September 2021 update

Dear Readers

This month I’m acutely aware that my letter to you each month is turning into an obituary column. However, I can’t ignore the fact that one of our greatest fibre artists and machine knitters, certainly in my lifetime, has died and I can find almost no record of her passing. My friend Susan Guagliumi gave me the sad news that Susanna Lewis has died. It seems Susanna had surgery for an aneurism that was apparently successful, but heart complications followed and she died on 15th July. Susanna was born on 1st November 1938, lived and worked in New York, but she was an extremely private person so that’s one possible reason why I can find no obituary elsewhere.

I met Susanna at a Metropolitan Show in Bournemouth, back in 1986. Machine knitting was on the crest of a wave and I’d just started to publish and edit MKM. Susanna was a guest speaker and in the UK to promote her new and now legendary book. It was published by Lark Books, together with co-author Julia Weissman. She signed my copy of ‘A Machine Knitters Guide To Creating Fabrics’ and I’ve lasting memories of a softly spoken, but amazingly talented fibre artist. It had taken over five years to develop and write this important book and I don’t know of a knitted fabric that’s not included.

Susanna’s work is displayed in many museums and galleries in America and she was one of that country’s first generation of machine knitters. Already well-known in 1971, she wanted to settle into one technique to create fabric and bought her first knitting machine. She spent four years learning to knit, because she went through the machine manual very methodically. She often said that almost everything she knew and taught was in the owner’s manual. At the end of four years, she could make a domestic knitting machine do anything she wanted.

By 1993, Metropolitan had a new home with Carol and Mark Hocknell and I took over publishing To & Fro, with masses of help and support from Hazel Ratcliffe as Editor. Susanna guarded her copyright fiercely, but most graciously gave To & Fro an exclusive two-part article to publish on Split Mitres, incorporating techniques she’d included in her book. In the world of domestic machine knitting, she was way ahead of her time and the work she created is simply without equal. Susanna and Julia included the following dedication at the start of their book and it’s written for all of us.

“For all knitters and fiberists of the past and present, whose love for their craft has inspired the continual evolution of skills and techniques, and whose use of the craft helps us see beauty and meaning in the continual evolution of life. They provide the heritage and legacy for the knitters and fiberists of the future, so that they too may experience the thrill and joy of discovery, understanding and creation; in turn to promote communication and understanding in oneself, and between people and cultures worldwide.”

“My self-concept is as an artist,” she said, “and I use the knitting machine as a tool in creating art.” May your work live on Susanna, to bring joy and inspiration to future machine knitters all over the world. Thank you for your immense legacy and we’ll always remember you.

NEXT ISSUE

November 2021

Subscription copies sent out Thursday 7th October

On sale Thursday 14th October

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October 2021 new subscriptions

This is October 2021 and our current issue

NEW SUBSCRIPTION The October magazine was mailed to subscribers on 1st September, so if you’d like a monthly subscription to the magazine, no money will be taken with your order and it will start next month with the November 2021 magazine, to be mailed out to subscribers on Thursday 7th October. If you’d like to start with an earlier magazine, please buy it as a back issue.

October 2021 (Issue 285) with Designer Special features from Susan Guagliumi and Bill King

Our full-colour October 2021 issue is now on sale. It has a super-quick top on the cover, with elongated striping in a single cake of yarn, so there are no yarn changes or ends to sew in. We’ve our usual mix of designs and we always tell you how to knit all our patterns on standard gauge machines. This month, Designer Special first shines the spotlight on Susan Guagliumi with Part 1 of her exclusive new Bubbles design and technique on a 4-page pull-out. Bill King then gives us the ultimate stash buster, to potentially use up 100 cone ends with a variation on his very popular Spider’s Web design. We’ve another quick and easy top for Passap machines and the second part of three articles on converting Passap patterns for Japanese machines. Iris Rowe knits an elephant for the Toy Box and we’ve six assorted patterns to knit hats for the homeless. Sally-Ann Carroll guides us towards this season’s hit list of clothes for the cooler months and Bill King thrills us with racked and ruched 3-D fabrics. There’s always help and advice in Dear Anne plus news, reviews and club details for ideas and inspiration.

Virtual Crochet-A-Long

Knitcraft launches an autumn Crochet-A-Long event

This autumn, Knitcraft has collaborated with @zeensandroger to bring us a virtual Crochet-A-Long (CAL). It will help crafters try out new stitches and explore new colour combinations.

