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

Nottingham Show 2020 is cancelled

With growing concern over the current Coronavirus (COVID-19), heeding the health advice and using common sense, we feel the most sensible decision is to cancel this year’s show on Sunday 5th April. We’re sorry to disappoint exhibitors and visitors, but feel this is a prudent decision in these uncertain times.

Best fit

Dear Anne

I’m expecting my first baby in September. Would it be possible to request a cardigan or jumper pattern in the magazine for newborns? I found a pattern in March 2019, just after I wrote the email to you, and made this using it. I’ve got no specific pattern requests, but part of my trouble is not knowing how the inch sizing relates to standard ages, so would you include some guidance please? Very many thanks, Ayesha

Thanks for asking Ayesha and we still have lots of Anne Baker’s baby designs in the pipeline for the coming months. Along with many others, you may not have realised that we often include these details in our baby patterns. For example, look at Candy Kisses on Page 36 in the June 2019 issue. Under the Measurements section we say, ‘To fit age 6-12 months [1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7] years. To fit chest 46 [51, 56, 61, 66] cm, 18 [20, 22, 24, 26] in. Actual size 50 [55, 60.5, 66, 71.5] cm, 19¾ [21¾, 24, 26, 28¼] in. You’ll not be far out if you keep in mind that the average chest size of a 6 to 12 month old baby will be around 46 cm, 18 inches and the actual measurement of 50 cm, 19¾ inches allows this design to be worn over other clothing. Typical baby sizing is to fit premature [new born, 0-3, 3-6, 6-12, 12-18] months. To fit chest 31 [36, 41, 46, 51, 56] cm, 12 [14, 16, 18, 20, 22] in. Actual size 35 [40.5, 46, 51.5, 59, 64.5] cm, 13¾ [16, 18¼, 20¼, 23¼, 25½] in.

The other thing to do, of course, is visit one of the baby chain shops with a tape measure in hand. They almost always size their garments by age and you’ll get a fairly good idea of what’s likely to fit. The only thing to remember is that tiny ones grow fast, so it can sometimes be more useful to knit a slightly larger size for a baby to grow into, rather than be a snug fit at birth. We all wish you the safe and happy delivery of your baby and do, please, keep in touch.

Side step

Dear Anne

I have a query regarding a pattern in a backdated copy of MKM and hope you may be able to help. At the Nottingham show I bought a few back copies of MKM, one of which is October 2016. On Page 24, there’s a pattern for a top and cardigan using King Cole Opium. I want to knit the cardigan and have bought the yarn but according to the pattern the ribs need to be hand knitted. However, I’m struggling with arthritis in my hands and find hand knitting both difficult and painful. I’m not over experienced in machine knitting, being a returner after 30-odd years and would like some advice on whether or not I could knit the ribs on the machine and, if so, what tension would be preferable. If this isn’t advisable then I shall have to persevere with the hand knitting. I look forward to my monthly magazine and have just completed two chunky jackets for my granddaughters from a back copy, substituting the hand knitted ribs for some I machine knitted. Thanks for any help, Gill

I’m sorry it’s such a painful struggle to use your hands Gill and, quite honestly, ‘ignore’ the instructions and ‘do your own thing’. If you can still get the ribber carriage across a chunky machine, and it can be hard work at the best of times, it’s easy enough to knit ribs. I’m sure crochet is out of the question, so another suggestion is to make a simple hem. If you use the purl side as the right side, which I think has a much nicer texture, the plain knit stitches of a hem will look like rib anyway.

It really doesn’t matter how you adapt the instructions to suit your circumstances and, by making the changes, you’ll also create your own unique garment. When it comes to tension, it’s anyone’s guess what your machine will need. Just as you go down two needle sizes for hand-knitted ribs, we usually go down three full tensions for ribs on the machine. The zigzag and circular rows need to be as tight as possible, so you’ll have to try out a small sample to see what’s best. There’s no point in breaking the yarn or struggling to stick to figures on a page, just give it all a try and you’ll quickly have the answers you need. The most important thing is to enjoy what you do, not make it a painful chore.

Cosy up

Dear Anne

My July magazine arrived today and I’m really pleased to see the ‘Home Comforts’ feature, as not everyone fancies tackling a garment every time they knit. Can we have a tea cosy pattern, please? It might be ‘old hat’ to some, but not to me! Also the hooded cardigan and the other patterns are lovely. I had some issues with DesignaKnit recently and wondered if Claire would consider a feature on ‘Knits that Fit’ covering shaping with DesignaKnit. I knitted a tuck stitch sleeveless summer top in size 38, however when I tried it on I found there was masses of room at the armholes and it gaped at the side of the bust. Quite frankly it looked awful, so I had to go to work on my linker. (I hate sewing, the linker is a godsend.) I improvised with some bust darts and had to take out four inches each side around the armhole for the darts then cut off the excess fabric. I’m sure it would be much easier to integrate shaping into the pattern rather than ‘cut and sew’ darts! The top is now wearable and I’m pleased with it. Kind regards, Jane

Tea cosies are back in fashion, Jane, so here’s one from the late Joan Lafferty.

INTRO Tea cosies are back in fashion and this one is guaranteed to be a best seller on any bazaar stall or fund raising event

QUOTE “To display it effectively on your stall, make a teapot-shaped cardboard cut out and hang a tea bag on the ties.


Use any pattern of your choice including an all-over Fair Isle or single motif, noting cosy is knitted from the top down.


This pattern requires a machine capable of knitting Fair Isle.


