This month’s top tips

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Get weaving

I was reading through some of my very old To & Fro magazines and spotted an absolute gem of advice from the real ‘old school’. (Happy memories of Joan Lafferty!) It’s about doing a weaving cast-on, which I so wanted to use but I’ve never got it to work for me. I’ve had a go at this tip and yes, it really does work so I’ll pass it on for the newbies. Well, first of all we’re told to lift up the end of yarn at the inner side of the carriage and move the carriage to and fro a bit before putting the yarn across the holding position needles. Sounds obvious, but I’d never done it. It lifts the yarn above the metal sinker plate and saves it catching in the brushes. Doh! Now the yarn is in the right place, you can put in the weaving brushes. I put both brushes in, though they actually say you just need the one on the inside leading edge of the carriage. When you come to close the hem, you just pick up the large loops from the cast on, onto every other needle. Here’s the best bit! Supposing you’ve a special needle set up, such as in tuck lace where some needles are out of work. You can still use the weaving cast on, as long as you bring forward every other working needle to holding position. Try it, it works fine!

What I truly had never heard is that all isn’t lost if you don’t have a cast on comb or any weaving brushes, such as on some earlier machines. Bring every other needle to holding position, knit the row and lay the nylon cord across in the usual way, between the needles and sinker posts. Bring out of work needles to working position and continue to knit. The effect is the same as the weaving cast on. After laying in the cord they say don’t forget to bring forward (a little bit) needles with stitches on, so the cord doesn’t get tangled up with the stitches. Good tip! Being able to do a weaving cast on has given me such a lot of confidence, after thinking I could never do it.


Have you any ideas for getting a really good rib cast on edge? I knit on a Brother and mine always look frilly and, frankly, a big mess. Hoping you can help please.

To get a fine rib edge on your Brother machine, use Tension 0/0 and set the slide lever at II for the cast on. You can actually wind the yarn anti-clockwise round the ribber joining knob to slow down the flow, as you need the cast-on to be as tight as possible. You can also try putting the ribber cams to tuck, just for the zigzag, but none of this works unless you pull down all the slack yarn at the back of the yarn tension arm before you start to knit! After the zigzag row, put in the ribber comb, but no weights, until you’ve done the circular rows, still at the same tension. Now add the weights and lay a nylon cord right across between the needles. Hold the ends below the beds, just for the first actual rib row. If the rib tension is to be (say) 4/4, do the first rib row around 2/2. When the work is off the machine, pull up the stitches on the nylon cord and tug the cord away from the work. This will straighten out the edge beautifully and is much easier than threading a fine knitting needle through the edge afterwards!


One great tip about making life easy for sewing up garments.

Fran McCarthy has made me really think back to my early knitting days and how much of a struggle it all seemed to be. One great tip I read was about making life easy for sewing up garments. If you’re using 1×1 rib, a simple trick for the cast on is to put one extra needle to work at the left on the ribber bed. After the first rib row, transfer it to the main bed so that two stitches are working side by side. The extra stitch gets taken into the seam in mattress stitch, corresponding with the one on the main bed at the other end, so the rib is continuous. For cardigans, put one extra stitch at each end on the back rib, but none on the front ribs. For 2×2 and 2×1 industrial rib, you don’t need to do anything. The normal set up joins perfectly when you mattress stitch the two pieces together. Isn’t that handy?


It’s the time of year for making winter warmers and I make lots of hats and scarves for charity. They’re nothing special, just gathered into a pom-pon for the top of the hats and ends of the scarves, so have you a quick way of gathering up a rib edge?

Thanks for asking Flo and you may also knit hats which are made double length then one edge is pushed inside the other. For the cast on edge, leave an extra-long end of yarn when you cast on. It needs to be about 20 cm longer than the width of the working needles on the machine. First knit the zigzag row. Now lift the end of yarn up between the beds, take it across the zigzag and down the other side of the work. Hold this end down until the first rib row is knitted and then you can release it. When the work is off the machine, just pull up the rib stitches on this thread and fasten off securely. Old hands will recognise this as something we did on a single bed machine when we couldn’t find our nylon cords to cast on!


I prefer to knit sideways bands on my cardigans, as I can’t stand all that sewing up. Is there anything I can do to stop the ends on the fronts pulling up? Pressing doesn’t work and, anyway, we can’t press acrylic unless we want to wreck everything. Don’t take it the wrong way, but did you do something in the dim and distant past I might not know about?

You need what we used to call a ‘flat rib’. One bed, usually the main bed, knits with all needles in work whilst you put into work the needles which will show the rib you want on the ribber. Here’s an example for a 2×2 flat rib. On the ribber, have two needles in work and two out of work all the way along. (Don’t forget the pitch set at H, of course!) You can’t cast on like this, so cast on in full needle rib and transfer the unwanted stitches from ribber to main bed. The alternative is to use a 1×1 rib cast on, transfer all stitches to the main bed (easy if you’ve a transfer carriage!) and then return the needles you need on the ribber to working position. If you just put the needles into work and knit, you’ll get small holes at the base of the rib, which you could get away with by calling it a design feature! Otherwise, you’ll have to fill up those needles with the heel of a stitch from the main bed. Hope this helps.