The CAL will launch on Friday 17th September and will run for 8 weeks. Each week at 10.00 am Knitcraft will release a new section of the pattern, along with videos from @zeensandroger talking us through each stitch and sharing some crochet tips.

The blanket is great for beginners who want to build on their skills, or more advanced crocheters who love exploring new stitches and colour combinations.

If you’d like to take part, a bundle is available now that includes the yarn needed to make the blanket. If you’d like to get involved in crochet or lots of other crafts, there are masses more projects available online if you visit the Ideas Hub at www.hobbycraft.co.uk

Shetland Wool Week

Shetland Wool Week virtual event tickets are now on sale
Take a Shetland crofter’s tour, join in with live Q&As, brush up on your Fair Isle knitting, learn how to use a makkin belt, take a look at natural dyeing, refine your lace, tips on ‘dressing and blocking’, how to ‘knit your own detective’ and so much more. Expect lots of familiar hand knitting names, such as Janette Budge, Hazel Tindall, Chris Dyer, Ella Gordon, Donna Smith, Deborah Gray, Helen Robertson and plenty of new faces, too. You’ll find full details at https://www.shetlandwoolweek.com

September 2021 (Issue 284) with an Alison Dupernex Designer Special

Our full-colour September 2021 issue has a raglan top on the cover, that’s also the perfect shape to wear under a jacket. We’ve our usual mix of designs and we always tell you how to knit all our patterns on standard gauge machines. This month, Designer Special shines the spotlight on Alison Dupernex and her plated gilet design, using two complimentary yarns from your stash. We include a 4-page feature on plating, showing you how to knit reversible fabric on Brother, Silver Reed and LK-150 machines. We’ve another quick and easy top for Passap machines and the first part of three articles on converting Passap patterns for Japanese machines. Iris Rowe knits a zebra for the Toy Box and we’ve lots of ideas and punchcards for incorporating large patterns into a design. Susan Guagliumi has free downloads for everything you need for machine knitting and, by special request, we’ve the much-requested fingerless glove pattern. Sally-Ann Carroll‘s latest line up, once again, has stripes very much in the limelight and Bill King mixes a few techniques to create amazing racked Jacquard fabrics. There’s always help and advice in Dear Anne plus news, reviews and club details for ideas and inspiration.

August 2021 update

Dear Readers

This month, many of us around the world have had to endure temperatures we never imagined were possible, so you may think the heat has gone to my head when you see a pattern for fingerless gloves in Stash Box. In the UK, at least, the heatwave has subsided but winter in the southern hemisphere starts on 1st June and ends on the 31st August. It’s perhaps why the pattern on Page 37 has been the most requested in a long time and, before too long, we’ll also need it in the UK. The feature on Page 52 has also been a ‘hot’ topic of conversation amongst knitters using Japanese machines, who feel totally confused by our Passap Special articles. I’ve often included the quick table of lock conversions, but it’s time to explore the workings of Passap and Japanese machines more deeply. As you’ll see, it’s the first of three parts and the other two will follow on.

Plating is another mystery topic for many machine knitters and I giggled as I remembered Joan Lafferty arguing the toss about the spelling. Whether your manual calls it, ‘plating’ or ‘plaiting’, it’s all the same thing! We’ve an in-depth look at the technique for Brother and Silver Reed machines including the LK-150, together with the chance to try it out by knitting an easy gilet design from Alison Dupernex.

Many of you will know that I’ve been very close friends with Hilary at Busy Bee for most of the time she ran the business with her mum, Barbara. We’ve seen our children grow up together, but life has dealt Hilary and her family more than its fair share of knocks. Hilary lost her mum in April 2011, then decided to close Busy Bee Basics and retire in July 2017. Now, just a few years later, Hilary’s husband David has sadly died. In the heady days of machine knitting, David kept the home fires burning whilst Hilary and her mum travelled up and down the country from one show to another. He looked after their daughter Laura and saw her blossom into a wife and mother. We included photos of Laura and Liam’s wedding in our January 2019 magazine and they’ve been the happiest of families, especially since welcoming baby James into their lives. Hilary had Laura by her side at the hospital, as David slipped away peacefully. Their few short years of retirement together had been very happy and to lose him so soon has been a tragedy. Hilary, Laura and David’s remaining family and many friends are devastated and Hilary must now face the future on her own. There will be some consolation in sharing fond and loving memories with Laura, Liam and James as he grows up, of a loving husband, wonderful dad and grandad. Rest in peace David and we send our sincere condolences to Hilary, her family and all their friends at this very sad time.

