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 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

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.