March 2024 (Issue 314) with Bill King

The cover design on our full-colour March 2024 issue is a pretty cardigan in a wide size range. We’ve our usual mix of patterns for standard, mid-gauge and chunky machines including a popular Anne Baker Karabee Design. Bill King transforms a simple diamond into an intricate selection of squares and Susan Guagliumi (https://susan-guagliumi.teachable.com/) along with Alison Dupernex are our constant help and support. Claire Newberry looks at audible warnings in Interactive Knitting and it’s a ‘must-read’ for DesignaKnit users. You’ll find Claire at Patreon.com and her page is Claire Newberry’s Knitting School. Sally-Ann Carroll looks at the current trends for Spring/Summer 2024 – and we probably own most of the key elements! As always, our mail order shop is open and we’ve help and advice in Dear Anne plus news, reviews and the fabulous circular yoke challenge completed by members of Rumney Knitting Class & Club.

Ways & Means

Dear Anne

I’m one of Joan’s old hands and love searching through the magazine for small nuggets of information. Time served knitters can forget that not everyone knows these little tips. They not only help beginners, but also jolt the memory bank of us ‘oldies’. One tested and tried thing I do may help other readers, so here it is. I find casting off behind the sink pegs difficult due to arthritis in my neck and shoulders. So I either do one row at Tension 10, waste off, then crochet the stitches with a 2mm crochet hook or I work as follows. I transfer half of one stitch, usually the left hand side, to the next needle and knit through, leaving the stitches on the needles. This gives a nice stretchy cast off, too. When knitting through, it’s also easy to do that as loose or tight as required. Thanks for a very good magazine each month and keep the ‘golden oldies’ coming for ‘oldies’ like me! Kind wishes, Elaine

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Scrap value

Scrap value

Hi Anne

I’ve just come back to machine knitting after a long break and can you help, please? Years ago a guest speaker visited our club and used cast-on rags. (I’m sure she called them ‘rags’ but I might be wrong.) The club closed down a long time ago, so there’s no-one I can ask. Do you know how they are made? They seemed to make life really easy. Thanks for your help and a great magazine. Yours sincerely, Pat

Thanks for asking Pat and these strips do away, to a great extent, with the need for waste yarn. For beginners, the easy way is to find a bit of (dare we say) ‘rubbish’ yarn in your stash. It’s best to use a smooth yarn in a neutral colour.

Step 1 Cast on about 50 stitches, using the latch tool chain stitch method for a firm cast-on edge.

Step 2 Knit 10 or 12 rows at a fairly loose tension, finishing with one row at the loosest possible tension.

Step 3 Cast off round the gate pegs to make nice little ‘blocks’ at the cast-off edge.

Step 4 If you’ve a ribber cast-on comb and with the wrong side facing, you can push the teeth of the comb through the holes of the cast-on edge then insert the wire.

Step 5 If you don’t have a ribber, keep the wrong side of the strip facing you and start with a couple of needles at each side of centre 0, the centre of the strip and the cast-off edge. Either way and using a transfer tool, pull through a needle at each end then work across, bringing all the needles through the holes.

Step 6 Make sure all needles are in holding position with the machine set to knit them back.

Step 7 Place weights in position, if required.

Step 8 It’s now vitalto knit one row with a nylon cord at a large tension, or you won’t be able to separate the strip from the knitting.

Step 9 Push needles to holding position again and cast on using an e-wrap, latch tool chain or method needed for the garment.

Step 10 Remove the nylon cord when the work is completed and the strip is intact to use over and over again.

Strips (or rags) can be made in different lengths and widths. Short strips are useful for casting on a small number of stitches, as you can hang weights directly on the strip. Some knitters make their strips garment width with a hem, then insert a old Knitmaster welt bar (see Fig. 3 and Fig. 4) into the hem. This adds a little weight plus stability and Brother owners can hook on a cast-on comb. A cast-on strip can be the most useful bit of scrap knitting you’ll ever do, especially if you have an LK-150. Don’t, though, forget the row with the nylon cord or you’ll be unable to separate the strip from the knitting.

Kalamunda Krafts

Slightly more experienced knitters (in less of a hurry!) knit a bias strip. It has its own built-in loops that spread out nicely the more it’s used. Sally Butcher has a step-by-step video demo on her Facebook page, along with videos of techniques on Silver Reed SK280, LK150 and SK155 machines. Visit www.facebook.com/kalamundakrafts She’s also transferred some of the techniques to YouTube, the link is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSDxy6pQHAs4gd5XBztYWmw and it’s called Sally Butcher’s Kalamunda Krafts Machine Knitting.

What fits what?

Dear Anne

I noticed in the magazine that Mini Mart has Silver Reed sponge bars and I wondered if one would fit my Brother 860? Also would the cast on comb wires be the same as those for my Brother 850 ribber? I haven’t been able to use the machine for a while, as I’ve had a replacement shoulder but now I can and, of course, the sponge bar has had it! Thanks for any help and best wishes, Barbara

PS The ballet cardigan now gets worn to football practice!