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October 2021

Subscription copies sent out Thursday 2nd September

On sale Thursday 9th September

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July 2021 update

Dear Readers

I’ve spoken to many of you this month and there’s been lots of activity, but not much of it has involved sitting at a machine. It seems that knitting rooms are being turned back into bedrooms along with gardens and conservatories rearranged, to welcome family members not seen for a very long time. Everyone is really looking forward to meeting up again, but we usually give up our knitting rooms at Christmas, not in the summer! Right now, a lot of unused and unwanted tools and equipment needs a new home and most of us are reluctant to simply throw it away.

It’s a while since I mentioned them, so let me remind you about TWAM, short for Tools With A Mission. It’s a Christian charity that collects unwanted tools and equipment. Items are refurbished and sorted into kits that, today, go to five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. They work in close partnership with local grassroots organisations. To get someone started, a knitting machine kit will include a machine, a bag of yarn, patterns, useful items and accessories. Similarly, a sewing machine kit will include either a manual, electric or treadle machine plus cottons, needles, zips, buttons and other haberdashery. There’s a constant need for things we no longer need that others would find incredibly useful. Why send tools not money? Simply because you’ve to keep sending money, but one tool kit can provide work and a sustainable livelihood for life.

TWAM has a national network of volunteer collectors, who will either pick tools up from you or act as a drop off point. There’s also an ongoing need for tools from gardens, garages and workshops plus computers and IT equipment. The list is comprehensive so visit the website to see what’s needed, find your nearest volunteer collector or refurbishment centre. The head office is at 2 Bailey Close, Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 0UD. They’re open Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 4.30 pm but with Covid restrictions in place, you must ring first. Their number is 01473-210220 or email post@twam.uk Instead of a trip to the tip, make TWAM your first port of call and help others to help themselves. Until next time, enjoy the sun when you see it, or be washed away by the rain as I am right now!

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September 2021

Subscription copies sent out Thursday 5th August

On sale Thursday 12th August

Ask your newsagent to reserve a copy now!

August 2021 (Issue 283) with an Alison Dupernex Designer Special

Our full-colour August 2021 issue has a quick and easy summer top on the cover, in a new blend of 4-ply Bamboo and Cotton. We’ve our usual mix of designs and we always tell you how to knit all our patterns on standard gauge machines. This month, Designer Special shines the spotlight on Alison Dupernex and her great stash-buster design uses three shades of 4-ply cone ends. We’ve a quick and easy top for Passap machines, as well as showing you lots of ways to change the neckline on a Passap design. Iris Rowe knits the final animals to fill her Noah’s Ark. Susan Guagliumi has free downloads for everything you need for machine knitting and Nina Miklin’s cashmere yarn offer comes to an end. We take a comprehensive look at setting up and checking the alignment of a ribber and Sally Butcher shows Silver Reed and Knitmaster knitters how to knit Diana Sullivan’s Enchanted Edgings, specific to Brother machines. If any of your knits are looking tame, Sally-Ann Carroll has some great animal prints for you to roar into the autumn and we’re all asking how Bill King has made only selected needles rack across a row. There’s always lots of help and advice in Dear Anne plus news, reviews and club details for lots of ideas and inspiration.

Outworkers needed urgently


Editor Anne writes:-

I’ve been speaking to a knitwear designer who desperately needs some outworkers based in the UK. Until recently she had a wonderful small team of domestic machine knitters, but last year three of them retired after many years of happy knitting and a fourth is unable to knit at present, whilst recovering from a major illness.

She’d very much like to keep her business going, which she loves and adores. She arranges for work to be collected by a courier every couple of weeks or so and uses the same company to deliver yarn.

She has a large order to complete for the end of August and another for September, so there’s lots of urgent knitting to be done.

The shapes are plain and simple stocking stitch, or have a small amount of Fair Isle pattern. A standard gauge machine with patterning facility is a good start.

If you think you’d like to help, please email me with your name and address plus a phone number. I’ll pass on every response and the designer will contact you personally. You can then discuss everything in detail and hopefully, we can all rally round.

As a reminder, my email address is mail@machineknittingmonthly.net and I look forward to hearing from you soon.