Oddments of 4-ply yarn in colours required. 2 strips of Velcro, each one approximately 15 cm, 6 in long.


No tension swatch is required and choose tension to suit yarn used. Use tension dial approximately 7 for stocking stitch and 8 for Fair Isle.


Make 2 pieces the same Cast on over 76 Ns in 1×1 mock rib (see Page 62) and K 40 rows. Make a hem by placing loops of first row worked in MY onto alt Ns. With all Ns in WP, K across then set RC at 000. Cont in pattern, noting pattern should finish on or before RC shows 64. Cont in st st until RC shows 68. Set RC at 000. K 68 rows in st st for lining. Catch up along edge of closed rib and K across at Tension 10. Cast off.


Close edges and sew strips of Velcro along the edges. Join ribs. Knit a circular cord over 5 Ns in contrast yarn and thread through rib. Gather to form top.

Drifting along

Dear Anne

I’ve been doing a tension sample for the Drifting Along pattern in your May issue using the recommended King Cole Drifter DK yarn on my Silver Reed LK150. The recommended tension dial setting for that particular machine is listed at 6, but after trying this I have found that 3• gives the correct tension for the pattern. Is this just a mistake in the pattern instructions? I find your magazine very helpful, having come back to machine knitting after a very long break. Many thanks, Anne. I’m looking forward to the next issue of MKM as I love finding all your useful tips and recommendations. Best wishes, Lennox

I’m so pleased you’ve written, Lennox, as this will re-assure all readers that every machine is different. I’m always reluctant to give any approximate tension dial settings in the magazine, because they can vary so much. Yours will be a gem, as you’ve lots of availability to open up your tension dial beyond 3• for DK. I once had a Brother standard gauge machine which needed 8•• to knit 4-ply, whilst my Knitmaster had to be down at 5•. For years I wrongly assumed that Brother machines knitted tighter than Knitmaster! It’s a joy to hear that you’ve matched the tension and I hope you enjoy knitting the design. Best wishes, Anne

The Humpty People

The Humpty People

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

But it wasn’t the usual sorrowful scene

As Humpty was made on a knitting machine!

Hi Anne

I remember making several ‘Humpty People’ on my machine, probably in the 1990s. I’ve got rid of all my books (just had too many!) so do you know where I might look for them? They were made from small amounts of yarn and I think a competition was held to let machine knitters’ imagination run riot. They were about four inches or so tall and my friend still has a couple that I made for her grandchildren. Thanks for any help, Diane

The original Humpty Dumpty design was first published in the Oct-Nov 1993 issue of To & Fro magazine. Audrey Harrison was the designer and we held a Mini Competition inviting readers to knit their own adaptation with either the ‘friendliest face’, the ‘naughtiest look’ or an ‘upper crust’ humpty. They’re such fun, make great stocking fillers or charity knits and we hope you enjoy them as much this time around. Make lots… they get lonely!

The Humpty People

MATERIALS Any 4-ply yarn in Red or Main Colour (MC) and White (A). Oddments in Black (B). Polyester stuffing. Crochet hook.

MEASUREMENTS Height around 10 cm, 4 in.

TENSION Use tension dial setting 7 as main tension (MT) throughout, unless otherwise stated.

Girl Humpty


Push 41 Ns to WP. With carriage at right and using MT and MC, make a woven or automatic closed-edge cast-on. Carriage is at left. Set RC at 000. K 20 rows for body. Using A, K 10 rows for face *.

HAT Using MC, K 1 row. Using MT+1, K 2 rows. Using MT+3, K 1 row. Using MT+1, K 2 rows. Using MT, K 1 row. Make a hem by placing loops from first row worked in MC onto corresponding Ns for brim. K 1 row. Using A, K 2 rows. Using MC, K 7 rows. Transfer every alt st onto adjacent N and push empty Ns back to NWP. K 2 rows. Break off yarn, thread end through sts and release from machine. Draw up sts at top of hat, secure and join back seam.

ARMS (2) Push 12 Ns to WP. Using MC, cast on by hand. Set RC at 000. Using MT, K 10 rows. Break off yarn, thread end through sts and release from machine. Draw up sts and secure, then roll up and join seam.

LEGS (2) Push 14 Ns to WP. Using MC, cast on by hand. Set RC at 000. Using MT, K 14 rows. Break off yarn, thread end through sts and release from machine. Draw up sts and secure, then roll up and join seam.

MAKING UP Stuff body. Pull up sts at bottom and secure. Sew arms to top of body. Sew legs just below arms. Using B, embroider eyes and nose as shown. Using MC, embroider mouth as shown *. Cut two 25 cm, 10 inch lengths of B for hair. Fold each in half and using a crochet hook, pull one loop through each side of head just below hat. Work chains along length.

Boy Humpty


Work as for Body, Head & Hat of Girl to *.

CAP Using MC, K 1 row. Set carriage to hold. Push 12 Ns at opposite end to carriage to HP on next 2 rows. Push 3 Ns at opposite end to carriage to HP on next 4 rows. Push 3 inside Ns at opposite end to carriage from HP to UWP on next 4 rows. Push 12 Ns at opposite end to carriage from HP to UWP on next row. Push rem 12 Ns at opposite end to carriage from HP to UWP. Make a hem over centre 17 Ns by placing loops from first row worked in MC onto corresponding Ns for peak. K 10 rows. Transfer every alt st onto adjacent N and push empty Ns back to NWP. K 2 rows. Break off yarn, thread end through sts, release from machine. Draw up sts at top of cap, secure and join back seam.


Work Arms and Legs as for Girl and Making Up to *.