I case you missed it last year, Barbara told us about a cardigan she’d knitted for the daughter of a friend of one of her daughters. She was three years old, loved dressing up and wearing tutus. She had a pink tutu and a mauve one so Barbara made her a ‘Lafferty cardi’ to go with them, using up some cone ends in the right colours. It seems the cardi has now moved from the dressing up box to the football field! As for many replacement accessories, Nick Traylen at Uppingham Yarns keeps a list of what fits what and he’s a great source of parts to keep old machines going. Write to Uppingham Yarns, 30 North Street East, Uppingham, Rutland LE15 9QL, call 01572-823747 or visit www.wools.co.uk

Kitchen cabinet

Dear Anne

You mentioning ‘golden oldies’ last month brought a smile to my face. Back in the day, didn’t we all show off when we shared something new! I picked up the tip to use one of the plastic boxes they use for packing peaches. All the odds and ends go into it, it sits at the back of the machine and it’s easy to spot something at the bottom through the clear sides. You need, though, to stop it walking off the table as you knit and dumping the contents on the floor. As long as you don’t have an electronic machine, pop a magnet inside the plastic box and place it against the machine. It will stay put until you want to remove it. I think it was mentioned at one of the old To & Fro ‘At Home’ days, when I also learned to keep my peg bag close to the machine. Sprung clothes pegs have a multitude of uses, especially if you’re knitting intarsia or stripes with cut-off ends. The short ends dangling down have a habit of catching in the moving parts under the carriage and causing one almighty jam. Weight the end with a clothes peg and it remains safely out of the way instead of you grinding to a halt halfway across a row! Happy memories, Margaret

Centre point

Centre point

Dear Anne I was thinking about the words ‘golden oldies’ which you mentioned last month. Do you remember the tip for pulling out the nylon cord we add to get rid of wavy ribs? If you knit a circular row and pull it out from the centre, not one of the two ends, it comes out much easier and I’ve never had a problem. Best wishes, Jackie

Snap it up

Snap it up

Dear Anne As we’re now remembering the old tricks in the book, don’t forget that sew-on plastic press studs in most sewing boxes make an ideal substitute if you can’t find the proper snaps for a punchcard. Best wishes, Joan

Kill or cure?

Kill or cure

Hello Anne

Happy New Year to you and thank you for yet another year of a great magazines. I’m in New Zealand and have been a regular purchaser of your magazine for many, many years and it never fails to surprise me with new patterns or advice. I order it through our local bookshop so it’s several months behind when I get it – and more so with the Covid freight. I’ve been looking through back issues and was interested in the Block Buster item on Page 13 of September 2022 on Ironing, Pressing and Steam Pressing. Personally, I’m still nervous with the iron on my knitting, be it wool or a man-made fibre. I felt this article spelled it out well. I’ve ‘killed’ several items over the years with too much ironing and think this would be very helpful to newer knitters. Kind regards, Lorraine

Basic skills

Hi Anne

I’m new to machine knitting and wonder if you could suggest where I could go that might give me answers to all the silly questions I sometimes need to ask. It feels as if everyone except me is an expert, so I often feel embarrassed about not knowing some of the basics. I’d be very grateful for any help and thank you in advance. Best wishes, Mary

Thanks for asking Mary and for those of you who don’t know, Jane Harrisson has a machine knitter’s treasure chest of resources. It includes masses of useful links, free patterns and stitch patterns together with punchcards and electronic diagrams. There’s a huge section on troubleshooting tips for machine knitters and Jane has also included the Punchcard sets and Mylar sheets for all the major brands, to help knitters who have unwittingly bought second-hand machines without them. Needles of Steel is also your first stop for information about Circular Sock Machines. The site is an invaluable resource for all CSM owners and offers free patterns, manuals, techniques, vendors and videos. There really is far too much to list here that’s of special interest for every machine knitter. So, make it one of your jobs to visit Jane’s site at www.needles of steel.org.uk and we know you won’t be disappointed!

Wax works

Dear Anne

I was reading my MKM for a few minutes and as I opened it, the first page that came in view was the one with ‘always wax double knit yarn’ on it. This is something I’ve been doing ever since I started using a machine in 1969. Back then wool winders were as good as those sold today, but they did tell you to wax the yarn. Over the years it’s become a part of my practice and I often buy 3-ply and 4-ply yarns in 100 gram balls. This yarn, whether wool or acrylic, hasn’t been waxed for machine use so I automatically wax everything I buy before using, unless it’s on a cone. For knitting baby clothes and children’s outfits, I find the 100 gram balls come in plenty of lovely colours. In fact, I do have quite a few orders for children’s clothes! I’m just waiting for some building work to be finished inside the house, so I can get on with my knitting. Best wishes, June