New for old sponge bar

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Hi Anne

I’ve just replaced the sponge bar on my Singer Model 120. After trial and error, I put a strand of 100% pure thick wool in the bar and pushed it in with a spatula. Then I put white glue on it and laid in another strand of wool. I just pressed with my fingers to make sure it glued on. You might have to repeat pressing with your fingers every two or three minutes for fifteen minutes. Use the same spatula to push both strands about one inch at beginning and end, so the wool doesn’t get caught in the needles. It worked for me! Best, Gisele

Love your lace

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Dear Anne

Here’s a tip about re-programming your punchcard machine if you’ve made a mistake when knitting a lace pattern. It’s always best to undo the whole block repeat of lace just knitted. This may mean putting several stitches that are on one needle back to their original place. Turn the punchcard back to where the last black curved arrow is on the card. It’s at this point you’d have worked, for example, ‘K 2 rows’ or similar. Look at the arrows on the left hand side of the card. By the black arrow is the red arrow, pointing to the right. Don’t lock the card, but carry on ‘lacing’ and you will be on the right row. The only time you do lock the card, when re-programming in lace, would be if the arrow was pointing to the right and the lace carriage was on the left. You’d next work one pass with the lace carriage and then release the card. Bye for now, Judith

Happy families

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Hello Anne

I’ve been a subscriber to MKM for many, many years. I am so pleased to read that you were given a Chairman’s Award from The Guild of Machine Knitters. Congratulations, you certainly deserve it and if there was an award to be given from all your MKM readers, I’m sure you would have had one years ago. I’m sorry to hear that the Machine Knitting LIVE! shows will be coming to an end next year, so I must really try to attend one, perhaps in Nottingham, as it’s such a lot of years since I’ve been able to visit one due to ill health. I do, of course, understand the reasons why and I also admire your dedication in continuing to run MKM as well as organising the shows and events all these years. It plays a large part in keeping all the knitters together as ‘one big happy family’.

I was also very sorry and sad to hear of the loss of Beryl Jarvis. As was previously mentioned, she was a very kind and helpful lady. I’d not actually met her, but had emailed back and forth when I contacted her to buy a copy of her ‘Love Your Brother KH970’ book. Beryl also gave me some time and advice on a problem I’d come across. I am sure she will be sadly missed in the knitting world. Thank you for keeping MKM going Anne. I do look forward to receiving my copy every month and look out for all the different patterns, books and news items. Kind regards, Jean

Bill King Patterns

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Dear Anne, I have been away from machine knitting for five years now, I’m very keen to get back after looking at the fabulous Bill King Designs on Ravelry.
I Have the Gold Star design from the Dec 2011 issue, but would very much like to make the One Piece in the Nov2012 issue. I do realise that these issues are sold out, please would it be possible to reprint them ? I’m sure they would be a huge hit!
Regards and thank you

Time for tea!

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It has been knitted with the help of my knitting group Needles & Chat which is based in Grays. We knitted and displayed it at High House for last year’s yarn bombing day and we’ve been asked to display it again by High House. As the summer develops we’ll be adding new items. It’s free to visit, there’s loads of free parking and it will be on display until the end of September 2016. By the way, I’ve started a knitting blog which is called
Thanks a lot and see you at the Romford Show in September, Susan Burns

Needle position problem

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Any ideas please and thanks for any help you can give. Lorraine Frost

Hi Lorraine

Some machines have a setting for Intarsia which brings all the needles to position ‘D’. Make sure your carriage is set for Plain knitting. There may be a setting below the tension dial or levers at the front or side of the carriage which need moving. It depends which make and model your machine is.

Sue P
2016-06-24 07:47:51

Goodbye Joan

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I have enjoyed reading her articles over the years like, I expect, many others. She often brought a ray of sunshine to an otherwise dull day. Every time my MKM came through the door, it’s always been her page that I have gone to first. Even though over the years you have repeated some of her old articles, they were always so entertaining. I do hope that you will still publish more of her very funny stories. Kind regards, June

Using Brother chunky with ribber and Knit Leader

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When I try to use the long brackets that come with the machine to use with the Knit Leader, they hit the table due to angle of the machine with the ribber attached. I wondered if anyone has solved this problem? Unless the Knit Leader sits properly, the two trippers on the carriage don’t hit. Only one does, so the knitted piece is twice as long as it should be. Any suggestions would be truly helpful. Looking forward to the Bournemouth show, only a few miles from me, which is lovely. Thank you for any help. Kind regards, Jean