe is no stranger to our pages and following all the recent letters in the magazine, she’s written to pass on some help.

Dear Anne

I’ve just acquired another knitting machine. It’s a Singer LK-140, 6.5 gauge model and is the same as the Silver Reed LK-150, but with ten less needles. As the machine has no ribber, I’ve been playing around with samples. My little machine came with its own table, an intarsia carriage and charting device though I haven’t tried them yet. To help other readers new to the LK-150, here are some ideas to try.

Getting started Select 50 Ns to WP. Using 1×1 selector tool, push back every alt N to NWP. Now take your cast-on strip and hook it up to Ns in WP. What! You don’t have a cast-on strip? But it’s essential for starting your knitting on single bed work. Okay, let’s go off to the machine and make one.

Cast-on or bias strip With carriage on right, select first 10 Ns on far left of machine to HP. Using 8-ply yarn, e-wrap these 10 Ns. Thread up machine. With machine set to knit back Ns, K 2 rows slowly. Hang claw weight. * Now take first st on left and transfer it to next st (decrease) and at the same time bring N next to st on right to WP (increase) and K 2 rows *. Rep from * to * all along needlebed, moving the claw weight as you go. When you get to the far end of the machine, K 2 rows and cast off. There, that didn’t take too long did it and you’ll never have to cast on in WY again. As I’ve knitted mine in acrylic, it came off the machine biased (hence its name) so I killed it. I used my steam iron and actually ironed it flat. If you have another machine with a ribber, you can make an easier cast-on strip by casting on 20 sts in 1×1 rib and just knit a long strip. The cast-on strip can also be used when shaping a ‘V’ neck garment, where you knit one side of the neck whilst holding the other side. Simply hang the cast-on strip on the left half of the knitting. Push these Ns to HP. Set machine to hold and knit the right half of the neck, take off on WY then knit the left half of the neck. Using the cast-on strip this way means you won’t get a line across the held half of the knitting.

Sample 1 – 1×1 Mock rib With carriage on left, bring Ns to WP. Push back every alt N to NWP then take cast-on strip and hook it up to Ns in WP. K 1 row with ravel cord. As I’m using 8-ply acrylic, I used Tension 1, but this is only a guide. Using MY, K 20 rows. Bring up empty Ns to WP and pick up first row in MY to form a hem. Using Tension 2, K 1 row.

Sample 2 – ‘Garter stitch’ edge This is done after you’ve knitted your garment piece. With right side facing you, pick up sts from lower edge of garment piece. With carriage on right, K 1 row. Using 1×1 needle selector, bring every alt N to HP. Set machine to hold from right to left. K 1 row. Push Ns that were held back to UWP and bring Ns that were knitted to HP. K 1 row. Rep these 2 rows 4 times (10 rows altogether). Cancel hold, K 1 row and cast off.

Sample 3 – 2×1 Mock rib With carriage on left, select Ns 2 in WP and 1 in NWP all across work. Hang cast-on strip on these Ns and K 1 row with ravel cord. K 26 rows with MY at Tension 1. Bring up empty Ns to WP and pick up first row in MY to form a hem. Using Tension 2, K 1 row and carry on knitting.

Sample 4 – Pie crust edge Have wrong side of garment facing you. * Pick up 3 sts from edge of knitting and K 6 rows. Pick up next 3 sts from edge and hang them on the same Ns. K 6 rows *. Rep from * to * all along but after the last pick up, only K 4 rows. Cut yarn. Using a tapestry needle, thread yarn through sts and finish off neatly.

Sample 5 – Picot edge With carriage on left, bring Ns to WP. Push back every alt N to NWP then hang on cast-on strip. K 1 row with ravel cord. Using Tension 1 and MY, K 16 rows. Bring up empty Ns to WP and using Tension 2, K 17 rows. Bring up empty Ns to WP and pick up alt sts of first row in MY to form a hem. Using Tension 2, K 1 row, continue knitting.

Sample 6 – Rolled edge The easiest edge of all, of course, is really not an edge as such. It’s made at the start of each garment piece. With carriage on left, select Ns required. Hang on cast-on strip. K 1 row with ravel cord. Bring Ns to HP. E-wrap Ns from left to right. Set machine to knit Ns back and knit your piece. The edge will roll naturally.

Now Anne, after I posted off the samples to you, I decided to read the instruction book – as you do! I found you can do a finished edge cast on without using e-wrap. It’s like the weaving cast on we work on a standard gauge machine. It’s okay, but not as neat as the e-wrap. The best thing about it is that it’s very quick and easy. I also discovered that if you have a 7-prong tool from a standard gauge machine and set every 3rd prong to working position, you can transfer stocking stitch to 1×1 transferring three alternate stitches at a time. I make a lot of beanies for our local hospital and find this little trick very useful. Maybe there’s a 7-prong tool made for a mid-gauge machine, but I don’t know of it. Happy knitting to one and all, sincerely, Phoebe

Knitters beware!

Dear Anne

One of my students sent me this poem. She’s no idea who wrote it or who gave
it to her, but we thought everyone would enjoy it! Best wishes to all, Lidia

The Tension Square

I had a sudden brainwave, on how to earn a packet.

I sat down with pen and paper and designed a lovely jacket.

I started with a tension square, the first seemed short and fat.

My second one was long and thin so I’d had enough of that.

I decided not to bother with a tension square at all.

I carried on regardless, throwing caution to the wall.

Now, my creation’s finished, but I don’t know what to do.

I’m looking for a customer five stone and eight feet two.

So let this be a warning, have patience and take care.

When you are in creative mood, remember the tension square!

It’s tension time

Hello Anne

I’ve got a Silver Reed 860 mid-gauge knitting machine and the tension dial settings you put on your patterns for mid gauge machines aren’t the same as my 860. I’ve found one pattern for an 860 in December 2003, so is there any chance you could include a pattern now and again for the 860 in the magazine? I’ve not seen one for this machine for such a long time. Thanks also for the magazine and I look forward to it every month. Best wishes, Jill

Thanks for writing Jill and please don’t worry. Your Silver Reed SK860 is a splendid mid-gauge machine and we’ve included hundreds of patterns for mid gauge machines in the magazine. The LK-150 is very basic and your super-duper SK-860 electronic will knit almost anything. If you have the ribber, the joy for you is that you don’t have to knit ribs by hand. LK-150 knitters have no option, as a ribber is not available. Both machines, however, are still mid-gauge models. As you’ve read in Dear Anne, tensions on the LK-150 vary a huge amount and your SK860 has exactly the same potential for variation. I suggest you do what I did. My machine knits from a standard hand knitting tension of 5 stitches and 7 rows to an inch around Tension 3, to the classic chunky tension of 7 stitches and 10 rows to two inches at Tension 10. Once you know the Tension Dial setting on your machine for these two standard hand-knitting tensions, that will always be your starting point for knitting any mid-gauge pattern. Best wishes and happy knitting, Anne